Charlottesville Police announced Monday that its investigation into an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity did not find enough evidence to support the account described in a Rolling Stone magazine article published last year.
Charlottesville Chief of Police Tim Longo said during a press conference the case would not be closed, however, because he cannot say conclusively that no assault took place. The alleged victim, a female undergraduate identified only as Jackie, did not provide a statement or any testimony to Charlottesville police during its investigation, Longo said.
"It's a disservice to Jackie and to the university to close this" case without leaving open the possibility that additional information will come to light, Longo said.
The Rolling Stone article published in November detailed the alleged gang rape of Jackie on Sept. 28, 2012, at Phi Psi. Upon the article's publication, UVA President Teresa Sullivan asked Charlottesville, Virginia, police to investigate the incident described in the magazine, while she temporarily suspended social activities for Greek life.
In December, reporting in the Washington Post and other outlets discredited the Rolling Stone's account of the alleged rape. The magazine admitted later that its article had significant errors, and commissioned the Columbia University School of Journalism to conduct an independent review of its reporting and editing of the piece.
"Unfortunately, we're not able to conclude to any substantive degree that an incident that is described in [the article] occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi or any other fraternity, for that matter," Longo said. However, he noted, "that doesn't mean something terrible did not happen to Jackie on Sept. 28, 2012. We're just not able to gather sufficient facts to determine what that is."
UVA lifted the restrictions on fraternities in January. Phi Psi had suspended itself in November, but was reinstated in January after Charlottesville police said it had "found no substantive basis that the alleged incident occurred at that fraternity."
Longo noted that Jackie had told UVA officials about two other cases of sexual assault at Phi Psi -- one in 2010 and the other in 2014 -- but that the police investigation did not find any further information about those alleged incidents. "We're asking if anyone has information that relates to a sexual assault that occurred at that or any other fraternity" to bring it to their attention, Longo said.
Charlottesville police spoke with nine of 11 men who lived in the Phi Psi house in fall 2012, all of whom said they did not know anything about a sexual assault or about Jackie, according to Longo. Police also spoke with Jackie's friends and roommates, reviewed photographic evidence, phone records and interviewed members of other fraternities.
Longo said police also could not determine whether Haven Monahan, the man with whom Jackie said she went on a date on Sept. 28, 2012, even existed.
Stephen Scipione, president of the UVA chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, took a more combative stance in a statement Monday, blaming Rolling Stone for leveling untrue allegations against the fraternity.
"These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault,” Scipione said. “We hope that Rolling Stone’s actions do not discourage any survivors from coming forward to seek the justice they deserve."
UVA first learned of an alleged sexual assault on May 20, 2013, during a meeting between Jackie and Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, Longo said, but Jackie did not say where it took place or who was involved. During an April 2014 meeting with Eramo, after Jackie reported being hit with a glass beer bottle near campus, she disclosed for the first time that her alleged rape had taken place at Phi Psi. A Charlottesville police officer was present at that meeting, Longo said, but Jackie declined to file a report or pursue an investigation into her alleged assault.
Longo said Jackie also declined to waive federal privacy rights to allow police to review educational records they believed would be useful in their investigation. Police did speak with Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the Rolling Stone story, who provided additional information that was not included in the article.
This article has been updated with a comment from the president of the UVA chapter of Phi Kappa Psi.
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