Friends’ Accounts Differ Significantly From Victim in Rolling Stone’s UVa. Rape Story
On a fall night two years ago, Jackie, the alleged victim of a brutal gang rape, recounted her story in vivid detail to two friends. She recalled the assault for Ryan Duffin and Alex Stock on picnic tables at the quaint University of Virginia campus.
“Her lips were quivering and (she) looked like somebody who had just been through some really traumatic experience,” said Duffin, who met Jackie through a mutual friend at orientation. “I’ve never seen anyone look like that before. I really hope I never have to see anyone look like that again.”
They sat outside a freshman dorm as she told of the shocking sexual assault, according to the friends. This was long before her account of the attack appeared in a now infamous Rolling Stone article published on November 19.
That harrowing account described how Jackie was lured to a fraternity house and allegedly raped by seven men at a Phi Kappa Psi party. The article sparked international outrage and portrayed the University of Virginia’s response as cold and even tolerant of such horrific behavior.
Several weeks later, the magazine published an apology that raised questions about the authenticity of the story.
Duffin and Stock told CNN they remember a starkly different account than what appeared in Rolling Stone. Their version cast doubt over whether the man who allegedly orchestrated the attack even existed.
“I mean there are definitely some major holes in the story,” said Stock, who also met Jackie through a mutual friend at summer orientation. “I think that that was pretty clear in the Rolling Stone piece… It was almost too perfect of a story.”
Jackie’s lawyer declined to comment to CNN for this article.
In its apology, Rolling Stone said of Jackie, “Our trust in her was misplaced.” The magazine later removed those words in an updated statement and said of its reporting errors, “These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.”
The magazine admitted that its writer had not contacted the man who allegedly brought about the attack. It said the writer didn’t contact any of the men that Jackie claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation.
Duffin and Stock said they were never contacted by the magazine; instead, the writer portrayed them through Jackie’s eyes.
“Rolling Stone is conducting a thorough internal review of the reporting, editing, and fact-checking of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s ‘A Rape on Campus,” the magazine said in a statement Tuesday.
If Jackie, who supposedly had a crush on Duffin, was indeed raped by the man her friends say went on a date with Jackie on the night of September 28, 2012, his behavior was more brazen that originally thought. CNN has obtained text messages and an email from the man who Jackie said lured her to the frat house, including one sent to Duffin days after the alleged assault.
Was Haven Monahan a real person?
Since summer orientation in 2012, Stock, Duffin and another freshman, Kathryn Hendley, had become friends with Jackie.
Duffin said Jackie was much more interested in him than he in her. He said he was happy when Jackie told friends that an upperclassman in her chemistry class asked her on a date.
Duffin and Stock decided to learn more about the upperclassman and check to “see if he’s OK,” Duffin said. Jackie gave them the phone number for the man, whom she identified as Haven Monahan.
Stock and Duffin said they sent him text messages and pretended to be another student from chemistry class. Monahan purportedly texted back, saying of Jackie, “I really like her,” and describing her as “super smart .. hot” and liking the same music as he. At one point, he even sent a photo of himself.
Duffin never suspected Monahan may not be a real person.
“No,” Duffin said, “at the time, it all seemed very real.”
Jackie said she went on a date with Monahan the evening in late September 2012, when Rolling Stone reported that she was raped.
Late that night, Jackie called Duffin.
“She just said something bad had happened and could I come meet her,” he recalled.
Duffin and Stock met her outside the first-year dorms. They sat at the picnic tables.
“It looked like she had been crying,” Duffin remembered. “She was shaking… obviously just scared about something. And it looked like she thought somebody might just pop out of the dark and just grab her or something.”
Jackie told her two friends that her date parked in front of the fraternity house, Duffin said. The man told her he had to go up to his room and asked whether she wanted to join him. She went with him.
“She then said that when she went into the house and went up the stairs, her date locked the door of the room once they got in there,” Duffin said. “And she said that there were five other men in the room who she was then forced to perform oral sex on.”
Stock said she was very upset.
Friends saw inconsistencies in story
“I didn’t have any doubts that what she said happened had happened,” he said.
But details of the assault chronicled in Rolling Stone didn’t match what Jackie told her friends, the two men said.
In the article, for instance, she graphically describes a brutal gang rape by seven men instead of five. Oral sex was not mentioned. The article described her date as a man named “Drew” who she met “while working lifeguard shifts together at the university pool.” In 2012, she told her friends his name was “Haven” and they had met in chemistry class.
The inconsistencies did not end there, according to Duffin and Stock.
The article described how she was beaten, struck about the face and left barefoot and bloodied. That’s not what her friends remember.
“I didn’t notice any sort of physical injuries,” Duffin said. “I didn’t notice a lack of shoes. I really didn’t notice anything that was consistent with the physical description that was in the article.”
Said Stock, “If there had been major injuries the way the article portrays, I think I would have remembered that.”
A major criticism of the Rolling Stone article, titled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Search for Justice at UVA,” was that the reporter did not seek comment from the alleged attackers. Discrepancies in the account were later reported by The Washington Post and other news outlets.
For instance, Phi Kappa Psi did not have a party the night Jackie said the rape occurred; the man she identified as her date that night was not a member of that fraternity.
Perhaps the biggest discrepancy was the Rolling Stone article’s portrayal of how her friends reacted to news of the sexual assault: “The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress.”
The article quoted Cindy, whose was actually Hendley, saying: “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years.”
Duffin and Stock said that Hendley wasn’t even part of the conversation. Jackie didn’t want the female friend to hear what happened. Kathryn waited about 25 feet away from the picnic table as Jackie spoke with her two male friends.
“That conversation never happened,” said Duffin. “That whole entire conversation about debating the social price of reporting a rape, and any sort of detriment to a reputation that might come around from reporting a rape, absolutely never happened.”
Hendley told CNN she was not part of the initial conversation.
“The things she said about me were completely off,” Hendley said of Jackie. “It was a powerful part of the story, but it wasn’t true.”
They say Jackie didn’t want to call police
The two friends said they tried desperately to convince Jackie to call the police. She decided against it, they said.
“I was really forceful in wanting to call the police,” Duffin said. “I brought up the point a few times. But the reason we didn’t call the police was because Jackie didn’t want to. She didn’t want to have to go through … constant interrogation by police officers which would cause her to continually relive this traumatic event.”
The two friends said they slept on the floor of Jackie’s dorm to help her get through the night.
Five days later, Duffin said he inexplicably received an email titled “About You” from Haven, the man allegedly behind the alleged sexual assault. (When CNN tried the email address, the message came back “undeliverable.”)
“It was from Haven Monahan … and it looked like Haven had written, ‘You should read this, I’ve never read anything nicer in my life,’ with a page worth — an essay — that Jackie had written about me,” Duffin said. “Which seemed really weird to me, even at the time, because here’s somebody who allegedly just led a brutal sexual assault on a friend of mine, and now he’s going to email me this thing about me?”
Jackie told her friends that Monahan dropped out of the university after the assault, but a university record check by CNN revealed that no one by that name ever attended the university. Another check found no one by that name in the United States.
The photo Monahan supposedly sent Duffin via text message matched that of a man who went to high school with Jackie in Stafford, Virginia.
“There’s a very good chance whoever I was texting was Jackie,” Stock said. “There’s a definite possibility.”
Jackie and her three friends drifted apart long before the Rolling Stone article, though her friends believe something bad may have happened to her that September night.
“I think it’s very possible, yeah,” Duffin said. “I still think it’s extremely, extremely possible. If only because the reaction she had on that night seemed so strong, and seemed so genuine, that I still think it’s difficult to believe that she would have been acting.”