Rolling Stone article highlights dangers of false allegations of rape

The famous magazine is accused of lacking journalistic integrity in a piece that alleges a student was the victim of a gang rape at a University fraternity.

Rolling Stone is facing criticism for lacking journalistic integrity. The criticism stems from a recent article claiming a young woman was the victim of a gang rape at a fraternity at the University of Virginia. The article goes on to accuse the University of having a "troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults."

Since its publication, the article has received scrutiny from a variety of reputable media sources including the Washington Post, Slate, The New Yorker and Bloomberg. These reports call the woman making the accusations within the article into question and find a large number of discrepancies in her account of the alleged assault.

Although all students should be safe from sexual assault while attending these institutions it is important to note that students should also be safe from false allegations of wrongdoing. One key lesson from this debacle, as noted in a recent article by Bloomberg, is the need for skepticism. It is important to maintain the principal of "innocent until proven guilty." Taking a story at face value without questioning its accuracy or gathering enough evidence to support the allegations is dangerous.

Virginia state law and sexual assault

Failing to take these precautions in allegations of rape is particularly dangerous, due to the severity of the penalties associated with this crime. Rape in Virginia is defined as sexual intercourse with another person against that person's will in the following instances:

  • Force. Use of physical force, threat or intimidation.
  • Vulnerability. Taking advantage of another's mental incapacity of physical helplessness.
  • Age. Intercourse with a child under the age of 13.

Penalties associated with this crime are severe and can include imprisonment from five years to life and registration as a sex offender. The severity of the sentence will depend on the details of the charges.

Impact of false allegations

Interestingly, the article from Rolling Stone has yet to be retracted. Instead the editors chose to include a forward with an apology for failing to diligently research the allegations. As a result, the impact of these potentially false allegations remains unclear.

Even though the impact of these allegations remains to be seen, those who face similar allegations likely suffer from professional and social stigma. As a result, those who are accused of these crimes should take the allegations seriously. Defending against these charges can be a complex and arduous process. An experienced sexual assault attorney can help build a strong defense and better ensure your rights are protected. At The Law Office of Louis K. Nagy, PLC, we have experience defending JMU students from criminal charges.

Keywords: criminal defense