This post is updated.
The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi announced Monday that the fraternity house will file a lawsuit against Rolling Stone, calling the magazine’s reporting that described an alleged gang-rape by some of its members “reckless.”
The lawsuit comes a day after Rolling Stone editors retracted a Nov. 19 story “A Rape on Campus,” that portrayed the chilling account of brutal sexual assault allegedly occurring in the Phi Kappa Psi house at U-Va. in 2012. A Columbia University report issued Sunday described significant lapses by the magazine’s staff while reporting the gang-rape allegations and the story’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and the publication’s managing editor, Will Dana, apologized for the deeply flawed account. But the fraternity noted that Erdely did not apologize directly to the Phi Psi chapter at U-Va.
“The report by Columbia University’s School of Journalism demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit,” said Stephen Scipione, U-Va. chapter president of Phi Kappa Psi. “This type of reporting serves as a sad example of a serious decline of journalistic standards.”
The original Rolling Stone story roiled the bucolic campus in Charlottesville. Students demonstrated on the steps of the Phi Psi fraternity house. Phi Psi members went into hiding after the building was vandalized.
The chapter spent “130 days of living under a cloud of suspicion as a result of reckless reporting by Rolling Stone Magazine,” according to Phi Psi. A fraternity spokesman said that the chapter is considering expanding its lawsuit to include Erdely, the story’s author. The spokesman said that there are no plans currently to pursue legal action against Jackie, the U-Va. student who alleged in Rolling Stone that she was gang-raped during a party at the Phi Psi house near campus.
In March the Charlottesville police department detailed a months-long investigation that exonerated the fraternity and found there was no evidence to substantiate the sexual assault allegations described in Rolling Stone. Fraternity members told The Post in the fall that they knew within hours of the article’s publication that there were significant discrepancies in the account. Phi Psi members said that they used social media logs, digital records and financial statements to confirm that the fraternity did not host a function on Sept. 28, 2012, the night Jackie said she was attacked by seven Phi Psi members while two others watched.
Phi Psi members at U-Va. now pledge to undergo sexual assault awareness training and collaborate with sexual violence prevention groups on campus.
“Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” said Scipione. “If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it’s time to get serious.”