Sunny Hostin

Police: No 'Substantive Basis' to Support UVA Rape Story in Rolling Stone

by Ashley Fantz for CNN

CNN | March 23, 2015 - Charlottesville Police said Monday that investigators found no "substantive basis" to support a University of Virginia female student's story that she was raped at the Phi Kappa Psi house, an account that Rolling Stone published last November.

"Jackie" told the magazine that in late September 2012, she was assaulted at the house, the article said. Police Chief Tim Longo noted that just because police found no evidence to support her account, "That doesn't mean that something terrible didn't happen to Jackie" on the day in question.

Longo said he welcomed any information that might still be out there about the case.

The Rolling Stone story generated controversy from the moment it came out, first sparking a debate about the prevalence of rape on college campuses throughout the country. But then the controversy turned toward the story's content when apparent contradictions and discrepancies in the article came to light.

Rolling Stone said it did not get the accounts of those accused in the piece, and apologized. Editors vowed to conduct their own investigation, which is expected to be published in early April.

Longo said Jackie did not give police a statement during their investigation.

CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin said it's not unusual for a sexual assault victim to avoid the criminal process.

"Sometimes they can't deal with the probing that occurs. They don't want to submit to a rape kit. They're embarrassed. They know that they will be scrutinized, quite frankly. So that in and of itself ... doesn't make this young woman a liar," she said.

Hostin pointed out that only about 2% of rapes that are reported are false, and only about 40% of rapes that occur are even reported: "So the suggestion that she just sort of made this entire thing up flies in the face of the statistics."

Nine out of 11 people at the fraternity house at the time the sexual assault allegedly occurred talked to police, Longo said. None of them said they knew about a rape, he said, and investigators further determined that it was unlikely a party even happened at the fraternity house on the day in question as was alleged in the Rolling Stone story.

The Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, talked to police, authorities said, but there were some questions she declined to answer for journalistic reasons. It's unclear what those questions were.

In total, authorities spoke to 70 people as part of their investigation, and just two believed that Jackie was the victim of something, Capt. Gary Pleasants told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"The two of them were fairly convinced that something had happened -- not the way it was described, the way it was written. But they thought, again, that something had probably occurred," he said.

After the story's publication, UVA suspended the fraternity's activities, and outrage spread throughout campus as many struggled to comprehend the horrific experience that Jackie said she endured.

The article also suggested the school failed to respond to the alleged assault.

Phi Kappa Psi released a statement Monday, saying the "discredited" story has done significant damage, while acknowledging the "importance of sexual assault issues on America's college campuses."

The fraternity asked Rolling Stone to "fully and unconditionally retract its story."

Rolling Stone editors said they chose not to contact the man who allegedly orchestrated the attack on Jackie, or any of the men she said participated in her alleged assault, "because the editors feared retaliation against her," the magazine said, adding that it regretted that decision.

"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," Rolling Stone said in December.

Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana later tweeted that "the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story."

Rolling Stone issued an apology for discrepancies in its article and began to fact-check it. Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has been leading the independent review, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter reported Sunday. Stelter said there has been much speculation about Coll's findings.

Columbia University's review will be published in early April in the magazine.

"I can't really say I'm surprised since so much of the evidence was already called into question," a former friend of Jackie's said in response to what police found. "I think it's great that they're staying open to considering any new evidence that comes up."

Ryan Duffin added: "I've resigned myself to realize that I might never know what did or didn't happen."

CNN's Sara Ganim and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

Read this article on

Back to top ↑