I have no particular axe to grind with fraternities, although I do think they play a regrettable and occasionally dangerous role as alcohol distributors to the under-21 crowd, courtesy of the federal drinking age. And I don’t believe sexual assault is as grave a problem at college campuses as many activists have made it out to be—if the 1-in-4 statistic were anywhere close to accurate, it would be a baffling outlier in a sea of falling rape rates.
So when I say that I was initially inclined to believe the story, it’s not because I wanted or needed it to be true to fit my worldview. Rather, I assumed honesty on the part of the author and her source—not because I’m naive, but because I didn’t think someone would lie about such an unbelievable story. This isn’t a case of he-said / she-said; this is an extraordinary crime that indicts a dozen people and an entire university administration. Assuming a proper investigation—which the police are now conducting—confirming many of the specific details should be relatively easy. If “Jackie” is lying, there is a good chance she will be caught (and Erdely’s career ruined). So I believed it.
However, some of the details do strike me as perplexing on subsequent re-reads. One issue now being raised by skeptics is the nature of her injuries, which sound as if they would have required immediate medical attention. (According to the story, everybody involved was basically rolling around in broken glass for hours.) If the frat brothers were absolute sociopaths to do this to Jackie, her friends were almost cartoonishly evil—casually dismissing her battered and bloodied state and urging her not to go to the hospital.