- Three friends of the alleged victim of a gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house don't see things the way
The friends told the Associated Press that the article used the attack to paint a picture of a culture of sexual violence on college campuses. They also contend that the article was wrong on a number of key points, notably that they didn't encourage the young woman to report the attack and that they were more concerned about their reputations than her well-being.
One of the friends, a third-year student referred to as "Randall" in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off, saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and sleep.
"I couldn't help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect," said Duffin, 20.
The article set off an intense debate about sexual violence, alcohol, fraternities and journalistic integrity.
The Associated Press also spoke with two other friends portrayed in the article: third-year students Kathryn Hendley and Alex Stock, known as "Cindy" and "Andy" in the article. None of the three friends was contacted by Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely before the article was published. Each rejected multiple assertions made in the article, which has since been retracted.
All three say Erdely has since reached out to them, and Hendley told AP that Erdely apologized to her for portraying her the way she did.
The three friends say they will continue working to correct the record about what happened that night. Duffin said he wonders to what extent he believes the victim's own version of what happened - or whether any discrepancies in her story matter.
"People at U.Va. want answers just as much as I do," Duffin says. "But if anything, the takeaway from all this is that I still don't really care if what's presented in this article is true or not because I think it's far more important that people focus on the issue of sexual assault as a whole."
Other news outlets have also interviewed the friends, but this is the first time that Duffin has allowed his full name to be used.
A lawyer representing the victim, who has been identified only as "Jackie," has declined several requests by the AP to interview Jackie and did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article. The AP does not typically name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The article has roiled the campus and caused a huge backlash, with the school suspending fraternity activities until next month, and the Board of Visitors appointing an independent investigator to look into the allegations and the handling of the case.