In her article, Erdely quotes from eight figures other than Jackie, Jackie’s friends, and UVA administrators: an accuser in a previous case; the mother of an accuser in a previous case; a victims’ rights advocate; another victims’ rights advocate, from an organization called “SurvJustice”; the “founder of the national male sex-assault peer education group One in Four”; the head of the Obama administration’s OCR; the former public policy director of “the advocacy group Clery Center for Security on Campus”; and Wendy Murphy. It appears, therefore, as if Erdely spoke only to people who for personal or ideological reasons were inclined to vouch for Jackie’s credibility.The author of these words is none other than K.C. Johnson, who started and maintained the Durham-in-Wonderland blog and thoroughly documented the attempt to railroad the Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a revolting an drug addicted black stripper. He also wrote a book about it.
The first seven people in this list—however one-sided their compilation might be—at least are presented fairly. But then there’s the person Erdely describes “attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA.”
While Erdely elects not to inform her readers, Murphy has a past as a commenter on high-profile campus rape cases. In the lacrosse case, she repeatedly misstated (and on some occasions simply made up) “facts” designed to make the lacrosse players look guilty. To take a few examples, Murphy (on national TV) wildly claimed, “I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” She later asserted, “I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way.” Murphy falsely stated, “All the photographs showing how really fine [lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum] was when she left scene were doctored, where the date stamp was actually fraudulent.” The attorney falsely told a national TV audience that “all” of the lacrosse players took the Fifth Amendment. (None of them had, and three had voluntarily given statements to police without their attorneys present.) Murphy fantasized about non-existent “broomstick DNA” and the “torn genitalia” of the accuser.
(For citations to these and many other false Murphy statements, see here.)
What does it say about Erdely’s credibility—upon which, in the end, the story relies—that she is willing to uncritically quote from a charlatan like Murphy, all while not informing readers of her source’s grievous misstatements of facts on a previous high-profile allegation of campus sexual assault?
Johnson knows a little something about rape hoaxes, and given his experience with Duke, he might be one of the few bloggers to pick up this nugget. Of course, Erdely did not, Johnson noted, divulge Murphy’s past other than to say she “has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA.”
So this isn’t Muphy’s first bite at U.Va.’s apple. Two years ago at Minding the Campus, Johnson reported that Murphy had taken up the case of an alleged victim there after the accused was exonerated. U.Va.’s federally-mandated bias against the accused, by the way, which Johnson described briefly in his piece, suggests that Erdely’s portrait of U.Va. as a school that tolerates rape might be tad exaggerated. The school’s sexual misconduct policy manual runs 18 pages.
The Office of Civil Rights’ mandated procedures for investigating sexual assault are tilted heavily against the accused party. The institution can hire “neutral fact-finders” who produce the equivalent of a grand jury presentment, deny the accused an advisor of his choice, add witnesses that the accused student does not request, forbid the students from cross-examining his witnesses, and judge the student according to a 50.00001 percent preponderance of evidence standard, an approach that mocks even the pretense of due process.“Highly problematic” describes Erdely’s story. Is the leftist narrative collapsing again?
It is remarkable, then, that one such accused student at the University of Virginia was exonerated of the charges brought against him. Unfortunately, what happened next was unsurprising.
The accuser hired an outside attorney — none other than controversial victims’ rights lawyer Wendy Murphy — and filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. Murphy’s argument, as expressed to c-ville.com, comes close to saying that a failure to convict amounts to an OCR violation. “The preponderance standard is simple,” she told the newspaper. “When her accusations are deemed credible, and his denials are not described with the same glowing terminology, she wins.” But under the UVA system, the investigators (serving as the equivalent of a grand jury) have the authority to deem an accuser’s claims “credible.” For the OCR even to consider such an absurd claim would be highly problematic.