Rolling Stone apologized on Friday and began to walk back a 9,000-word investigative article it published last month depicting an alleged brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity in 2012.
The piece had come under fire in the past week after its author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, acknowledged she did not interview any of the men accused of raping a female student, known as Jackie. Journalistic organizations almost always – or at least should – reach out to individuals accused of crimes to get their side of the story.
The magazine did not pursue interviews with the accused after Jackie requested they not be contacted out of fear of retribution, according to The New York Times.
Rolling Stone stood by its story earlier this week. But it backpedaled on Friday, saying in a note from managing editor Will Dana that "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."
"We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account," Dana said in the note. "We are taking this seriously, and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story."
A note to our readers regarding our UVA rape story: http://t.co/nQZzeAzIrG— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) December 5, 2014
The fraternity was planning to release a statement on Friday rebutting various claims made in the article, including basic facts such as the date of the alleged incident, its lawyer told The Washington Post. UPDATE: The fraternity released a statement denying key parts of the story on Friday afternoon.
Calls seeking comment to both Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia were not immediately returned.
Reporter Laura Nichols contributed to this blog.