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Why Did We Believe the Jackie Rape Story?

...and other reactions to Rolling Stone's controversial article
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2014 4:07 PM CST

(Newser) – With the University of Virginia gang-rape story springing leaks, reactions are rolling in—including a piece on why many people believed the horrific tale of seven frat-house boys committing ritualized rape. The answer: "We found something in that article that struck a chord with us," writes Julia Horowitz, a UVa. student, at Politico. That chord reverberated with statistics like one in five female students being sexually assaulted at college, and only 8% to 9% of rape reports later being reported false. "Yes, the story was sensational," Horowitz writes. "But even the most sensational story, it seems, can contain frightening elements of truth." Among other reactions:

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  • Rolling Stone initially blamed the accuser, Jackie, saying that "our trust in her was misplaced," the Washington Post reports. But after weathering criticism for days, the magazine says that "mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie."
  • Yet Rolling Stone has not retracted or amended the story, which is still available online, writes Tim Cavanaugh at the National Review. Cavanaugh notes that the Stone's managing editor, Will Dana, "does not specify whether the story is considered retracted, under revision, being corrected, or in some other status."
  • The fraternity where the rape allegedly occurred, Phi Kappa Psi, has issued a a "stupid, carefully worded press release," writes Sam Biddle at Gawker. He says it sounds like "a former frat-bro lawyer" wrote the statement, which contains denials too vague to carry any weight.
  • Which leaves us where? "It’s still quite possible that something happened to Jackie that night," writes Hanna Rosin at Slate. It's hard to believe she cooked up a story that would so easily unravel, "but strange things happen. And more information will surely come out soon."
(Read more rape stories.)

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