The late withdrawal of Rolling Stone of its highly controversial rape article that supposedly talks about a rape case that transpired in Virginia opened the door to various legal damage claims. Media watchers and victim advocates said that it has also raised some eyebrows as to how the university handled the situation,
Tobe Berkovitz, a media expert at Boston University said that, “If I was that fraternity, I’d have a lot of big legal offices on my speed dial and I would just be teeing them up.” He also said that, “The University of Virginia is, I think, also responsible for not thoroughly investigating and sort of going beyond what would be responsible for an administration to make sure that justice is served. I think they have failed on pretty much every level.”
The report published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism last night dubbed the story behind such article as “A Rape on Campus,” published in Rolling Stone last November, a “story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.”
The report which was posted on the magazine’s website, accompanied by an apology from Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana, who also announced that the publication was officially retracting the story stated that “The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking,”
The article talked about a student referred as “Jackie who said she was supposedly raped by at least seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house a couple of years ago. The absence of her cooperation however did not give the police that strong of an evidence to work with.
The report also suggests that people offered to validate her claims were not interviewed, and as a result gave serious doubt on Jackie’s claims.
Laurie Meyers, founder of Community VOICES, a victim advocate group who has extensive experience counseling rape victims said that “If these stories are going to be written about, then they have to base on facts. I don’t think it does anybody any favors if they’re not,” She added that, “But on the other side of it, as a person who works with victims … most often they did not want to go and file a police report, so there was never documentation there. But did it mean to me that they weren’t sexually assaulted? No, and it was my job to assist them. I don’t even know what to say at this point.”
“On the one hand, women who are actually raped are going to find that people are going to be much more skeptical of them because they have seen yet another lurid campus rape story explode.” He further explained that, “Second of all, it has tarred men as presumptive rapists on campus, particularly fraternities, and that created greater gender divisions. Even though this story has collapsed, that division will probably remain.