The chairman of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, which has vowed changes in the way the university handles sexual assault, on Friday blasted Rolling Stone for an article on a purported campus rape that has since been called into doubt.
"Like a neighborhood thrown into chaos by drive-by violence, our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century," Rector George K. Martin said before the board’s first meeting since Rolling Stone acknowledged problems with the article, in which a student claimed she was gang-raped at a frat house. Martin said the article hurt innocent people and damaged the school's reputation.
The board appointed an independent investigator to look into the claims made in the article, and about the school’s response to sexual assault in general, and has stood by those commitments. Martin said "inconsistent laws and enforcement practices" make "it nearly impossible for America’s universities to address these matters intelligently." Police reports show that sexual offenses on and off campus more than doubled between 2012 and 2013, but Martin noted that "many incidents go unreported."
"The truth is, we do not know how common sexual assault is on the campuses of this country, including our own. But we know that it exists," Martin said.
UVA president Teresa Sullivan said that students returning from the holiday break would see increased security on campus and more counselors to work with sexual assault victims.
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— Katie Wall and Elisha Fieldstadt