RICHMOND, Va. (CBSNewYork/AP) — “Rolling Stone” magazine has issued an apology and officially retracted its discredited article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia following a report released by Columbia University Sunday.
The magazine took the action Sunday night after receiving the report from the university’s Graduate School of Journalism on the editorial process that led to the article.
“Rolling Stone” requested the New York City school’s independent review after other news media organizations exposed flaws in the article, “A Rape on Campus,” which was published in November 2014.
By Dec. 5, the magazine issued an apology and acknowledged discrepancies in the article.
The article focused on a student identified only as “Jackie,” who said she was raped by seven men at a fraternity house.
A four-month police investigation produced no evidence that the attack occurred. Jackie refused to cooperate in the police investigation.
Jackie’s friends Alex Stock and Ryan Duffin were quoted in the article, but claim they were never interviewed, CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported. They said they were with Jackie the night of the alleged attack but remember something different.
“No, I didn’t notice any sort of physical injuries,” Duffin said. “I didn’t notice a lack of shoes. I didn’t really notice anything.”
Police said there’s no evidence the fraternity even had a party the night of the alleged attack, Kozar reported.
“We have no basis to conclude that anything happened at that fraternity house,” said Police Chief Timothy Longo.
Columbia’s report said the article alleging rape on the University of Virginia campus was a “story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.” Published on the magazine’s website Sunday night, the report said “the failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”
Managing Editor Will Dana posted an apology on the website, saying the magazine was officially retracting the story.
“We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students,” Dana said in the statement.
“Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings,” the statement also said.
The reporter who wrote the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, also released a statement Sunday, saying in part “Reporting on rape has unique challenges, but the journalist still has the responsibility to get it right. I hope that my mistakes in reporting this story do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard.”
University of Virginia’s president said in a statement the Rolling Stone article damaged the school’s reputation and “did nothing to combat sexual violence, and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue.”
Rolling Stone’s publisher said Erdely will not be fired, nor will the editor.
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