Police Suspends Investigation in UVA Rape Case
The Charlottesville Police Department said on Monday that it was suspending its investigation into the rape allegations depicted in the November Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” until the emergence of any new evidence.
“Having exhausted all investigative leads, our investigation concludes that there is no substantive basis to support the account alleged in the Rolling Stone article,” the police department said in a report of its findings. “Therefore, our investigation will remain suspended until such time as ‘Jackie’ wishes to cooperate with investigators or other evidence comes to our attention to warrant further investigation.”
“Jackie,” the pseudonym of a student at the University of Virginia, alleges in the Rolling Stone story that she was gang-raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on Sep. 28, 2012, after she was invited to a party there by a man identified as “Drew” in the story.
Jackie’s friends told investigators that Jackie had told them that her date on Sep. 28 was a student called Haven Monahan, whom investigators have have failed to locate. Jackie has refused to be interviewed by the investigators, and federal privacy laws have impeded their efforts to access records that may be relevant to the investigation.
“I can’t prove that something didn’t happen and there may come a point in time in which this survivor, or this complaining party, or someone else may come forward with some information that might help us move this investigation further,” Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo said on Monday.
The police department had already cleared the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity of any wrongdoing in January, and used Monday’s press conference mainly to provide an update of the investigation, which included 70 interviews with those involved in the story, to the general public.
The investigators were able to interview UVA Dean Nicole Eramo, to whom Jackie had been referred in May of 2013 because of her poor grades. Jackie told Eramo that she had been sexually assaulted after going to a party at an “unknown fraternity” house on Madison Lane. However, Jackie’s description of her sexual assault to Eramo did not match the story of her rape in the Rolling Stone story, the police report states.
At a press conference on Monday, police chief Longo refused to describe the sexual assault that Jackie had told Eramo but assured reporters that they were different from the episode told in the Rolling Stone story.
“I won’t go into detail what the sexual act that was disclosed [to Eramo] was. I think that would be inappropriate,” Longo said. “I will tell you that it’s wholly inconsistent with the sexual act that is described in that article.”
In the original Rolling Stone report, an acutely challenged detail was that the gang-rape allegedly took place in the dark over a bed of glass shards from a broken table. In the police report, investigators also document a previous instance where Jackie alleges to have suffered injury from glass shards.
On April 21, 2014, Jackie again went to Dean Eramo about an alleged attack earlier that month in which she was struck in the face by a glass bottle, and had to have a nursing student remove glass shards from her face.
Investigators were able to later interview the nursing student, who said that she never removed glass from Jackie’s face, and that the injury resembled “an abrasion consistent with having fallen.”
In the same April meeting, Jackie told Eramo for the first time that the alleged rape occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house, according to Charlottesville police investigation. The day after her meeting with Eramo, Jackie spoke to a police officer, and stated that she had been verbally abused by four men while on campus earlier that month, and had her face struck by an unknown object wielded by one of them.
The officer did not see any wounds on Jackie’s face in their meeting, but Jackie provided a picture which purportedly documented the injury that had taken place on the week of April 11.
“The injury depicted in the photograph has the appearance of swelling above the right eye and an apparent abrasion on the upper cheek. In the opinion of the investigator, it did not appear consistent with being struck by a blunt object,’ the police report states.
In May of 2014, a police detective met with Jackie to discuss both the alleged physical assault in April of 2014 and the sexual assault in 2012. Jackie stated then that she did not want a police investigation of the physical assault, and did not disclose any information about the sexual assault.
The next time that Jackie met with anyone from the police department was on Dec. 2 of 2014, after the Rolling Stone story had be published and UVA president Teresa Sullivan had requested that the police department investigate the alleged rape. She was accompanied by legal counsel and refused to provide any statements or answer questions. Jackie has not met with or provided any information to the police department since then.
The Search for Haven Monahan
Investigators looked for Haven Monahan through a 2012 student listing for the University of Virginia, but could not find anyone with that name. Further searches on “LINX, TLO, Pinger, Twitter, Facebook, and Google” turned up nothing. Investigators found a photograph believed to portray Monahan, and was able to track down that person, whose name was neither Haven Monahan or Drew, and who stated that he doesn’t know Jackie.
The Rolling Stone story states that “Drew” worked as a lifeguard at the university pool, but a search through the employee roster at the University Aquatic and Fitness failed to identify anyone named named “Drew” or Haven Monahan, and supervisors at the facility denied knowing anyone with those names.
The only evidence of Monahan’s existence comes from emails sent to Jackie’s friend Ryan Duffin in the week after the alleged rape. Duffin received an email from [email protected] purportedly a copy of an email that Jackie had sent to Monahan, describing Jackie’s romantic crush on Duffin.
“Well yeah … Ryan is fine. Ryan’s great, actually. I mean he’s smart. He’s attractive,” reads the email sent on Oct. 3, the content of which is, apart from the changes names, is almost identical to a monologue from the TV show Dawson’s Creek where Dawson professes his love for Joey.
In September, Ryan had rejected Jackie’s romantic overtures, which she did not take well. “There was a lot of crying involved,” Ryan said. Some have suggested that the figure of Haven Monahan and the episode inside the fraternity house was a fiction created by Jackie to make Ryan jealous, but the police maintain that the investigation is ongoing.
“This case is not closed by any stretch of the imagination,” said police chief Longo.
The Fraternities at UVA
The Phi Kappa Psi chapter at UVA has welcomed the police department’s findings as a formal exoneration of the charges made against them, and is considering taking legal action against Rolling Stone for the damages that resulted in the aftermath of the report.
“These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault,” said Stephen Scipione, President of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi. “We hope that Rolling Stone’s actions do not discourage any survivors from coming forward to seek the justice they deserve.”
The Phi Kappa Psi chapter underwent a harrowing winter in the aftermath of the Rolling Stone report, which quickly went viral online and was read by millions. Students organized protests outside of the Phi Si house, which had its windows broken and exterior defaced by activists in acts of triumphant vandalism, and the chapter voluntarily suspended its charter as the investigation developed.
However, Phi Psi wasn’t the only fraternity affected by the Rolling Stone report. UVA president Teresa Sullivan suspended social activities in all fraternities on campus in the week after the report was published, which lasted more than a month until it was lifted on Jan. 5. After the police cleared Phi Psi, the fraternity reinstated its charter a week later.
“I would also like to thank the individuals who cooperated with the police investigation,” Sullivan said a statement on Monday. “There is important work ahead as the University continues to implement substantive reforms to improve its culture, prevent violence and respond to incidents of violence when they occur.”