Victim Advocates Worry That Journalism Based on Facts Could Hurt Their MovementPosted: March 24, 2015 | |
Rolling Stone‘s Worrisome Discredited Rape Account
BALTIMORE — With the account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia debunked by police, advocates for sexual assault survivors are worried a movement that gained tremendous momentum in the past year could suffer a setback.
“The average American might say, ‘If she lied, they must all be lying so we shouldn’t pay attention to the issue at all,’ and there will be an immediate chilling effect.”
— Liz Seccuro, explaining her sincere belief that Americans, after encountering one debunked rape story, will no longer care about potential rape victims and decide to permanently stop paying attention to all rape allegations
A Rolling Stone article about a student identified only as “Jackie” described an alleged rape on campus and a culture of binge-drinking and looking the other way when students filed sexual assault complaints. The story intensified the national conversation about rapes on college campuses and prompted changes at the university, but on Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said a months-long investigation turned up no evidence of a sexual assault, or any wrongdoing by the school.
“I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”
— Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, missing the ‘positive impact’ of honest, fact-based reporting, compared to the ‘negative impact’ of corrupt, dishonest, agenda-driven reporting by Rolling Stone
“One false report should not diminish the seriousness with which we take on the challenge of sexual assault on campus,” said Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative and an advocate for sexual assault survivors for more than two decades. “I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”
Police said Jackie refused to talk to them after the article was published in November. In the article, Jackie said she was gang-raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house two years earlier, and the school systematically mishandled sex assault complaints.
The school said it did everything right, including helping “Jackie” reach out to police after she told a dean about a sexual assault.
The story was published just seven months after the Department of Education for the first time publicly disclosed the names of colleges and universities under investigation for violations of Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits gender discrimination on college campuses and has been widely used by survivors of sexual assault to seek justice. The federal list includes University of Virginia and more than 100 other schools.
While the police chief was careful to say that the investigation “cannot rule out that something might have happened to Jackie somewhere and at some time on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012,” he said the department was “simply unable to reach a definitive conclusion.”
Some advocates say the revelations could cause a chilling effect…(more)
- Police find no evidence of gang rape described in Rolling Stone (theglobeandmail.com)
- Charlottesville Police Find No Evidence in U-Va. Sexual Assault Case (blackpressusa.com)
- Investigation outlines key events of alleged UVa gang rape (bismarcktribune.com)
- Investigation Outlines Key Events of Alleged UVa Gang Rape (abcnews.go.com)
- Police can’t confirm rape at University of Virginia (toledoblade.com)
- Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Unravels: ‘No Evidence’ Found (newsy.com)