Police: No evidence to support Rolling Stone rape story

By Doug G. Ware

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 23 (UPI) -- The Charlottesville Police Department on Monday said a thorough investigation has found no credible evidence to support claims from a former freshman that she was raped by several men during a party at a University of Virginia fraternity house in 2012 -- allegations that two years later spurred a now-discredited investigative report by Rolling Stone magazine.

In January, Charlottesville police began investigating claims made to the magazine by a student named Jackie. In the story, published in the December 2014 issue, Jackie describes how she was raped by seven men while two others looked on. The story initially sparked outrage, particularly due to the university's purported apathy regarding the case.


Not long after her story's publication, freelance writer Sabrina Erdely came under intense scrutiny after numerous media outlets began identifying discrepancies in the article and problems with her reporting -- and subsequently, Rolling Stone's fact-checking process.


The article was later largely discredited and the magazine issued multiple apologies for the story.

RELATED Rolling Stone asks journalism school to investigate UVA rape story

Monday, Charlottesville police announced the findings of an investigation into the matter and said no supporting evidence could be found to back Jackie's version of events, as told by the Rolling Stone article.

"That doesn't mean something didn't happen. We were just not able to gather sufficient facts," Charlottesville police chief Tim Longo said at a news conference Monday. "No evidence whatsoever to support those claims."

However, Longo stopped short of claiming the allegations did not happen, noting that the evidence doesn't fully support either conclusion.

RELATED UVA suspends all fraternities after gang rape accusations

Erdely's article claimed the rape had occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012 and, in addition to attributing the victim, identified multiple friends and witnesses who she claimed corroborated the story. However, some of those witnesses have since told police and other media outlets that Erdely's article incorrectly attributes them regarding various details of the story.

Monday, Longo said that authorities have not been able to contact or even verify the existence of one of the article's critical figures, named Haven Monahan. According to Erdely, Monahan was Jackie's date the evening of the rape -- but an investigation has determined that no student by that name attends or has attended the University of Virginia. Also, news outlets have reported, a photo purported to be of Monahan -- which was sent via cellphone to Jackie's friends -- has since been identified as a man from the victim's high school yearbook who has no connection to the case at all.


Numerous media outlets, like the Washington Post and New York Times, have since slammed Rolling Stone for the piece.

RELATED Former tennis star Bob Hewitt guilty of raping girls in South Africa

After hundreds of hours of investigating and interviewing about 70 witnesses, authorities said Monday they have suspended the case and will investigate further if new evidence is found.

If the victim filed a false report, she can be charged with a crime. Chief Longo said such charges in this case would first have to be closely evaluated by police and commonwealth attorneys, however. Longo also encouraged any potential witnesses in this case to come forward, and said his department is committed to helping the community in the aftermath of the allegations.

"We are committed to helping," he said. "We are going to continue to do that, to help these students because they deserve that."

RELATED India's federal agents to investigate nun gang-rape

RELATED Rikers Island inmates stop sexual assault of guard

Latest Headlines