The University of Virginia tried to cover up allegations of sexual assault by fraternities!

No, the above is not a not a summary of Sabrina Rubin Erdely's now-thoroughly-discredited (and since-retracted) November 2014 Rolling Stone story about a supposed frat-house gang rape that UVA supposedly put the hush-hush onto  so as not to alarm the alumni.

It's an actual 2016 story in the March 6 Washington Post whose gist is:

The University of Virginia tried to cover up allegations of sexual assault by fraternities!

Here goes:

The first conclusion to a four-year federal probe of sexual violence at the University of Virginia was issued in secret, and it stood for just four days.

Among its findings was that U-Va. “abdicated” its legal responsibility to act on reports of sexual violence within the school’s powerful Greek system and took a “hands off” approach, relying instead on fraternities to police their own membership in cases of alleged rape and other alleged sexual assaults. It also detailed numerous accounts of alleged sexual assault on the Charlottesville campus, tallied more than 150 cases of possible sexual harassment or sexual violence during a six-year period, and said the university failed to identify and address a “sexually hostile environment.”

That stern criticism of Virginia’s flagship public university was part of a 39-page letter to U-Va. officials presenting the findings of a U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, investigation that began in June 2011. The Aug. 31, 2015, letter came amid weeks of feverish maneuvering behind the scenes, with Virginia’s governor and two U.S. senators lobbying on behalf of the school amid concern about the effects of a lashing from the federal agency.

Then, the letter was buried.

A senior education official withdrew it on Sept. 4, after the university said it was riddled with inaccuracies. It It remained secret until The Washington Post recently obtained a copy through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

What the public was shown Sept. 21 — when the department and the university jointly announced a resolution — was a shorter and milder letter of findings that became the final word on the investigation. Exactly why the changes were made, and what influence the pro-U-Va. lobbying had on the process, remains unclear. The end result was a verdict that faulted the university’s record on sexual violence but was less harsh than the first version.


The story, by WaPo reporter Nick Anderson, doesn't get around to mentioning that li'l ol' Rolling Stone story until paragraphs 29 and 30:

As the investigation was nearing completion, U-Va. was at the center of turmoil over college sexual assault. The school had been rocked in the fall of 2014, when Rolling Stone magazine published an account of an alleged gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity and depicted the university as indifferent to the issue, an accusation U-Va. officials strenuously denied. The gang-rape account unraveled after The Post revealed significant discrepancies in it. Although the magazine ultimately retracted the article, the episode took a toll on the university’s public image.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) cited the Rolling Stone fiasco in an Aug. 14 letter to then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan, saying that he worried that information federal investigators gathered before the article was retracted, in April, “could have been influenced by the atmosphere unfairly created on campus by that false article.”

But Anderson's story does contain this

The original findings were packed with sobering data and anecdotes, including case studies of 13 informal student reports of possible sexual misconduct. Several involved alleged sexual assault or rape. Many details were redacted in the version that the federal government provided to The Post, but these narratives generally faulted U-Va.’s response.

One narrative, labeled “Student Report #2,” said: “The University then took an entire year, with periods of three months and six months between contacts with the complainant, to determine that the University had an obligation to act, despite the complainant’s request for no action. To date, it is unclear whether the University took any action or had merely determined that it had an obligation to do so.”

The Sept. 21 letter omitted the 13 narratives.

Um, maybe one of those" narratives" was supplied by "Jackie," Sabrina Erdely's principal (and likely sole) informant, the UVA student whose tale of a lurid 2012 gang-rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house amid the glass shards of a shattered table-top was shown to have taken place entirely within the confines of Jackie's vivid imagination.

And then there's this paragraph in Anderson's story:

The first letter asserted that the chair of the university’s ­sexual-misconduct board, which adjudicates complaints against alleged attackers, had a conflict of interest because she had multiple roles on campus. An associate dean of students, she was often a first point of contact and support for students who were considering filing sexual-assault reports.

Later, the government hedged this criticism, saying that the multiple roles created “the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

That "associate dean of students" was likely UVA dean Nicole Eramo, who has sued Erdely and Rolling Stone for libel over allegations in Erdely's story that she actively discouraged Jackie from taking official action on her supposed rape.

The Obama administration's Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is notorious for its execution-first-then-trial approach to claims of campus sexual harassment. So maybe, just maybe, some wiser heads at the Education Department prevailed in the controversy over the contents of that incendiary first letter. Maybe McAuliffe had a point when he charged that the first version seemed somewhat overly influenced, shall we say, by the Gospel according to Rolling Stone than by actual incidents on the UVA campus.

But you'd never guess that from reading Anderson's story, where it still seems to be November 2014, and:

The University of Virginia tried to cover up allegations of sexual assault by fraternities!