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Another “Jackie”? Cosmo might be repeating Rolling Stone’s error

The house was depicted in a debunked Rolling Stone story as the site of a rape in September of 2012. A defamation trial against the magazine is set to begin on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, over its article about “Jackie” and her harrowing account of being gang raped in a fraternity initiation. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Cosmopolitan published the shocking story of a woman who was raped and harassed because she works for an abortion provider. However, the bombshell story lacked solid evidence, leading to some asking questions about the validity of the piece.  

The horrific story of sexual assault, recounted to writer Rebecca Grant, involves Hales going on a first date with a man she met online. Before their second date, the man texted Hales about her job. He knew she worked for an abortion provider, and said he was fine with it.

On that second date, Hales says, “He acted really weird the whole time…really standoffish.”

He then allegedly followed her to her car and raped her.

“He said things like I should have expected this and that I deserved it. He asked how I could live with myself and said I should repent. That I was a jezebel. That I was a murderer,” she told Cosmo.

Following the attack, Hales drove to her friends’ house. Those friends advised her to go to the police. Those friends are not named in the story – nor does the writer make any mention of attempting to contact them. In fact, at no point throughout the piece does the author make any mention of attempting to vet the story. The piece fails to even include the date of the alleged attack.

Hales recounts a hospital, which is not named, losing paperwork for her first visit. Did Cosmo try to find records of the second visit? Hales says she gave up on that hospital (understandably) and went to UNC Medical Center. Did writer Rebecca Grant see any records of her visit there?

The nightmare Hales describes didn’t end the night she was raped. The perpetrator showed up at the clinic where she works, and protesters started hurling the same insults as the alleged rapist. One protester asked Hales about her tattoo, which is not visible when clothed, but was visible to her attacker when he raped her in the car. Cosmo does not say if their reporter tried to verify details with other clinic employees, or if they even asked to see surveillance video that would show the man outside the clinic.

According to Grant, “Hales received a barrage of anonymous text messages, phone calls, and voicemails” but Grant never mentions seeing or hearing any of them.

It’s not the victim’s job to dig up proof of the crime – but it is a reporter’s job to uncover evidence, wade through details, and interview people who corroborate the story. Grant managed to paint all pro-life activists as threatening and scary – but she failed to provide hard facts on which to base Hale’s claim.

Even Slate noticed strange inconsistencies in the story: Hales’ mother is quoted in the piece, but not named, though her photo appears with the text.

In a politically charged story, especially about rape, we must be suspicious of another “Jackie.” Jackie told her rape story to Sabrina Erdely of Rolling Stone, who published the piece without verifying the facts, similar to this piece with Cosmo. Jackie’s entire story turned out to be a hoax – a hoax perpetrated against one of the left’s favorite villains: frat boys. The young student’s reputation was ruined by a totally fictitious story.

Cosmopolitan could put all the speculation to rest by simply publishing notes on who Grant interviewed, and what evidence Grant reviewed in terms of phone records and hospital records. That is, of course, if they have it.


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