When Ryan, a University of Virginia student — described in the widely-discredited Rolling Stone article on campus rape as “Randall” — told Jackie he was not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with her in September 2012, he says “it did not go over very well.”
“There was a lot of crying involved,” Ryan told The Daily Caller in an interview on Friday of the conversation with Jackie after she expressed interest in dating him during the fall semester of their freshman year.
Ryan has become a central figure in Jackie’s claim — published in Rolling Stone last month — that she was brutally gang-rape by seven members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012.
The story, reported by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, sent shock-waves through the UVA campus and sparked a national dialogue about campus sexual assault, though it has now fallen apart nearly completely.
Ryan, along with “Andy” — whose real name is Alex Stock — and “Cindy” — whose real name is Kathryn Hendley — came to Jackie’s aid on the night the attack allegedly occurred.
But all three have come forward now discrediting both Jackie’s story and Erdely’s reporting.
Jackie’s crush on Ryan became a point of interest after it came to light in a Wednesday report from The Washington Post, raising speculation that Jackie may have perpetuated a scheme to gain his attention.
Asked whether that could have motivated Jackie to perpetuate a false story, Ryan told TheDC “It’s a definite possibility.”
“I’m not sure where I stand [on that],” he added.
Jackie’s story, as reported by Erdely, caused an immediate and strong response. UVA president Teresa Sullivan shut down all Greek-life activity, and the Phi Kappa Psi house was vandalized during the backlash.
Despite the school’s knee-jerk response to the article, Ryan said that he first came into contact with UVA administrators only after he reached out to them earlier this month, nearly two weeks after the article first appeared.
He said that when he approached UVA’s dean of students about the incident, he says he was directed to Charlottesville police. He was interviewed by investigators once for about an hour, he said.
Because of Jackie’s romantic interest in him, Ryan, who does not want to share his last name because he doesn’t want to harm future job prospects, has become perhaps the key figure among the three friends who came to Jackie’s aid on the night of the alleged rape.
He is the person Jackie called after the incident allegedly occurred.
Ryan recounted the beginning weeks of that fall semester, saying that he, Jackie, Stock and Hendley struck up a fast friendship after meeting during orientation before the semester began.
“A lot of people said it looked like we had been friends a lot longer,” Ryan said of the four-person crew.
She was also quite open about her crush on him, Ryan said. “She was quite forward about it,” he claims.
After Ryan told Jackie he was only interested in being friends, Jackie began talking about about a third-year student she said had a crush on her. (RELATED: UVA Gang Rape Story Falls To Pieces, Rolling Stone Admits It Was Fooled)
Jackie gave the three friends the student’s number. They began exchanging text messages with the man and were sent a picture of him. The man discussed how attractive he thought Jackie was. But then the man began sending messages to the three friends lamenting the fact that Jackie had lost interest and instead had a crush on a first-year student from her chemistry class. (RELATED: Students Come Forward To Poke More Holes In Virginia Co-Ed’s Gang Rape Story)
Ryan told TheDC that the trio exchanged messages with the mystery man “out of curiosity” and because Jackie seemed to be hesitant about him. They wanted to check him out.
Despite claiming to not be interested, Jackie and the man were set to go on a date on the night that the alleged rape occurred.
But it now appears that that man never existed.
When the friends searched university records for the student, they found no evidence that he went to UVA.
And the man in the picture turned out to be a high school classmate of Jackie’s. When reached by The Post he said that he barely knew her back then and that he had not been to Charlottesville in six years.
Ryan, who said he believes that he was the first-year chemistry student Jackie mentioned in the text messages, says that he never called the phone number of the man but told TheDC that the matter is being investigated, though he did not specify by whom.
The mystery man was a glaring embellishment from the story Jackie told Erdely.
In that version, Jackie claimed that she had gone on a date with a third-year named “Drew” who she knew from her job as a lifeguard at the school’s swimming pool.
“Drew,” supposedly a member of Phi Kappa Psi, took Jackie back to his fraternity house, she claimed. There, he took her up stairs where seven other men were laying in wait. Painted in the article as a part of an initiation ritual, Jackie said that the men took turns raping her while “Drew” and another man watched and provided instruction.
One of the men raped Jackie using a bottle, she said.
Jackie claimed that after the rape, she left the party, bloodied and beaten, and called the three friends.
According to Jackie, the trio came to her aid but talked her out of seeking help or from going to the hospital. They were more concerned with Jackie’s reputation and their own social status at the school.
In Erdely’s telling, “Randall” — Ryan — refused to comment on the events that unfolded that night, citing allegiance to his own fraternity.
But when they spoke to The Post and to ABC News, the trio said that on the night in question Jackie never said she was gang-raped at a fraternity party. She instead said that she had been forced to give oral sex to five men while another one looked on.
The three friends also denied that they tried to dissuade Jackie from seeking help. And Ryan says that he has never been in a fraternity.
Jackie’s story changed at another point as well. Emily Renda, a sexual assault activist who met Jackie last year, said that Jackie initially told her that she had been gang-raped by five men. Months later, that number had grown by two.
After questions began being raised over the veracity of the Rolling Stone piece, Jackie reportedly gave the name of another man she said was “Drew.”
That man also said that he had never been on a date with Jackie and that he barely knew her.
Ryan also disputes Erdely’s claim that she reached out to him for comment. Since Erdely has gone underground as her article is being torn to shreds, she has not said how she tried to contact Ryan or any of the other students mentioned in the article.
It could be that someone posing as Ryan responded to Erdely’s request for comment and mentioned the allegiance to his fraternity. Or it could be that Erdely never reached out.
The latter would not be surprising since Erdely also failed to contact any of the men Jackie said raped her. The reporter was cagey when asked the question in interviews after the piece was published, but later said that she did not contact the men at the request of Jackie, who said she was afraid of the men.
Ryan told TheDC that he last saw Jackie a year-and-a-half ago at a fast-food restaurant where they made small talk.
He maintains that focus of all of this should be put on raising awareness of sexual assault at colleges. “I would like the discussion to move more towards the issue of sexual assault in general,” said Ryan.
He also says, as many others have argued, that “more fact-checking should have been involved” on Rolling Stone’s end. The magazine has mostly avoided addressing the numerous problems with the article.
While Ryan thinks that the university has moved in the right direction of addressing sexual assault on campus, he says that he thinks Sullivan’s decision to shut down Greek life at the school “was a knee-jerk reaction.”
“It feels like it was appeasement to the media,” he said.
Numerous calls to the home of Jackie’s parents, where she is reported to be staying, were not answered. Erdely has also not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Alex Griswold contributed to this report.