Contact: Gina Lauterio
Rolling Stone Verdict Highlights Need for State Lawmakers to Bring an End to Campus Rape Vigilantism
WASHINGTON / November 7, 2016 – A federal jury decided on Friday that Rolling Stone magazine was responsible for libel and acted with “actual malice” in its reporting of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Later this week the jurors will decide on UVA dean Nicole Eramo’s $7.5 million lawsuit demand (1).
Thousands of news accounts and internet sites have now identified the UVA rape accuser as Jackie Coakley of Charlottesville, Virginia (2).
Coakley alleged that a student named “Drew” brought her to the fraternity house where she was led upstairs and brutally raped by seven men. When the assault was reported to Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, Coakley alleged Eramo was more interested in protecting the university’s reputation than helping sexual assault survivors.
Shortly after the article was published, the fraternity house where the rape allegedly occurred was vandalized, forcing its residents to go into hiding; violent protests were held on campus; and death threats were directed to Eramo (3). University president Teresa Sullivan suspended all Greek organizations. Subsequently, the number of applications to the University fell to the lowest level since 2002.
“Eventually, it was revealed that Coakley hadn’t been raped at all, and had apparently invented her story as part of a convoluted scheme to win the affections of a boy she had a crush on,” according to reporter Blake Neff (4).
Columnist Mollie Hemingway noted that the “rape culture craze has led to attacks on the civil liberties of men and created a panic built on emotion more than reality,” Hemingway lamented that as a result of the UVA events, “Actual victims of rape will suffer and not be believed” (5).
Commentator Robby Soave concluded, “If we’re going to make college a safer environment—for both victims of sexual assault, and the wrongfully accused and maligned—the truth has got to matter more than the story” (6).
SAVE has developed a model bill titled the Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act. CEFTA mandates a series of due process protections for the accused and encourages the involvement of local criminal justice authorities in campus sexual assault cases (7).
SAVE is working for practical and effective solutions to campus sexual assault: www.saveservices.org