Everybody heard about the sickening Rolling Stone story titled “A Rape On Campus” that appeared last month. The story of the gang rape of a young woman named Jackie shook the walls at the University of Virginia and ran smack into a “rape culture” conversation that was already fulminating with myriad allegations arriving daily against comedian Bill Cosby. Today Rolling Stone in a note to readers said it didn’t check its facts. It’s a particularly horrible admission, because such flagrant irresponsibility further poisons an already polluted environment where victim suspicion allows too many legitimate rape claims to be deemed dubious.
Incredibly, Rolling Stone says: “Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her.” Further the magazine says: “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.” Finally Rolling Stone says it “apologizes to anyone affected by the story.” That means millions of college age people, students, parents sending young men and women to college, parents of current college students everywhere, for starters. They were all affected. But the biggest apology is owed to the next woman who reports a real rape and who isn’t believed, because Rolling Stone cast this very very wide shadow of a doubt.