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Last true Rolling Stone believer: “Jackie,” who says she’d be “re-traumatized” in deposition

April 1, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

People gather with signs during a protest at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. The University of Virginia on Saturday suspended activities at all campus fraternal organizations amid an investigation into a published report in which a student described being sexually assaulted by seven men at a fraternity in 2012. (AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Ryan M. Kelly)

The UVA frat house where “Jackie’s” symbolic rape symbolically occurred

Well, there seems to be one person who actually believes that the events reported in Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” actually took place.

It’s “Jackie” herself, the purported victim of a lurid gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house in September 2012 that everyone from the local police department to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism concluded never took place. Rolling Stone later retracted the November 2014 story, and its author, Rolling Stone contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely, hasn’t been heard from since.

The Washingon Post reports:

“Lawyers representing a former University of Virginia student who claimed she was the victim of a gang rape in a discredited Rolling Stone story have asked a judge to cancel her scheduled deposition in a lawsuit against the magazine, arguing that she would be ‘re-traumatized’ if she is compelled to recount her ordeal in proceedings under oath.”


“’Forcing her to revisit her sexual assault, and then the re-victimization that took place after the Rolling Stone article came out, will inevitably lead to a worsening of her symptoms and current mental health,’ Jackie’s attorneys wrote, citing ‘extensive support in the medical literature; that shows ‘sexual assault victims will experience trauma if they are forced to revisit the details of their assault.’”


“The former student — who in court papers is referred to only by her nickname, Jackie — became the central figure in a 2014 Rolling Stone article that described her account of a vicious sexual assault during her freshman year, an attack she said was carried out over several hours by seven men in a fraternity house bedroom. The 9,000-word exposé highlighted Jackie’s case as a devastating example of rape on a college campus and the struggles she faced while seeking help from members of the U-Va. administration, including the associate dean responsible for handling sexual assault allegations.

‘But reporting by The Washington Post, later confirmed by the Charlottesville Police Department and an investigation by the Columbia University journalism school, showed that the Rolling Stone article was factually inaccurate. The magazine eventually retracted the story and apologized to readers; the fraternity was cleared of all wrongdoing. In May, U-Va. associate dean Nicole Eramo filed a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone, assailing the magazine’s ‘false’ portrayal of her counsel to Jackie as callous and indifferent and arguing that Jackie’s story was a fabrication.”

Hmm. But maybe even if Jackie wasn’t actually traumatized by that non-gang rape in September 2012, she was symbolically  traumatized. After all, there are still plenty of people out there who believe that even if that gang rape at the frat house never occurred, it could have occurred, so what’s the diff? As Melissah Yang wrote for Bustle:

“A reread of ‘A Rape on Campus’ brings a mixed bag of feelings. Even though you know where the story behind the story ends, Jackie’s account remains haunting. This specific case might have holes, but the aftermath outlined by Rolling Stone — skeptical reactions from officials, the difficulties in speaking up about sexual assault — has a familiar feel, an experience that has been echoed by victims at other college campuses. One magazine’s mishandling should not silence those stories and others from coming forward.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen



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One Comment
  1. Lastango permalink

    For Jackie, the mere anticipation of being under oath would be fraught with trauma.

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