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After apology, Rolling Stone changes its story once more

Students held a candlelight vigil to raise awareness on sexual assault Friday night as Rolling Stone cited “discrepancies” in an article that reported a gang rape in a campus fraternity. (Video: Reuters)

Rolling Stone has amended a statement published Friday about its widely criticized story detailing an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity.

The initial three-paragraph statement was published after doubts about the accuser’s story continued to emerge, setting off days of fierce criticism directed toward the magazine and the story’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

In its initial statement, Rolling Stone appeared to place blame for the story’s unraveling on the unidentified accuser, a student referred to as “Jackie.” Some activists saw that stance as throwing blame on the woman who told the story of her assault. The statement, signed by managing editor Will Dana, said that “there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account,” before adding, “We have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”

A day later, without mentioning that the statement had been updated, the magazine appeared to pivot, noting that the “mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.” The updated statement notes that there appear to be “discrepancies” in Jackie’s account. It acknowledges reporting from The Washington Post and other outlets that called details of Rolling Stone’s reporting into question.

“We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate,” Dana said in the updated statement. “Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie’s request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening.”

For some observers like Jaclyn Friedman, who co-edited a book on rape culture titled “Yes Means Yes,” the amended statement was too little too late.

“This statement is okay but the horse is out of the barn, damage to Jackie has already been done,” Friedman told The Post. “People are calling her a liar and calling this a hoax based on the fact that Rolling Stone said their faith in her had been misplaced.”

h/t BuzzFeed

Jessica Contrera and Sarah Kaplan contributed to this post, which has been updated.

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