Like I said on Monday, there are two theories of what happened. Theory A: She made up the whole thing, soup to nuts. Theory B: Something did happen to her, just not what Rolling Stone reported. Somehow, whether due to post-traumatic stress or embellishments offered by Jackie herself or teased out of her by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the actual facts transformed over time into a far-fetched but harrowing account of ritual gang rape on a broken glass table at Phi Kappa Psi, led by a mysterious student lifeguard named “Drew.” The best evidence for Theory B was that her own friends believed her. Her behavior did change dramatically in fall 2012, they said. As one of them told WaPo in tonight’s bombshell, “If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
Is there any way, though, to square Theory A with her apparent distress that night? Maybe. There are too many twists to excerpt all of them here, so read it for yourself. The nutshell version: Jackie told her friends that she was being pursued by a mysterious yet handsome upperclassman in her chemistry class, a guy whom none of them had met but with whom they had exchanged a few e-mails to tease out his interest in Jackie. Oddly enough, the mystery man felt obliged to tell them that he was jealous because he was convinced Jackie wasn’t interested in him but in a fellow “first year.” She accepted his invitation anyway to go to dinner on September 28, 2012.
Curious about Jackie’s date, the friends said that they failed to locate the student on a U-Va. database and social media. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said they never met the student in person. Before Jackie’s date, the friends said that they became suspicious that perhaps they hadn’t really been in contact with the chemistry student at all.
U-Va. officials told The Post that no student by the name Jackie provided to her friends as her date and attacker in 2012 had ever enrolled at the university. Randall provided The Post with pictures that Jackie’s purported date had sent of himself by text message in 2012.
The Post identified the person in the pictures and learned that his name does not match the one Jackie provided to friends in 2012. In an interview, the man said that he was Jackie’s high school classmate but that he “never really spoke to her.”…
After the alleged attack, the man who Jackie said had taken her on the date wrote an e-mail to Randall, passing along praise that Jackie apparently had for him.
Randall said that it is apparent to him that he is the “first year,” the chemistry student described in text messages, since he had rebuffed Jackie’s advances.
Clearly, WaPo thinks Jackie made up the story of the mystery man to try to make Randall jealous, and when it didn’t work, she allegedly made up the story of the rape to gain his sympathy. Randall was, in fact, one of the three students whom she called on the night of the alleged rape to comfort her. In fact, the name of the mystery man that she gave to Randall and other friends in late 2012 didn’t match the name that she gave to other friends more recently about who supposedly attacked her that night. “Drew,” the man named in the Rolling Stone piece, did work as a lifeguard but insists he never met her and isn’t a member of Phi Kappa Psi. If all of that is true, it means she falsely accused not one but two innocent men of being ringleaders for a gang rape.
And why didn’t ace reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely and the crack Rolling Stone fact-checking team find this out? Easy, silly: According to all three of the friends who comforted Jackie on the night of her “rape,” including Randall, Erdely never contacted them. She evidently preferred to smear them by taking Jackie’s word for it that they were callous to her, worried more about their own access to future frat parties than having Jackie go to the police. (In hindsight, you wonder if that portrayal of Randall wasn’t Jackie’s revenge on him for rejecting her.) Brace yourself for this:
The Rolling Stone article also said that Randall declined to be interviewed, “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” He told The Post that he never was contacted by Rolling Stone and would have agreed to an interview.
How did Erdely end up under the impression that Randall “declined” to be interviewed if, as he says, she never approached him? And why didn’t she approach him? Rolling Stone’s excuse for not contacting “Drew” for his side of the story was that rape victims often insist that reporters not approach their attackers for fear of reprisal. But what’s the excuse for not contacting Randall and the other two friends?
Two remaining points here. One: Trust no Penn graduates from the class of 1994. Two: Remembering Jackie’s distress on the night of September 28, 2012, Randall tells WaPo, “She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma… I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again.” Does he think that something did happen to her, somewhere at the hands of someone, or does he mean to imply that she’s disturbed enough to have worked herself into a believable frenzy to try to get his attention? I don’t know what to make of that and the “Oscar” line mentioned above.