Charlottesville, Virginia, police are set to hold a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. EST to discuss their findings in an investigation of an alleged rape at University of Virginia, which was originally reported in Rolling Stone and later amended to include a note of apology over discrepancies within the story itself. The Charlottesville Police Department announced the press conference on its website and said they would not be answering any questions beforehand. The statement on the website read:
The purpose of this press conference will be to provide the media and public with the results of the investigation into an alleged sexual assault at the University of Virginia that was reported in Rolling Stone magazine in the fall of 2014.
Published in November 2014 and written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who, it appears, has not written for the magazine since the story was published, "A Rape On Campus" tells of a student named Jackie, who was allegedly gang raped at a Phi Kappa Psi party as a freshman. The article chronicles not just her struggles following the traumatic event, but the campus' alleged indifference to cases of sexual violence as a whole. The story prompted the temporary suspension of UVA fraternity activities and outraged not just the campus but the entire nation.
It was not until a month later that Rolling Stone was forced to issue an apology and solicit the help of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in the face of mounting claims that the piece had been poorly reported. Columbia is investigating and will release their findings via Rolling Stone. The Washington Post's T. Rees Shapiro was one of the first in the media to cast doubts about the story's credibility. Said Shapiro regarding Jackie's changing statements made to friends:
The friends said that details of the attack have changed over time and that they have not been able to verify key points in recent days. For example, an alleged attacker that Jackie identified to them for the first time this week — a junior in 2012 who worked with her as a university lifeguard — was actually the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
Fraternity activities were reinstated in January 2015, and rules for frat parties coming out of the alleged offending fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, were amended to include a ban on kegs and a required minimum amount of sober frat members in attendance. Rolling Stone has been criticized not only for their inability to reach out to the alleged perpetrator but for their alleged victim-blaming in their apology, which was revised to include the statement "These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie."
The Charlottesville police investigation may or may not finally conclude this story, but the additional follow-up piece from the Rolling Stone that has information from Charlottesville police as well as Columbia's independent investigation may better shed light on what exactly happened.
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