UVA Should Help Police Catch Alleged Rapists -- Now.
I wrote last week about the explosive rape allegations against a University of Virginia fraternity in Rolling Stone. This morning I see that Richard Bradley, a former editor at George who had the unhappy distinction of having been taken in by Stephen Glass, is raising questions about the story and the reporting by the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
I read Bradley's article and thought, “well, if there are problems with Erdely's story, it will probably come out eventually, because there’s enough detail that can be checked.” But there’s a corollary to that: If the Rolling Stone article's allegations are true, there’s also enough detail to put at least a couple of people in jail, and possibly the whole group, even if Jackie (the victim) is reluctant to assist the investigation.
For starters, there are two people whom the university can surely identify right now. First is “Drew,” the boy who worked as a lifeguard at the university pool with her, invited her to the party, and handed her over to his brothers to be raped. There are about 80 brothers in this fraternity; the odds that more than one of them was an upperclassman lifeguard in 2012 seem pretty small, unless this happens to be the swim team frat.
Second is the kid who raped her with a beer bottle when he found himself unable to maintain an erection; she says she recognized him as a classmate from a small anthropology discussion group. The story strongly implies that the rape was an initiation ritual for the fraternity, and since fraternity rush takes place in the second half of freshman year at UVA, this boy was almost certainly a sophomore, or maybe an upperclassman who transferred in. At any rate, it’s very unlikely that there is more than one young man who was a new member of Phi Kappa Psi in 2012, and also a member of lower-level anthropology class. The university ought to be able to identify these two young men in a matter of a few hours.
But the university may well be able to identify everyone, because the story strongly suggests that an entire new class of Phi Kappa Psi brothers participated in a gang rape, either of Jackie or of the two other girls who she learned were also gang raped at the fraternity around the same time that she had been. As far as I can tell, Virginia has no statute of limitations on rape, which means the police should be aggressively investigating these sickening allegations. The university has a duty to its own community, and to the community at large, to do its utmost to identify as many rapists as possible, and help the police to bring them to justice. And all of us who have a stake in reducing rape -- which is to say, all of us who are not rapists -- should be putting as much pressure as possible on the UVA administration to ensure that it does exactly that.
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