Disgraced Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely mischaracterized another vignette contained in an article about a brutal gang-rape of a student named Jackie at the University of Virginia, one of Erdely’s sources tells The Daily Caller.
“[Jackie’s reported] harassment was very different from mine,” Emily Renda, a UVA alum who now works on sexual assault-related issues for the school, told TheDC in an interview.
Jackie is the UVA student who claims she was gang-raped by seven members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012.
Besides the gruesome retelling of the rape, Erdely’s 9,000-word article portrayed Jackie’s friends as uncaring and the school as unwilling to investigate the brutal attack.
That indifference, plus two incidents in which both Renda and Jackie were harassed and attacked outside of campus bars, were used by Erdely as evidence that the UVA campus is a hotbed of rape and rape apologia.
But payback for being so public on a campus accustomed to silence was swift. This past spring, in separate incidents, both Emily Renda and Jackie were harassed outside bars on the Corner by men who recognized them from presentations and called them “cunt” and “feminazi bitch.” One flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.
But reached by TheDC, Renda says that Erdely incorrectly portrayed the incidents.
“She made it sound like they were related, but they were separate,” Renda said in a phone interview.
Renda, who brought Jackie’s story to Erdely’s attention, says that whereas she was “shoved around” by a couple of guys who she says were frustrated by an op-ed she wrote about her own sexual assault, Jackie reported her bar attack before she began speaking out openly on campus about her alleged gang-rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house.
Renda said that Jackie faced “retaliatory harassment” for her claims that she was gang-raped, not because she was giving sexual assault awareness presentations on campus.
The bottle attack on Jackie has never been independently confirmed and Renda declined to speculate if it was accurate.
Jackie’s story has changed in several ways — both before and after the Rolling Stone article was published.
Renda has previously said that Jackie initially told her that she was gang-raped by five men, not seven. The story told to Renda was itself a drastic departure from what Jackie told three of her friends on the night of the alleged incident when she said that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men.
Jackie also did not mention that night that her alleged rapists were fraternity members. That claim only came out later. Jackie told The Washington Post that she was only made aware that Phi Kappa Psi members were her attackers after a friend pointed out the fraternity house to her one day, telling her that was where she was attacked.
As it has become more and more apparent that Jackie fabricated most, if not all, of her story, it has also come to light that Erdely relied solely on the accuser for other accusations contained in the article.
For example, The Washington Post’s Eric Wemple reported Monday that Jackie was the sole source for the claim that two other students said they were gang-raped at the same fraternity house. In her article, Erdely reported that neither woman was willing to speak to her about the attacks.
But it has been established that Erdely agreed to some of Jackie’s stipulations, such as her wish to not contact the men she claimed raped her.
Asked whether she believes Jackie’s story that she was gang-raped by the fraternity members, Renda stuck to a response she’s given in other interviews.
“I’ll leave the fact-finding and truth-finding to someone else,” Renda said, arguing that her job as an advocate is to provide support to anyone who claims to be victims of sexual assault.
Renda also confirmed that Erdely has tried contacting her. The journalist is reportedly “re-reporting” the article, but Renda has not interest in talking.
“She tried to be [in contact], but I’m not particularly willing to speak to her anymore,” Renda said.