After the police announced that they're dropping the University of Virginia rape investigation Monday, the UVA Phi Kappa Psi fraternity released a statement denouncing the Rolling Stone article that initiated the inquiry. The fraternity got one thing wrong though — its statement says the Charlottesville Police Department "formally cleared" the fraternity of all sexual assault allegations, but the police only suspended the case. Because it wasn't actually closed, the rape investigation could be revisited in the future if further evidence arises. They aren't totally in the clear yet.
The police clarified that though there's a lack of evidence, it "doesn’t mean something terrible didn’t happen." Phi Kappa Psi's strongly worded statement might be a little too confident for an organization that could still potentially be charged with sexual assault crimes later on. Chief Timothy Longo at the press conference Monday said that the case will be reopened if the survivor or someone else comes forward with new information.
Phi Kappa Psi stressed how much damage was caused to the fraternity and its members and also highlighted its commitment to sexual assault prevention, citing its zero tolerance policy and the “It’s On Us” pledge required of new members. The frat was no doubt relieved by the police's decision to drop the case, but it obviously didn't fully understand what that meant. The statement says:
After a four-month-long investigation involving over 70 personal interviews and hundreds of police man hours, the Charlottesville Police Department today formally cleared the Virginia Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity of all sexual assault allegations stemming from a November 19, 2014 Rolling Stone article erroneously accusing Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit.
Since the Rolling Stone article came out, Phi Kappa Psi and UVA as a whole became the prime example of the problems with sexual assault at universities and the fraternity resents all the negative attention. The statement reads:
In its controversial article, Rolling Stone recklessly and prejudicially thrust the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi into the center of a national debate on the topic of sexual assault on college campuses. When key elements of the story were revealed to be untrue, the magazine backed away from its support of the story, yet to this day the article remains posted on Rolling Stone’s website.
In between the pity party and the unnecessarily strong adjectives, the fraternity also showed support for sexual assault victims. In the statement, the president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, Stephen Scipione, says:
These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault. We hope that Rolling Stone’s actions do not discourage any survivors from coming forward to seek the justice they deserve.
Phi Kappa Psi is now looking into its legal options to "address the extensive damage caused by Rolling Stone — damage both to the chapter and its members and to the very cause upon which the magazine was focused." If this turns into a lawsuit, the fraternity and the magazine might be in the spotlight for much longer.
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