UVa Roommate: Jackie's Story 'Is Not a Hoax'

Emily Clark describes suitemate's descent into depression
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2014 1:20 PM CST
UVa. Roommate: Jackie's Story 'Is Not a Hoax'
The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

"I was Jackie’s suitemate first year. I fully support Jackie, and I believe wholeheartedly that she went through a traumatizing sexual assault." So writes Emily Clark in a letter posted last night to the University of Virginia's Cavalier Daily. Clark goes on to describe Jackie's evolution from "bright, happy, and bubbly" to "withdrawn and depressed"—unable to get out of bed to shut off an alarm clock and watching ever-darker selections in endless hours of Netflix, eventually leaving school before December finals in 2012. "I remember her letting it slip to me that she had had a terrible experience at a party. I remember her telling me that multiple men had assaulted her at this party."

To be clear, Clark herself wasn't at the party, and says that "while I cannot say what happened that night, and I cannot prove the validity of every tiny aspect of her story to you, I can tell you that this story is not a hoax, a lie, or a scheme. Something terrible happened to Jackie at the hands of several men who have yet to receive any repercussions." No matter the details, the reporting, or the recollections perhaps skewed by trauma, Clark writes, "the blame should never fall on the victim's shoulders. Jackie is a victim." Clark is not the only voice of support: UVa student Julia Horowitz wrote a piece called "Why we believed Jackie's story" for Politico, writing, "Yes, the story was sensational. But even the most sensational story, it seems, can contain frightening elements of truth." Another student tells CBS: "I think UVa has an opportunity to get it right. We absolutely need to stand with Jackie." Clark's full piece is here. (More University of Virginia stories.)

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