In the horrific tale of a 2012 gang rape at UVA in Rolling Stone last month, aside from the alleged rapists, probably no one came off worse than the three callous friends of Jackie, who urged her not to report the alleged sexual assault and warned her it could affect her social status. Those friends have now come forward and told The Washington Post, ABC News and the Associated Press that it didn’t happen that way, raising further doubts about the credibility of Jackie’s story.
Identified in Rolling Stone as Randall, Andy and Cindy, the three spoke to T. Rees Shapiro at the Post on the condition the same pseudonyms be used. They’ve since spoken on the record using their real names—Ryan Duffin, Alex Stock and Kathryn Hendley—and say their response to Jackie’s gang rape described in Rolling Stone “absolutely never happened,” according to Duffin.
“I couldn’t help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect,” Duffin said in an AP interview.
The friends say they had some doubts early on about the date who allegedly took her to a fraternity that night and who turned up after she’d expressed romantic feelings for Duffin, who wanted to remain friends. She said the date was a junior in her chemistry class—in Rolling Stone she said he worked with her at a university pool—and while Duffin texted and exchanged e-mails with the date, identified as “Drew” in the Rolling Stone article, they could find no one by his name who attended the University.
According to the Post, she showed the friends a photo that turned out to be a classmate from her Northern Virginia high school. The Post contacted the man, who attends college in a different state. He said he barely knows Jackie and hasn’t been in Charlottesville in six years.
Duffin told ABC News that Jackie called him that night, and was sitting at a picnic table outside a dorm, “crying and shaking.” She told him, Stock, and later Hendley that she’d been taken to a fraternity and forced to perform oral sex on five men, while another looked on. All three friends urged her to go to police, they said, and she refused. And unlike the story she told Rolling Stone, the friends said they saw no blood or signs that she’d been beaten.
Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Erdely did not attempt to interview them before the story was published, the three said, but wrote in the article that Randall refused to talk because of loyalty to his fraternity. Duffin said he was never contacted by Erdely and would have agreed to be interviewed. The friends told reporters Erdely has since contacted them and is re-reporting the story.
In the wake of the friends’ revelations, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society attorney Palma Pustilnik issued a statement December 10 saying that she was representing Jackie and asked the media to stop contacting Jackie and her family. Pustilnik also warned that “threats and attempts to extort and/or intimidate have been and will continue to be reported to the appropriate authorities.”
“Do I think she was raped?” said Stock. “Maybe.”
Said Duffin to the Post, “The veracity of the account in the article doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I want more emphasis being placed on making people aware of how to spot the warning signs of sexual assault and help survivors if they confide in you. Regardless of the truth of what this individual story is, it’s still a problem the world over.”
Updated and edited December 16. A shorter version of this story appears in the December 17 print issue of C-VILLE.