CNN Panelist: Suggestion That 'Jackie' Made Up UVa. Rape Story 'Flies in the Face of Statistics'

March 24th, 2015 11:13 AM

On CNN yesterday, after the network cut away from the press conference where Charlottesville, Virginia Police Department announced that it "found no evidence to support claims in a Rolling Stone article that a University of Virginia student was gang raped at a campus fraternity in September 2012," network panelist and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin bizarrely resorted to "statistics" to defend "Jackie," the student-fabulist involved.

The panel discussion which followed the press conference seemed to be all about telling viewers that "Despite what everyone says, it's really not over." Hostin's major contribution to that meme was to essentially contend that because "only about 2 percent of rapes that are reported are false," any allegation that "Jackie" was making things up is unfair and likely incorrect because it "flies in the face of statistics" — even though, in a new development, we learned that "Jackie" claimed that she was the victim of a second gang-rape incident in April 2014. Police also could find no evidence supporting that incident's occurrence. Video and a transcript follow the jump:

Later in the video, Hostin also to made the argument that police, and not the universities, should be involved in and take over these cases — a stance which flies in the face of those who want to set up due process-free exercises against alleged rapists and keep them within universities' confines. Fellow panel member and CNN correspondent Sara Ganim made it clear that others do not agree with Hostin's take:

Transcript (HT Hot Air; CNN transcript files are here and here; bolds and numbered tags are mine):

(second transcript file)

BROOKE BALDWIN: OK, let's pull away from this.

You've been listening for the last almost half hour here to the police chief there in Charlottesville, Virginia, Tim Longo, really detailing, and I know it's a lot of names and a lot of stories so let me just try to streamline this for.

But, again, this is all because of that "Rolling Stone" article about this really, really horrendous detailed alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. This came out last November. It sparked all kinds of conversations about issues of sex assault and rape on college campuses nationwide. The fraternity that was involved allegedly in this article, they were, you know, suspended for a finite period of time. There were complaints that the University of Virginia did not react appropriately and strongly enough.

In time, portions of the story became questioned, discrepancies, inconsistencies, questions for the writer of this "Rolling Stone" article. Finally, "Rolling Stone" admitting they didn't get the other side of the story because they were worried about retribution on this young alleged victim. And now there is a huge review. You've just heard from the police department. [1]

And as I'm talking about this, let me bring in Sara Ganim, who's been all over this, a correspondent here sitting next to me on set, and Sunny Hostin, to talk through the potential legalities of all of this.

We heard a lot but the bottom line is that this young woman, who we called, because "Rolling Stone" called her Jackie, when they investigated this alleged gang rape, and it sounds like another physical assault she had reported near the University of Virginia, none of the stories added up. There is no evidence. And they're careful not to say they're not closing the case, they're suspending the case. [2] She could have been sexually assaulted. He's careful to use those words. But so far no evidence, correct?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the consistent theme here I think is something -- going back to when this article -- shortly after this article was first published. Even her friends came out and said her story has changed a lot over time. And you heard Chief Longo talk about inconsistencies. Not just in the rape that she reported, but now we're learning something new today, which is, this second physical assault by four men that she says happened to her also on campus in April of 2014 and again he said that they just couldn't corroborate her story. There were too many inconsistencies. [3]

Now, I think that what the other side of this, Brooke, is that rape victims often do change their stories. They often remember things over time. Advocates have told me this is very common. This isn't something that automatically shows that you're lying. And so I think that's why you heard Chief Longo say they're going to keep this case open. The key here being that she's not cooperating --

BALDWIN: That was -- and that was my question to you.

GANIM: Hoping that she'll cooperate and they can move forward.

BALDWIN: And let's -- let's just -- you know, rape and sex assault is -- that is a problem on college campuses nationwide. I just want to italicize that, bold that for everyone right now. [4] But in this conversation, my question to you would be, if she finally shows up at the Charlottesville Police Department, this young woman who's had allegedly these horrendous, horrendous things happen to her, she's there with the dean of the student, she's there with a lawyer, she doesn't want to give a statement, she never gives a statement. Initially she didn't even want to go into any sort of criminal justice system, didn't want to deal with it. My question to you would be, why?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, and I want to be very careful here.

BALDWIN: We have to be very careful.

HOSTIN: We have to be very careful here. I want to be very careful because it is not unusual for a sexual assault victim to pull out of the criminal process, to recant, because of a lot of reasons. Sometimes they can't deal with the probing that occurs. They don't want to submit to a rape kit. They're embarrassed. They know that they will be scrutinized quite frankly. And so that in and of itself, as Sara said, doesn't make this young woman a liar.


HOSTIN: But -- and I think if you look at the statistics, and some of these statistics of false reports of rape are a bit squishy. But if you look at the FBI statistics, only about 2 percent of rapes that are reported are false. And only about 40 percent of rapes that occur are even reported. And so the suggestion that she just sort of made this entire thing up flies in the face of statistics. [5] Women generally do not falsely report rape.

That being said, I think it's pretty clear that, one, she is not cooperated, sort of withdrew from the system. And I think it's also very clear from this chief's comment that it appears that so much time was lost after this alleged rape that the police could not corroborate what happened.


HOSTIN: And that really is the bigger issue here.


HOSTIN: Because rape victims are reluctant to cooperate with police and report these things, schools, college campuses, should not be taking the lead when it comes to sexual assault. Once someone on a college campus, an administrator, sort of gets this kind of report, my sense is, Brooke, and, Sara, I want to know what you think, that the university should immediately bring the police into it. [6]

GANIM: It's part of a larger issues --

BALDWIN: And that was the point, right.

GANIM: That people are talking about and it's two-fold. At UVA specifically, I've talked to advocates there in, you know, in the wake of this scandal have said, that is scary to them because women may not come forward. That statistic that you just mentioned of the amount of women who don't ever report could actually rise if they know they absolutely have to go through the criminal process every time they talk to someone about a rape. [7]

HOSTIN: Yes, that's the chilling effect. GANIM: That's the chilling effect.

HOSTIN: That's true.

(second transcript file)

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That statistic that you just mentioned of the amount of women who don't ever report could actually rise if they know they absolutely have to go through the criminal process every time they talk to someone about a rape. [7]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: That's the chilling effect.

GANIM: But this is only one part of three investigations into this "Rolling Stone" piece that are coming out today. And there is an investigation by the state of Virginia that will look into how the university handled this. Because it's not just that Jackie went forward to the school. Then she began talking with her alleged rape publicly. And a lot of people on that campus knew what she was alleging for months and months and months and it wasn't reported to police until it became a national story. So the investigation, the state investigation, is did they handle her story properly and did they also handle a lot of other reports of sexual assault properly.

BALDWIN: Rosa Flores was there.

You threw in a question for the chief yourself. I don't know how long you've even been in Charlottesville to talk to some of the students there on grounds. What was your takeaway today?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I have talked to some folks here on campus including some of the student leaders who are on the forefront on the fight who really fight for survivors of rape. And they told me one thing and I think this is very important to just bring home. And they said regardless of the outcome of this investigation, they have seen a change at the university and that's important they say because before this, no one talked about sexual assault. It didn't have the importance, if you will, headlines of people just talking about this. She said, regardless of what happens, there is a conversation, people are talking about it, and there is awareness of what is going on. [8]

BALDWIN: And let me mark this also saying the Journalism School at Columbia University here in New York, they're also reviewing all this and I believe the result of their review will be in next month's edition of "Rolling Stone."

Rosa Flores, thank you.

Sara Ganim, Sunny Hostin, thank you so much.


[1] — Baldwin is playing stall-ball here, and can't seem to want to admit that there was no evidence found. It isn't that "portions" of "Jackie's story are being questioned. It's pretty much settled science, if you will, that she fabricated the entire thing. Recall that, once the identity of the leader of group which allegedly gang-raped her became known, the Washington Post found "that not only isn’t this guy a member of the fraternity in question, he had never met Jackie."

[2] — Ah, finally. "There is no evidence."

[3] — I wonder if Rolling Stone knew anything about this second alleged gang-rape? Or did "Jackie" bring it up after Rolling Stone published their piece in a vain attempt to bolster the credibility of her first allegation?

[4] — Memo to Brooke Baldwin: Sexual assault is less of a problem on college campuses than it is in the rest of the nation. in other words, a university-related "crisis doesn’t exist."

[5] — So, since a low portion of rape reports is false, we still need to believe "Jackie." Never mind that the cops have found no evidence to support two of her stories. Thanks, Sunny. Great legal analysis there. (/sarcasm) Imagine a defense lawyer claiming that "My client couldn't have committed this crime because 98 percent of Americans aren't criminals."

[6] — Hostin is correct. Rape is a crime. The cops and the justice system are supposed to handle it. If you're a rape victim and want your attacker prosecuted, you have to report the crime. No one said it would be easy, but it's a necesary condition for justice to occur.

[7] (tagged twice) — But that's not satisfactory for those who want to establish their own kangaroo-court "justice" systems on campus.

[8] — Here we go. It's the "some good came out of all of this anyway" argument. Any alleged "benefits" from increased "awareness" have been far outweighed by the likelihood that real rape victims will be less likely to come forward because of "Jackie's" made-up stories.

The only real potential benefit here may be that universities will think twice before establishing their own extra-legal rape panels. I sure hope they do.

Cross-posted at