Updated — 5:30 p.m. ET
Two weeks after Rolling Stone published a widely read article alleging a student at the University of Virginia was gang raped by seven men, the magazine issued a note to its readers saying trust in their source was "misplaced."
"Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her," Rolling Stone's Managing Editor, Will Dana, wrote in the note. "In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced."
The magazine said it apologizes "to anyone who was affected by the story."
Dana added in a series of tweets on Friday afternoon: "I can't explain the discrepancies between Jackie's account and the counter statements made by Phi Psi,""The fact that there is a story that appears in Rolling Stone in which I don't have complete confidence is deeply unsettling to me."
"We made a judgment – the kind of judgement reporters and editors make every day. And in this case, our judgement was wrong. We should have either not made this agreement with Jackie.or worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. That failure is on us – not on her."
The story claimed a woman named Jackie was raped by seven men at a fraternity house and that the university failed to respond to the assault. The article garnered so much attention that the university suspended all fraternities for the rest of the semester and UVA president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation into the matter.
UVA was under federal investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights over how they handle sexual violence well before the Rolling Stone story was published.
Rolling Stone magazine was criticized for not talking to the alleged perpetrators. Author Sabrina Rubin Erdely said she had an agreement with Jackie to not contact them.
The Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi issued a statement detailing some of the discrepancies of the Rolling Stone story.
The release says they have determined that no member of the fraternity worked at the Aquatic and Fitness Center at any capacity in 2012. The statement also claims that the Chapter did not have a social event during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012.
"Our Chapter's pledging and initiation periods, as required by the University and Inter-Fraternity Council, take place solely in the spring semester and not in the fall semester. We document the initiation of new members at the end of each spring. Moreover, no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process. This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim," the statement reads.
Given the investigation is ongoing, the fraternity said this is the only information it will provide at the moment and that they will continue to assist investigators in any way possible.
The Washington Post also published a story Friday pointing out inconsistencies in Jackie's story and added that local police are investigating her rape allegations.
Earlier this week, Jackie revealed to friends for the first time the full name of her alleged attacker, a name she had never disclosed to anyone. But after looking into that person's background, the group that had been among her closest supporters quickly began to raise suspicions about her account. The friends determined that the student that Jackie had named was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match up with information Jackie had disclosed earlier about her perpetrator.
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan today issued the following statement:
The University of Virginia is aware of today's reports from the Washington Post and the statement from Rolling Stone magazine.
The University remains first and foremost concerned with the care and support of our students and, especially, any survivor of sexual assault. Our students, their safety, and their wellbeing, remain our top priority.
Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses. Today's news must not alter this focus.
We will continue to take a hard look at our practices, policies and procedures, and continue to dedicate ourselves to becoming a model institution in our educational programming, in the character of our student culture, and in our care for those who are victims.
We are a learning community, and we will continue our community-wide discussions and actions on these important issues in the weeks and months ahead. We remain committed to taking action as necessary to bring about meaningful cultural change in our University community.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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