Rolling Stone magazine says it has uncovered discrepancies in a controversial story it ran about an alleged gang rape of a woman named "Jackie" at a fraternity at the University of Virginia and has apologized for the article.
In its Nov. 19 issue the magazine published the story of "Jackie" - a pseudonym of an unidentified UVA student -- who claimed to have been gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party in the fall of 2012.
The story "A Rape on Campus," complete with graphic details of the rape and suggestions of sexual assaults at the school often going unreported, proved deeply embarrassing to university officials and local police, who initiated an investigation while suspending all Greek activities on campus.
After the story appeared, media critics started to question the reporting methods of the story's reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely, pointing out that while she spent several months talking to Jackie, Jackie's friends and to university officials, she made no attempt to contact the man Jackie claimed led the attack or any of the other men she said took part.
Rolling Stone said that because of concern for the sensitive nature of the story, they were honoring a request by Jackie not to do so out of feat there would be retaliation against her.
However, Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana says in a note to its readers posted on the magazine's website, "In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced."
"We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account," the post said. "We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story."
The Phi Kappa Psi also issued a statement about the alleged events.
"We have no knowledge of these alleged acts being committed at our house or by our members," the UVA chapter said in its statement. "Our initial doubts as to the accuracy of the article have only been strengthened as alumni and undergraduate members have delved deeper."
Jackie had claimed the gang rape at the fraternity house party took place four weeks into the school year, but the chapter said it had no social events or functions in the month of September 2012.
"Our Chapter's pledging and initiation periods, as required by the University and Inter-Fraternity Council, take place solely in the spring semester and not in the fall semester," the fraternity's statement said. "Moreover, no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process. This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim."
The university also released a statement concerning the latest developments.
"Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses," university President Teresa Sullivan said in the statement. "Today's news must not alter this focus."