Police: No evidence to support sex assault claims in Rolling Stone-UVA story

Published: Mar. 23, 2015 at 5:53 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2015 at 9:55 PM EDT
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There are new findings from investigators in Charlottesville who spent the past few months digging for answers into an alleged gang rape at a UVA fraternity house. A report published in Rolling Stone created national outrage and complaints over how UVA responds to sexual assaults. Later, the magazine admitted inaccuracies in its reporting and now police say they have no evidence the rape actually happened.

Police say they first learned of the alleged rape of a student they're simply referring to as Jackie after that student met with a UVA official about her classes. At that time, officers say Jackie did not want to press any charges. But then came the Rolling Stone report more than a year later. So officers tried to question her but say the student refused to say a word.

Before a host of local and national cameras, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo got straight to the point.

"We're not able to conclude to any substantive degree that an incident consistent with the facts contained in that article occurred," he said.

For months now, his investigators spent hundreds of hours trying to get answers in Jackie's report she was gang raped at a fraternity house at a party in 2012. Officers reached out to nearly two dozen of those fraternity members.

"19 of those questionnaires were returned. None provided information about Jackie or a sexual assault either on September 28, 2012 or at the house. A further investigation revealed that no party had taken place on September 28th as well," he added.

Longo says that's supported by a party given by the fraternity's sister organization that same night and that it's doubtful that there would have been two parties requiring the same guest list.

In the article, Jackie accuses UVA of encouraging her to keep quiet about the incident. NBC 12 wanted to know if police believe UVA responded effectively.

"The University of Virginia has brought together a cadre of professionals in this area to look at their processes and their protocol. I think {UVA} handled this in accordance with the policy that existed at the time. We can debate whether the policy at that time was a good or bad policy. That's not my place," Longo said.

Officers say this case will remain open in the event more information surfaces to bring credibility to Jackie's story. That student nor the reporter who wrote the Rolling Stone report are facing any criminal charges.

After additional fact-checking, Rolling Stone is set to publish an update to its original story next month

Some of the information the investigation did uncover was inconsistent with what was reported by Rolling Stone. Jackie recounted being struck by a bottle and having her roommate later pull pieces of glass from her face, but Longo said the roommate denied ever having to remove glass from her face. Phone records reviewed by the police department also refuted Jackie's claims she called her mother after the alleged attack.

A photo with a timestamp showing the night of the alleged attack shows the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity empty, which raised questions about the veracity of the article. Two of Jackie's best friends told police stories which were also inconsistent with the article, Longo said.

'Rolling Stone' released a note to its readers after the article's publication in November saying there appeared to be discrepancies in the victim's account. The admission came after fallout on campus from the article on campus and harsh criticism of UVA's handling of sexual abuse cases. The university suspended all fraternity activities and lawmakers started proposing changes to how campus rapes are investigated.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for a full review of the university's policies and procedures following the allegations. UVA's President Teresa Sullivan responded to the rape allegations by outlining several reforms, while the Board of Visitors finalized a new zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual assaults.

The writer profiled a student who claimed seven men took turns raping her at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012. Rolling Stone says at the time of its investigation, it had no reason to ever question the credibility of the alleged victim, but the magazine says new information came to light after the publication and editors now believe their trust in Jackie was misplaced.

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