Things Fall Apart

In my first post about the University of Virgina rape case I stated, “All the problems here lie with Rolling Stone and its poor handling of this story. We do not know that Jackie lied about the gang rape. As I noted, perhaps it did happen. Perhaps it happened at another location. Perhaps it involved other people. It is also possible this is a lie. The entire story could be a lie. She could have conned everyone, including her friends and the activists.

We do not know, and given what happened to Rolling Stone when they jumped to conclusions, I suggest everyone else exercise restraint in calling Jackie a false accuser. Wait until more information becomes available.”

Thanks to the Washington Post’s investigation of Jackie’s claims, more information has become available, and it is not good for Jackie.

According to a recent Washington Post article, the three friends Jackie first told about her story to claim that the version of events published in Rolling Stone is wrong:

The scene with her friends was pivotal in the article, as it alleged that the friends were callously apathetic about a beaten, bloodied, injured classmate reporting a brutal gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The account alleged that the students worried about the effect it might have on their social status and how it might reflect on Jackie during the rest of her collegiate career and that they suggested not reporting it. It set up the article’s theme: That U-Va. has a culture that is indifferent to rape.

“It didn’t happen that way at all,” Andy said.

Instead, the friends remember being shocked. Although they did not notice any blood or visible injuries, they said they immediately urged Jackie to speak to police and insisted that they find her help. Instead, they said, Jackie declined and asked to be taken back to her dorm room. They went with her — two said they spent the night — seeking to comfort Jackie in what appeared to be a moment of extreme turmoil.

“I mean, obviously, we were very concerned for her,” Andy said. “We tried to be as supportive as we could be.”

That is the first of many new revelations. The friends told The Post that the name Jackie gave them did not match anyone in the school’s database. They checked for the name prior to Jackie’s date with the man. They wanted to know more about him, but found no record of him.

Jackie sent her friends a photo of the man she claimed had a crush on her, yet that image turned out to be one of a boy she casually knew from high school. The young man told The Post that he barely knew Jackie, had not been to Charlottesville in six years, and had participated in an athletic event in another state at the time the alleged gang-rape occurred.

One of the friends, given the alias “Randall”, contested another claim made in Rolling Stone’s article. In the article, Sabrina Erdely stated that Randall refused an interview. However, Randall told The Post that he was never contacted by anyone for an interview, and would have granted one had he been asked.

In another instance, Jackie told a sexual violence specialist who worked at U-Va. that she had been attacked by five students. Now she claims it was seven.

There are more problems with Jackie’ story:

Last week, for the first time, Jackie revealed a name of her main alleged attacker to other friends who had known her more recently, those recent friends said. That name was different from the name she gave Andy, Cindy and Randall that first night. All three said that they had never heard the second name before learning it from a reporter.

On Friday, The Post interviewed a man whose name is similar to the second one Jackie used for her main attacker. He said that although he was a lifeguard at the same time as Jackie, he had never met her in person and never taken her out on a date. He also said that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

Feminists have spent the last week trying to explain away the inconsistencies in Jackie’s story. Several published articles arguing that people should believe accusers by default. Some ran articles explaining how trauma survivor’s memories can be fragmented. Some argued against calling cases with massive inconsistencies hoaxes. Others posted pieces arguing that false accusations are so rare they are rarer than sexual violence against males.

None of that changes the problems with Jackie’s story. As Hanna Rosin noted in her article about The Post’s new piece:

The Washington Post has an update on Rolling Stone’s UVA story that strongly implies, without outright saying so, that the gang rape at the center of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article might be fabricated.

It looks that way. There are so many problems with the story that it is hard to claim they result from traumatic memory loss. Either Jackie’s memory is so fragmented that she has filled the gaps with whatever she learned from the activists she encountered, she was assaulted by someone else somewhere but claimed it happened at U-Va., or she lied. There is no way her story as reported in Rolling Stone could be true.

It is understandble that people would reject that idea. Even the  friends she deceived (at least in regards to the identity and potential existence of her date) continue to support her. Randall told The Post:

“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before, and I really hope I never have to again. . . . If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”

Yet is possible that Jackie lied. It is also possible that Erdely lied. Rosin mentioned the claim about Randall refusing an interview:

That could mean one of two things: Jackie could have given Erdely fake contact information for Randall and then posed as Randall herself, sending the reporter that email in which he supposedly declined to participate in the story. Erdely also could have lied about trying to contact Randall. Rolling Stone might have hinted at this possibility in its “Note to Our Readers” when it referred to a “friend of Jackie’s (who we were told would not speak to Rolling Stone)” but later spoke to the Washington Post. That would take Erdely a big step beyond just being gullible and failing to check her facts, moving this piece in the direction of active wrongdoing.

More disconcerting is that it appears Erdely sought out a story like Jackie’s. According to Rosin, when asked why she settled on Jackie’s story, Erdely stated that she called universities and received “typical” stories about rape. Jackie’s story was different and sensational. This is apparently not the first time Erdely did something like this.

I am still unwilling to call this a case of a false accusation. Yet I will say that the new evidence certainly makes it appear to be false. Even if it is not, there are enough problems with Jackie’s credibility that it would be difficult to keep the case from being dismissed, let alone get a conviction.

These revelations should also be a warning to people arguing that we ought to believe every claim a woman makes about rape by default. Sometimes it is a good idea to listen but verify.

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28 thoughts on “Things Fall Apart

  1. Sorry, TS. This is a false accusation. Integral details are shown to be false. Even if something traumatic happened, the direction of the accusations is clearly not warranted.

    I won’t go so far as to say *any* inconsistencies in a story would indicate false accusation. But technically, identifying the wrong attacker makes it false. Identifying the wrong location makes it false. Incorrect descriptions of the attack make it false.

    I am a *survivor* of an anonymous sexual-assault-under-death-threat almost forty years ago. No PTSD here, just saying that I remember the precise location, how it occurred, what I was forced to do, things the attacker said, what he looked like, you name it.

  2. I understand your point and I technically agree. I have a good memory of the things I experienced as well. I do find it hard to believe someone could be this inconsistent and still be telling the truth. However, it is possible.

    As for the account itself, I also agree the story she initially told is likely untrue. To what extent is unclear.

  3. …they said they immediately urged Jackie to speak to police and insisted that they find her help. Instead, they said, Jackie declined and asked to be taken back to her dorm room.

    That’s all you need to know. You’re in a horrific state, three friends show up, urge you to go to the police, insist on finding you help…. and you refuse? What sane, honest person does this? If I had just been mugged and beaten badly by my attackers, and my friends showed up, I damn well am taking their offer of help to get to the police/medical professionals. This woman was a liar from the beginning.

    If you counter with, “Well, rape is a horrible crime that is very personal, a woman might not have the strength of will to go to the police…” Then you’re little more than a white knight. Women have the same responsibility to society that everyone else does. If a crime is committed against them, it is them, and ONLY THEM who can demonstrate the courage to follow an appropriate procedure for criminal proceedings to be effective.

    As a matter of fact, every single PSA/educational video I’ve ever seen on rape tells women to immediately go to law enforcement and medical rape specialists if they believe a crime has been committed. That’s the procedure, that’s what women are supposed to do. The fact that this woman, with people she trusted surrounding her, concerned about her, and insisting she go to the police… and she refuses…. That tells you her story was bullshit from the beginning.

  4. I think there is a VERY important distinction you are missing.

    Rolling Stone made a patently false gang rape accusation. With the intent of causing problems for UVA and fraternities. It was Rolling Stone that made the assertion of factual accuracy of the claims. It was Rolling Stone that pushed this into national headlines. It is Rolling Stone that is the perpetrator.

    It is wrong to put this on “Jackie”. She knew her story was inconsistent to the point of being incoherent. She didn’t report it to the police because she thought there was nothing they could do with such a jumbled piled of confused non-sense. It is not a huge leap that her memory is so fragmented that she filled in the gaps with whatever she learned from activists.

    Something bad happened to Jackie, but thanks to Rolling Stone turning it into a media circus what that “Something” is will never be known. So please keep any and all blame where it belongs. On Rolling Stone and Erdely, not Jackie.

  5. I’m starting to wonder if Jackie is mentally ill. Her roommate and friends describe her as depressed and withdrawn, and now it’s possible she’s delusional. She should be checked for schizophrenia, which appears at her age. There’s no doubt about feminism, though, that’s definitely gone mad.

  6. ““Jackie” knew her story was inconsistent to the point of being incoherent. ”

    Maybe, maybe not. You have to wonder about the state of a person who would tell a story like that to a reporter.

  7. Jeremy, many victims choose not to report their assaults after telling their friends. They may even reject going to the hospital. So I do not think that is a major point to focus on.

    What we be an issue is if Jackie told other people that the police would not help her. I do not think she did that, but if she did, then her refusal to report would be telling.

  8. GNL, Jackie told Rolling Stone her story. Any inconsistencies are her responsibility, not the magazine’s. If they misrepresented her story that would be different. However, it appears they ran the story she told them.

  9. Peterman, I am hesitant to assume she is mentally ill. Sometimes people lie for attention or to belong or for revenge. I also think saying she is mentally ill lets her skirt responsibility if she lied.

  10. @Toysoldier

    Jeremy, many victims choose not to report their assaults after telling their friends. They may even reject going to the hospital. So I do not think that is a major point to focus on.

    I disagree.
    Let’s create another example. Let’s suppose that someone decides to try to poison me. My friends find me in my near-death state. They tell me I should go to the police and the doctor yet I refuse both their aid and ask them to say nothing. I survive the ordeal without any detectable damage to by body. Now lets say I wait until 2 years after the incident and tell my story to the press only, then I insist that they never question anyone else and just run with my story.

    I think everyone on earth could be forgiven for considering me a total liar. This is 2 years after my claimed incident, no evidence exists of it, and I refused to take care of the problem when evidence did exist. Whether I am lying or not, I should expect everyone to consider me a liar.

    I’m sorry, I will not buy the argument that women should be further protected from their own responsibility to report crimes against them at the earliest available opportunity, to do so actually demeans women and is incredibly sexist. Women have a responsibility to society to report crimes against them such that they can be acted on appropriately. When you take that responsibility away from women, when you shield them and coddle them, don’t be surprised when they abuse the protection you give them and ask you to believe utter nonsense.

  11. Jeremy, sexual violence is different from most other crimes. It is more similar to physical abuse or prison abuse. People are often embarrassed by the assaults, afraid of retaliation by the abuser, and afraid no one will believe them. Someone failing to report the abuse until years later is normal, as is never reporting the abuse.

    Jackie’s case presents a different problem in that she told her story to many people over the last two years, then told it to a magazine while asking them not to question the men she accused. That does sound odd. However, I do not think you can reasonably conclude Jackie lied based only on that oddity. It is only when considering the other inconsistencies that one could objectively claim she has lied about what happened.

    I also do not think anyone has a responsibility to report crimes committed against them. While I understand the argument of preventing future assaults, the victim is ultimately the one harmed, so if they choose to keep it to themselves, that is their decision. I certainly do not think it is coddling to allow people to decide what does and does not harm them.

  12. Allan, did you really expect left-leaning media outlets to report anything about the experiences of the male students on the receiving end of the controversy?

  13. I understand a rape victim not going to the hospital. But didn’t Jackie say she was assaulted on a floor covered with broken glass? How could she not go to the emergency room? She would be bleeding like crazy, and not the kind of cuts that close on their own.

  14. Jackie did tell her story to Rolling Stone. She did not put pen to paper and write the story. She did not approve the story for publication. She did not publish the story. She did not advertize and promote the story. It is on the journalist and the publisher to do fact checking and investigations to verify the validity of stories before they are published.

    Simply put “Someone Lied” isn’t a story, but a suposedly journalistic publisher published the lie is. That the lie, still unchecked, prompted the banning of fraternities at UVA is. That the feminist fabricated victimhod machine melted down is a story. “Someone Lied” and the details about that lie is a meaningless footnote for what started a shit storm.

  15. “Any inconsistencies are her responsibility, not the magazine’s.”

    BS. Perhaps I misunderstand but this sounds very unwise. RS is not some student blog. The power of that publication is evident in the chaos they created. They must have some loyalty to objective, verifiable “truth” (i.e. “journalistic standards”, lol, if that exists anymore). They must suffer severe consequences to protect “truth” else we go down the path of relearning why “truth” matters.

    Of course Jackie bears a personal responsibility for her spoken word and “stories” but that is a much different thing. But it should have consequences as well.

    On the matter of truth and all our questions about rape and accusations there of, I find it interesting to look at the long history of humans and how they dealt with such things. False accusations, or even accusations you could not prove were usually very harshly dealt with, i.e. the punishment was given to the accuser if not the accused, lying to the court was punished with death. From the Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, Roman law, it is similar and you can imagine from our chaos why. Such accusations are very distracting, consume much attention and slander truth and crucial social harmony. It’s bizzare how feminists rejecting everything men have accomplished are arguing against due process, any punishmen of false accusation, all of it and blame the chaos on men.

  16. TS: Allan, did you really expect left-leaning media outlets to report anything about the experiences of the male students on the receiving end of the controversy?

    Well no. But I haven’t, and don’t just read left-leaning media. Fox News, various blogs, AVfM’s media links, etc. have not made me aware of any details like what I just linked to/mentioned. There is quite a lot to wonder about. How many male students moved out of their housing to seek safety? How were fraternity organizations exactly affected? That is pretty extreme to just be ignored while feminists chatter on about chatter.

  17. “Peterman, I am hesitant to assume she is mentally ill.”

    This has been my suspicion from the start. But it’s kind of aided and abetted by our culture of mental health professionals who are trained to see mental health issues in political terms of class struggle. Requiring political solutions not individual treatment.

  18. I understand a rape victim not going to the hospital. But didn’t Jackie say she was assaulted on a floor covered with broken glass? How could she not go to the emergency room?

    I forgot about that part. It is odd that she would refuse help if she suffered cuts on broken glass.

  19. GNL, it is silly to argue that Jackie bears no responsibility. Erdely sought out Jackie, but Jackie accepted the interview. She knew that the magazine would publish her story, and she knew that the magazine had national and international reach. If she wanted no part in that, she could have refused and Erdely would have had to look elsewhere. Jackie did not refuse. She told her story and apparently asked the author not to contact the men she accused.

    I agree Rolling Stone made a mistake in accepting Jackie’s story without fact-checking it, but that is a separate issue. They could have fact-checked it and ran the story with all the information we know today, and still Jackie would bear sole responsibility for giving inconsistent details about the alleged assault.

  20. Allan, as I explained to GNL, Jackie is responsible for the story she told. Rolling Stone made a mistake in publishing the story without fact-checking it, yet that does not change that story’s inconsistencies all stem from Jackie. They are two separate issues.

    As for the media coverage, most of it has focused on the “crisis” of sexual assault on college campuses and Rolling Stone’s retraction. Those are the “juicier” stories. When those stories reach their click-bait limit, the media may be willing to cover some of the treatment the male students experienced, especially if it turns out Jackie’s story is completely false.

  21. “‘I understand a rape victim not going to the hospital. But didn’t Jackie say she was assaulted on a floor covered with broken glass? How could she not go to the emergency room?’

    “I forgot about that part. It is odd that she would refuse help if she suffered cuts on broken glass.”

    She also said, according to RS, that she had been punched in the face by a big brute twice her size and that she had been violated with a glass bottle. That sounds like something that would certainly compel a person to seek medical attention. I think anyone would be terrified of hemorrhaging, septicemia, broken jaw or cheekbones, concussion, etc., if that had happened to them.

    In a domestic violence situation, I could see where it would be different. The person may feel attached to their attacker or afraid not just of reprisal but of no longer being loved. In a gang rape situation, that would certainly be terrifying, but I don’t think the average person would avoid seeking medical help in a case like that. The trauma bond is not there, at least not in my opinion, so the victim does not have as much to lose.

    I still don’t know that all the blame should go to Jackie. I admit to not having read the full article. I think it may be that she was sexually assaulted in a very different way somewhere and that Ms. Erdely felt a strong need to embellish the story for maximum dramatic effect. In that case, I would condemn Ms. Erdely and RS more than anyone else.

    Also, what I did read of the story bothered me. The description seemed lurid, as if Ms. Erdely were trying to write sleazoid torture porn instead of a solemn, sympathetic account of the injustice and cruelty of sexual assault.

  22. She also said, according to RS, that she had been punched in the face by a big brute twice her size and that she had been violated with a glass bottle. That sounds like something that would certainly compel a person to seek medical attention.

    Not necessarily. The punches could have hurt, but resulted in any permanent injury. A glass bottle is usually quite strong, and using it to penetrate someone would not cause it to break. One would expect, however, to see bruises from those injuries.

    In a gang rape situation, that would certainly be terrifying, but I don’t think the average person would avoid seeking medical help in a case like that. The trauma bond is not there, at least not in my opinion, so the victim does not have as much to lose.

    Shock makes people go to their primal, fight-or-flight state. It is possible for someone who was gang raped to simply want to go home, crawl into bed, and stay there rather than going to the police because they feel safer at home. Shock also affects how a person physically feels. It is possible that a person in shock may feel fine without realizing how hurt they are. I have had both experiences and I have witnessed them.

    I still don’t know that all the blame should go to Jackie. I admit to not having read the full article. I think it may be that she was sexually assaulted in a very different way somewhere and that Ms. Erdely felt a strong need to embellish the story for maximum dramatic effect. In that case, I would condemn Ms. Erdely and RS more than anyone else.

    If I recall correctly, Jackie stands by the story Rolling Stone published. She has made no claims that Erdely embellished the story, and if that happened one would think she would have said so by now. That said, it does appear that Erdely sought out a story like Jackie’s, one that was harrowing and dramatic, which Erdely did appear to relish describing in the article.

  23. The thing is, I would expect a glass bottle to cause tissue damage even if it did not break. A piece of pipe (forgive the graphic analogy) would not break either, but injury would be highly likely. What you are saying about shock could be true, I guess.

    I do think I read someplace–maybe the Washington Post–that Jackie said she felt “used” by RS and that Ms. Erdely “misrepresented” either her or her story, or both. That was what led me to suspect wrongdoing on the part of the magazine more than Jackie.

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