Some Cast Doubt on Alleged UVA Gang Rape Article

Posted: Updated: Dec 03, 2014 05:36 PM
. .
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Several outlets are now calling into question the credibility of the Rolling Stone magazine article centered on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Some are skeptical, but others defend the article's integrity.

The 9,000 word piece by freelance writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely focuses on a woman identified as "Jackie", who says she was raped by seven men in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house two years ago.

However, some think there are holes in Erdely's article.

Recent headlines like "Rolling Stone Whiffs in Reporting on Alleged Rape", "Is the UVA Rape Story a Gigantic Hoax?" and "Is the Rolling Stone Story True?" reflect the doubt some sources have in the scathing article published two weeks ago.

The Washington Post criticizes Erdely's reporting on the supposed sexual assault in September 2012, saying the author didn't talk to the alleged attackers and there are witnesses in her article who are not named.

But the victim's friend Annie Forrest, who is a UVA rape survivor, stands by what she told NBC29 last month: The story "Jackie" told her matches exactly what was written in the Rolling Stone magazine piece.

“When she told me her story, she had absolutely no reason to fabricate anything. She had no reason to embellish her story whatsoever. I was just someone, another survivor who she could confide in,” said Forrest.

The Daily Progress recently talked to ethics expert Kevin Smith on this issue. Smith said, "Anytime you grant blanket anonymity to so many sources, you run the risk of having those individuals, who know they're not going to be held accountable for their words, to tell inaccurate stories."

In a New York Times article about the controversy, two journalism professors defended Erdely, saying it was not misleading.

Regardless, some university students and alumni say the important thing is that this article started a dialogue for change at UVA.

“This article was triggering to a lot of people, and it is great to have the extra resources for people to talk confidentially of things to talk about from their past, things that have happened on campus,” said Emily Renda.

It is not unusual for journalists to allow sources to remain anonymous under certain circumstances. Additionally, experts say it is not uncommon for a journalist to not question the accused un-named men either.

Rolling Stone magazine is standing by the article, citing their extensive reporting and fact-checking and calling “Jackie” both credible and courageous.