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UVa fraternity chapter to sue Rolling Stone

Phi Kappa Psi said the article resulted in vandalism of the frat house, members being ostracized

The University of Virginia fraternity chapter at the center of a now discredited Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape says the story was defamatory and reckless and it is pursuing legal action against the magazine.

Phi Kappa Psi said Monday in a statement that the widely read article led to vandalism of the fraternity house and its members being ostracized.

The fraternity's statement came after the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism released a report Sunday night that said the magazine's shortcomings "encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking."

The article, written by contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely and published in November, said a woman pseudonymously identified only as Jackie, a first-year student, was gang-raped at the fraternity house in 2012. It also accused the university of tolerating a culture that ignored sexual violence against women.

Police say there is no evidence the attack took place.

In December, after coming under a barrage of questions about the story's veracity, Rolling Stone apologized for "discrepancies" in the account and admitted that it never sought comment from the seven men accused of the rape.

"Rolling Stone's repudiation of the main narrative in 'A Rape on Campus' is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable," the Columbia team wrote in the report, which the magazine requested and published on its website. Steve Coll, the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, led the review.

In an editor's note on Rolling Stone’s website above the report, the magazine's managing editor, Will Dana, said Rolling Stone was officially retracting the article and apologized "to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout."

"It is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward," he wrote, "and it saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings."

The magazine's founding editor, Jann Wenner, said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday that the botched story was an isolated episode and that Erdely would continue to write for the magazine. He also said neither Dana nor Sean Woods, who edited the article, would lose their jobs.

While Dana said in his note that Rolling Stone would commit itself to following "a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report," the report said, "Rolling Stone's senior editors are unanimous in the belief that the story's failure does not require them to change their editorial systems."

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