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Rolling Stone Retracts UVA Rape Exposé and Apologizes for "Journalistic Failure"

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Robyn Ross

Rolling Stone magazine has officially retracted its December article "A Rape on Campus," calling the story, which came under fire for unsubstantiated claims, a "journalistic failure that was avoidable."

The original story featured a University of Virginia student's gruesome story of her alleged gang rape at one of the college's fraternity houses. But when people began to question the details, the magazine commissioned the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism to do a full report on the account. The results have been published here under the headline: "A Rape on Campus: What Went Wrong?"

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"The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking," the magazine article states. "The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine's editors to reconsider publishing Jackie's narrative so prominently, if at all. The published story glossed over the gaps in the magazine's reporting by using pseudonyms and by failing to state where important information had come from. In late March, after a four-month investigation, the Charlottesville, Va., police department said that it had 'exhausted all investigative leads' and had concluded, 'There is no substantive basis to support the account alleged in the Rolling Stone article.'"

In a lengthy statement to The New York Times, the article's author Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote: "The past few months ... have been among the most painful of my life. Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience. I want to offer my deepest apologies: to Rolling Stone's readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues,to theU.V.A. community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article... Reporting on rape has unique challenges, but the journalist still has the responsibility to get it right. I hope that my mistakes in reporting this story do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard."

Read the full report here.