By Elaine Magliaro
UPDATE: Rolling Stone has posted a note to its readers about Sabrina Erdely’s article A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Click here to read the letter.
Sabrina Rubin Erdely has an excellent article over at Rolling Stone titled A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. The article tells the story of an eighteen-year-old student named Jackie who was just beginning her freshman year at the University of Virginia “when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party.” Erdely says that when Jackie tried to hold the men accountable a “whole new kind of abuse began.” Jackie’s story illuminates why so many sexual assault victims are discouraged from and reticent about speaking
Victims say UVA covering up rape claims
Excerpt from Erdely’s Rolling Stone article:
“Shut up,” she heard a man’s voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn’t some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they’d return to the party.
“Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.
Paul Farhi wrote about Erdely and her Rolling Stone article in The Washington Post yesterday:
The gruesome details of the alleged assault and the hard-drinking atmosphere surrounding it were harrowing enough. But the story also focused on what happened to Jackie after she told friends and campus officials that she had been brutalized. Erdely recounted a virtually systemic whitewashing of Jackie’s allegations, from peers who counseled her to remain silent to an indifferent and conflicted school administration, caught between adjudicating a serious crime and protecting the university’s platinum reputation.
Farhi said that one “remarkable” thing about Erdely’s article is that no one had reported about what had happened to the young woman at the frat party before–even though a few dozen people “in and around U-Va. were aware of Jackie’s story — friends, family, administrators and the small circle of people associated with One Less, the campus sexual assault awareness organization that Jackie had joined.” Still, Jackie’s story remained untold for more than two years.
Erdely spoke with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour recently. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY:
…When I first encountered Jackie, I was absolutely shocked by her story. She went to the administration and told them that she had been gang-raped at a fraternity house by seven men while two others watched. And the administration did nothing about it.
And even though a year later, she actually came to the administration again and told them that she had heard of two other women who had come to her telling them that they, too, had been gang-raped at the same fraternity, the administration also chose to do nothing about that.
So that was incredibly shocking to me, that the administration would decide not just to do nothing in her case, but nothing to warn the campus at large that there was a fraternity that was having parties and holding fraternity rush and so forth that had had numerous now allegations against it for gang rape. But nobody was ever warned.
Judy Woodruff’s Interview with Sabrina Rubin Erdely:
Sabrina Rubin Erdely on Morning Joe:
UVA Fraternities suspended because of alleged sex crimes on campus
Click here to read Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Rolling Stone article.