UVA Fraternity To Pursue Legal Action Against Rolling Stone After Retracted Rape Story

UVA Fraternity To Pursue Legal Action Against Rolling Stone

NEW YORK -- The University of Virginia fraternity at the center of Rolling Stone's discredited report on an alleged 2012 gang rape on campus announced plans Monday "to pursue all available legal action against the magazine."

The decision comes a day after Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism issued a devastating report highlighting Rolling Stone's "journalistic failure" in publishing its November bombshell, "A Rape on Campus." The fraternity was temporarily suspended following the allegations of a gang rape involving its members, but reinstated this year as no evidence surfaced that any such crime took place.

Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, said in a statement Monday that the Columbia report "demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit.”

He added that “this type of reporting serves as a sad example of a serious decline of journalistic standards.”

Rolling Stone officially retracted the story Sunday night, but Jann Wenner, the magazine's founder and publisher, issued no disciplinary action against writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely and top editors Will Dana and Sean Woods. Wenner's decision shocked many in the journalism community given the magnitude of the editorial collapse, the worst in the magazine's 48-year history.

The Columbia report detailed how Erdely failed to do basic reporting to verify the claims of the story's main source, referred to as "Jackie." Dana and Woods also didn't fulfill their duties in overseeing the story, allowing it to be published without even knowing if the alleged ringleader of the attack -- given the pseudonym "Drew" -- even existed. There is no evidence he does.

Charlottesville police, after interviewing 70 people, concluded last month that there is no evidence to support Jackie's claims.

The fraternity, in a release, noted how Rolling Stone didn't punish those involved in the editorial process and Erdely never apologized directly to members of Phi Kappa Psi in her Sunday night statement.

“Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” Scipione said. “If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it’s time to get serious.”

A Rolling Stone spokeswoman had no immediate reply to the fraternity's announcement.

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