Much of the scrutiny on the Rolling Stone story about the University of Virginia has focused on the account of a young woman known as “Jackie,” what she told whom when about an alleged gang rape, and how the magazine did or didn’t verify the facts around it. But the apparent institutional indifference to following up on such an allegation, a core part of the same article, has not been disputed, and has now been corroborated by an account in a local newspaper.
The Daily Progress in Charlottesville reports, citing an unnamed “participant” in the meetings in question, that “University of Virginia officials knew in mid-September about allegations of a sexual attack at a school fraternity yet by their own account did not request a police investigation until after a Rolling Stone story launched a firestorm more than two months later.”
The newspaper article describes a meeting between Nicole Eramo, an associate dean and head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, on September 17 of this year with Phi Kappa Psi representatives to inform them of the allegations.
An associate dean met Sept. 17 with Phi Kappa Psi representatives to inform them of the allegations, and school President Teresa A. Sullivan, the story says, “alluded to them less than three weeks later in an early October meeting with the local chapter.” But Sullivan only requested a police investigation after the Rolling Stone story came out and drew national attention.
Some of what the Rolling Stone piece reported is in dispute, specifically with regards to “Jackie’s” story. The magazine has remained mum since issuing a terse statement on December 5, apparently pending a “re-reporting” of the story. But what so far hasn’t been challenged, and is underlined by the Daily Progress report, is that a student told a dean she was gang-raped, eventually passed two other allegations of gang rape at the same fraternity she had heard from other women, and then the dean neither warned the campus nor told the police.
The Rolling Stone story says of Eramo:
A UVA alum herself, Eramo is beloved by survivors, who consider her a friend and confidante – even though, as only a few students are aware, her office isn’t a confidential space at all. Each time a new complaint comes through Eramo’s office, it activates a review by UVA’s Title IX officer, is included in UVA’s tally of federally mandated Clery Act crime statistics, and Eramo may, at her discretion, reveal details of her conversation with the student to other administrators. (Jackie was mortified to learn later that Eramo had shared her identity with another UVA administrator.) After all, a dean’s foremost priority is the overall safety of the campus.
“Jackie,” the woman who alleged a gang-rape at a campus fraternity, declined to make an official report or call the police. Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote, “In the meantime, having presumably judged there to be no threat to public safety, the UVA administration took no action to warn the campus that an allegation of gang rape had been made against an active fraternity.”
The Rolling Stone report also says that “Within days of the [university] board meeting [in September], having learned of Rolling Stone’s probe into Jackie’s story, UVA at last placed Phi Kappa Psi under investigation.” The fraternity has denied having a party that night, and though Rolling Stone wrote the alleged lead assailant worked with Jackie as a lifeguard, that no member was so employed.