With the controversy pot boiling over about the Rolling Stone article that alleged a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, everyone is looking to the Charlottesville Police to make a determination about what actually did or did not happen. It appears that this might not be forthcoming. They are being rather equivocal about how they see the nature of their involvement in the matter.
No Formal Police Investigation Yet in UVA Rape Case
While questions mount regarding the credibility of an account of an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity, police have yet to open a formal investigation.
University officials have said — as recently as Dec. 2 — that they have been instructed by police not to discuss the specific incident because it is the subject of a police inquiry. But TIME has learned that so far, that inquiry has not crossed the threshold for the Charlottesville Police Department to treat it as a criminal investigation. Because the alleged incident took place at a fraternity house off campus, it falls under the jurisdiction of municipal law enforcement rather than the university’s own campus police.
Police had previously confirmed that UVA president Teresa Sullivan had contacted the department to request a criminal investigation and said they were reviewing a published account of the alleged incident. But police have not yet accumulated enough information to take the matter beyond an inquiry and open a formal investigation.
Asked by TIME for a response, Charlottesville Police spokesman Captain Gary Pleasants said he could not confirm that a formal investigation was under way and reiterated a previous statement that the department was “evaluating the next steps.” He added, “In most cases, a formal investigation would be launched when a victim of a crime or witness to that crime makes a report to the police.”
A central problem about this entire situation is that Jackie who told the story to reporter Sabrina Ederley has never made a complaint to the police or to university administration. Supposedly these parties only learned about it when the story was published by Rolling Stone. The magazine is now saying that they "lack confidence" in the story. This could certainly provide what sounds like an already reluctant police department a good excuse to dodge what will inevitably be a very controversial matter.