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Rolling Stone has backtracked on widely circulated article that recounted gang rape at a UVA fraternity house and the administration’s attempts to allegedly cover up sexual assaults at the university. Today (Dec. 5), the magazine’s managing editor admitted there are “discrepancies” in the main subject of the story’s account. 

In the note, Rolling Stone ME Will Dana stands by most of the reporting in the story, but then proceeds to admit that the crux of the piece—a harrowing account of gang rape—has become every fact checker’s, and magazine editor’s, worst nightmare.

Says Rolling Stone:

Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone’s editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie’s credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie’s account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn’t confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence. 

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. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

This, is a fail of epic proportions. It’s also unfortunate because it places an unnecessary dark cloud over the accounts of women who have genuinely been sexually assaulted.

In the wake of RS’ story, UVA suspended the activities of all campus fraternal organizations pending an investigation. Phi Kappa Psi, the frat at the center of the story, has issued a statement.

[Full Disclosure: The author of this piece is a UVA alum, but damn sure doesn’t consider any rapist a fellow Wahoo.]

Photo: AP Photos