Police said Monday that they’ve been unable to confirm that an alleged gang rape occurred at a University of Virginia fraternity house as described in a Rolling Stone article, and the school announced that it reinstated the group and its activities.
U.Va. said in a statement that the decision to reinstate Phi Kappa Psi was made after consulting with the Charlottesville Police Department. The Rolling Stone article described in graphic detail an alleged gang rape of a student at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012.
“The statement reads that we did not find any substantive basis to confirm the allegations occurred at Phi Kappa Psi, not that we said the assault did not occur. We are still investigating,” Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants said in an email to The Associated Press.
After the article was published in November, the magazine issued a statement noting discrepancies in the story and apologizing.
Still, campus and fraternity leaders were put under pressure to adopt reforms, and police launched an investigation into the alleged assault at the request of the university. Pleasants said university officials were not presented a written report but were updated on the investigation via a telephone call.
“We just didn’t find any reasons to keep sanctions on that particular fraternity right now,” Pleasants told the AP in a telephone interview.
The school temporarily suspended fraternities’ and sororities’ social activities while administrators vowed to take an extensive look at improving safety on campus.
Phi Kappa Psi was the first fraternity to agree to new rules, some of which address alcohol distribution at parties. Officials want to make it less likely for drugs to be slipped into drinks.
“We believe that in the midst of this ordeal, there is an opportunity to move forward with important safety improvements. This has prompted us to take a closer look at ourselves and what role organizations like ours may play in this problem. It’s opened all of our eyes to the problem of sexual assault,” Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, said in a statement issued by the university. “Now it’s time to do something about it. As a fraternity, we are going to continue discussing that need in the coming weeks.”
The spring semester at U.Va. started Monday. The spring recruitment period for new fraternity members known as rush begins Thursday. Other fraternities have a Friday deadline to sign new agreements with the university that were developed by the school’s Inter-Fraternity Council that are aimed at keeping students at parties safer.
Among them: Kegs of beer and pre-made mixes of liquor and punch will be banned; beer must be served in closed cans, and food and water must be made available.
Brock Vergakis can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis
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