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CNN NEWSROOM

Press Conference On UVA Alleged Rape. Aired 2-2:30p

Aired March 23, 2015 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Just a heads up, we're going to go live to Charlottesville, Virginia, any minute now. Let me just set this up for you briefly. We may finally learn what happened to this young woman at the University of Virginia by the name of Jackie. Jackie, whose story of an alleged gang rape in "Rolling Stone" magazine just a couple of months ago, you know, caught all kinds of national attention last fall. Any moment here -- you can see some of the members of the media, this is a packed, packed house here in this room in Charlottesville -- they're waiting to see the police chief, potentially other investigators, step up to this podium and explain what exactly they have found, the Charlottesville Police investigation.

This is -- this is the result of months and months of investigating what was really true in this article in "Rolling Stone" and what wasn't. Again, just to go back, this was a peace called "A Rape on Campus." Absolutely horrified readers when it was published in November. It told the story of this young woman who they used as an alias as Jackie, had just started her freshman year at the University of Virginia. I see Tim Longo, this is the police chief in Charlottesville. Let's jump in.

CHIEF TIM LONGO, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA POLICE: Good afternoon, everyone.

I'm Tim Longo, the city of police for the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. Joining me here this morning -- or this afternoon, rather, is Detective Sergeant David Harris, and Detective Jake Via (ph). They were responsible for the investigation into the horrific allegations raised in the November 19, 2014 (ph) article which appeared in "Rolling Stone" magazine.

Now, after the press conference this afternoon, you will be given a very lengthy document. I say lengthy. It's about six or seven pages. It kind of outlines the steps that Detective Sergeant Harris and Detective Via went through in an effort to investigate this incident. And what I'm going to do this afternoon is kind of, in bullet form, go through what those steps were and tell you the outcome that we've reached. And then, of course, we'll answer any questions that you might have to the extent we're able to answer those questions. So I'll ask for your cooperation up front. Before I begin, I want to take a moment to thank President Teresa

Sullivan at the University of Virginia and her staff for making themselves available to us, not only personally, but also making those records that they are legally able to disclose available to us so we could do as thorough a job as possible to investigate these allegations.

I also certainly want to thank legal aid. They were helpful in the early stages of this investigation, working with the young lady that we came to identify in this case as Jackie. Also want to thank counsel on behalf of the Phi Psi fraternity who made available to us persons and records and other information that was helpful in our investigative process. I want to thank the University of Virginia Police Department, of course our partner each and every day as we deal with issues in and around the university community.

I also want to thank those who had the courage to come forward when we asked and be interviewed and cooperate with this important investigative process. They were under no compulsion to do so. We had no authority upon which to compel their corporation. But they came forth nonetheless.

And then lastly, I want to thank our service providers in the community and commit to our service providers and our survivors in this community to work to help address the important needs of the survivors of sexual assault in our community.

As you know, the November 19, 2014, article that was published in the "Rolling Stone" magazine prompted tremendous concern, and I think that's probably an understatement, in our community and throughout our nation about sexual assault generally and specifically how sexual assaults are handled on college campuses. Immediately upon the release of that article, the department was contacted by President Sullivan and she respectfully requested that we commence an immediate criminal investigation into the facts that were contained within that article.

Dean Nicole Eramo first learns of a sexual assault that had occurred in September of 2012 on May the 20, 2013, when she met with Jackie. Jackie was referred to Dean Eramo at that time for some academic issues and it was during the course of that meeting that she described a sex act. But that act that was described was not consistent with the facts and circumstances as they were described in the article in "Rolling Stone" magazine. At that time, she did not disclose a specific location as to where that event may have taken place.

[14:04:59] She again meets with Dean Eramo on April the 21, 2014, regarding a physical assault which is alleged to have occurred on the corner involving four male subjects. It was during the course of that meet that she discloses the Phi Kappa Psi house as the location of the September 28, 2012, sexual assault.

Now, the Charlottesville Police Department first became aware of the 2012 assault when an officer came to meet with Jackie and Dean Eramo and the University of Virginia police officer in April of 2014 after Jackie's second meeting with Dean Eramo. She described a circumstances or a set of circumstances that occurred on the university corner early that month, April the 6, 2014, to be exact, somewhere in the area of Elliewood Avenue, she would say that she came upon four male individuals. They began to follow her. One of them called her name. As she turned to look in their direction, she was struck with an object that, in further investigation or rather in interviewing would be disclosed as a bottle. She said she was struck in the side of the face. She said that when she went home that night, her roommate, who was a nursing student, actually had to help pick the glass particles from her face.

And I will tell you that that roommate was subsequently interviewed and she denies doing that. She further would describe the injury that she saw on her roommate's face as being something of an abrasion. That description is consistent with what investigators would conclude when seeing a photograph that was taken sometime during the week of April 11th, which shows some swelling around Jackie's eye and again something that appears to be more of an abrasion as opposed to a blunt trauma injury.

Jackie would further say, during that interview, that she made a telephone call in the area of the parking garage on Elliewood and that that phone call was placed to I believe her mother. We had an opportunity to look at phone records that we believe are Jackie's phone records and there is no such call outlined in those records. There was also a call for service -- a totally unrelated call for service around that same time period in which a Charlottesville police officer responded, was there for several minutes. Where the officer was on Elliewood would have been visible to someone who would have been in or around the parking garage. I might highlight that, again, it wasn't until several weeks later that Jackie brings that assault to our attention.

It's also, at that time, that she -- she reveals a sexual assault that took place in 2012. She did not wish to report that incident that night to the officer who responded to meet with Dean Eramo and the university officer. And so no report was written at her request.

But on May the 1, 2014, Detective Via met with Jackie again, in the presence of Dean Eramo, and, again, Jackie refused to disclose the details of the sexual assault, nor did she wish to pursue the investigation involving the alleged physical assault, which occurred on April the 6th.

And so we fast forward now to November. The "Rolling Stone" magazine article is released. And, again, President Sullivan contacts the department and asks for an immediate investigation.

Jake quickly recalled having met with the young lady, pardon me, in April. He connects the dots. Reaches out to Jackie by phone I believe first. Leaves a message. This is somewhere around the Thanks -- just prior to the Thanksgiving break. Next day he e-mails Jackie and that time Jackie responds back to him and she agrees to meet with Detective Via after the Thanksgiving break.

And so, on December the 2nd, she comes to the Charlottesville Police Department, accompanied by Dean Laurie Casteen from the University of Virginia Dean of Students Office. She's also present with legal counsel that she had acquired through legal aid and justice center here in Charlottesville. And through her lawyer, she refuses to give a statement or answer any questions.

At some point thereafter, in an effort to try to get some records that we thought might be relevant to our investigation, records that were specific to Jackie that the university was not at liberty to give us because of federal privacy law, we asked through legal counsel whether Jackie would consent to a search -- excuse me, consent to allowing us to gain access by written consent to those records. And that -- that request as well was denied.

[14:10:05] We were provided by counsel on behalf of Phi Kappa Psi a membership roster from 2012, along with the lease agreements at that time and bank records. Nine of the 11 residents were interviewed who were present -- or who were in the house in 2012 were interview and had no knowledge regarding a sexual assault, nor did they know the person known as Jackie. A questionnaire that was prepared by Sergeant Harris and Detective Via was sent to fraternity members. Nineteen of those questionnaires were returned. None provided any information regarding Jackie or a sexual assault either on September the 28, 2012, or at the house.

Further investigation revealed no evidence that a party had taken place on September 28, as well. We checked the social calendar. There was no information pertaining to a calendar -- of such a party on the social calendar. In addition to the fact we did find that their sister sorority, Gamma -- Delta Gamma did, in fact, have a formal, I believe, on that particular evening and the thought was that they would not likely have had two events, as not to cannibalize each other's guest lists. And so we weren't able to support that a party was taking place at Phi Kappa Psi.

We also discovered during the course of the investigation, though I suspect a cooperative witness that was interviewed or potential witness, a photograph that's time stamped September the 28th around 11:30 at night and it depicts the entrance corridor of the main room of the fraternity house to the, as I recall, to the left of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It depends on which way you're facing (INAUDIBLE).

LONGO: So you have stairwell on one side, you have an entrance door, side entrance door on the other. There's a male depicted in the picture. He's holding two chairs. There is literally no one else around. We found that to be somewhat inconsistent with the large group that was described in the "Rolling Stone" article. Suffice it to say, we were unable to find any basis of fact to conclude that there was even an event on September the 28, 2012 at that particular fraternity house.

The investigators turned to two of Jackie's best friends that we had an opportunity -- that investigators had an opportunity to interview. They were aware that Jackie was to be going on a date that particular night with a person identified as Haven Monahan. They had never met Haven Monahan. They had exchanged text messages with the person they believed to be Haven Monahan, but, again, they had never met him. It's my understand, as I recall, they were supposed to be going to the Boar's Head in -- for dinner and then they were going to go to a subsequent fraternity event.

Unfortunately, the Boar's Head Inn doesn't retain reservations records from 2012. We didn't have sufficient information to access any credit card information to determine whether they even -- anyone ever dined at the Boar's Head Inn that evening or not.

The other interesting piece of information that comes from the interview of these two friends is that their recollection of the meeting up after this event that is described in the article, they just -- they remember it as somewhat different than is described in the article. I believe the article indicates that Jackie reached out to her friends and that they met up closer to the Mad Bowl (ph), or the area where the alleged assault took place. The friends seem to think that at (INAUDIBLE) dorm, somewhat across campus, was the location. They don't recall any -- any physical injuries. They do feel like something occurred, but they don't recall any -- any physical injuries. And so there's some inconsistencies between what they recall and what's outlined in the article.

We've made numerous attempts to identify who Haven Monahan is to the extent that Haven Monahan even exists. Using that telephone number that they believed they were texting back and for to. We searched numerous Internet sites to try to identify him. The telephone number came back to. It was a Google number, as I recall. And there was no information that could be obtained, subscriber information that could be obtained from Google.

We interviewed members of the Aquatic staff. Haven Monahan, or this person Drew (ph), that's identified in the article, and Jackie were supposed to have worked together at the Aquatic Center pool. Interviewed the supervisors at the pool. None of them were familiar with a Drew or a Haven Monahan.

[14:15:00] There was another name that surfaced during the course of the investigation as we talked to people. This individual was someone worth looking at because I believe he worked at the Aquatic Center. And he also belonged to a fraternity. But not this same fraternity. So we wanted to be as thorough as we could. We contacted that person. He met with us. He was represented by counsel, as well. He gave statements. He provided financial record, work schedules. I don't know that there was ever any overlap with respect to his shift or Laurie -- Jackie's, rather, Jackie's shift at the pool.

We also went as far as to interview, I believe, five of the six persons who resided at the fraternity that he was part of. All of them were cooperative as I recall. And none of them had any information regarding a sexual assault that occurred at their house, nor were they aware of Jackie, as I recall. In addition to the fact that the layout of their house is very different than what is described in the "Rolling Stone" article.

So that really is the extent of this investigation and I apologize that it has taken as long as it has. Unfortunately, we're not able to conclude any -- to any substantive degree that an incident that is consistent with the facts contained in that article occurred at the Phi -- the Kappa -- Phi Psi -- Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house or any other house for that matter.

I want to be clear about something. That doesn't mean that something terrible did not happen to Jackie on the evening of September the 28, 2012. We are just not able to gather sufficient facts to conclude what that something may have been. So this case is not closed. It's not closed by any stretch of the imagination. It's suspended until such time as we are able to gather more information or such time until someone comes forward and provides us with more information.

There were also two other cases that were referenced in Jackie's conversations with Dean Eramo. She referenced an allegation of a 2010 sexual assault which she said occurred at that particular fraternity house. And she also alleged a 2014 sexual assault which she would say occurred at that fraternity house. We have no evidence of that. No one has come forward making such allegations. No witnesses, no victim, no evidence whatsoever to support that -- support those claims. But we're asking, if anyone has information related to a sexual assault that occurred in 2010 at that fraternity house or 2014 at that fraternity house or any other fraternity house, that they please cooperate with the police and bring that to our attention.

And, you know, one last thing that I will say, that I reiterated before since being called before the board of visitors to have this important discussion, having police involvement at the very early stages of these investigations is extremely, extremely important. And as I said months ago and will repeat now, with every second of every minute of every hour of every day, of every week of every month, of every year, we lose evidence. We lose testimonial evidence. We lose physical evidence. We lose forensic evidence. We lose the evidence that's important to get to the truth behind these cases so that justice can prevail.

So we'll answer your questions the best that we can. To the extent I can't answer the question, I'll certainly let you know. If it's outside my scope of knowledge, that's why these fine gentlemen are here. To the extent that they're able to cooperate with you, we certainly will.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Chief, (INAUDIBLE). As far as you can tell, the allegations laid out in the "Rolling Stone" article, as they were laid out in the magazine, they were untrue?

LONGO: We have no way to support that. We have no evidence that supports those assertions.

QUESTION: Did Jackie say anything or do anything in the course of this investigation misleading the police that result in any kind of charges against her?

LONGO: We've had really -- our only encounter with Jackie, other than the telephone call and an e-mail exchange, is when she came in with counsel in early December and that is our last physical encounter with her. And any and all other information was shared through counsel.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Would you say that she was cooperative in the investigation?

LONGO: Well, she did not provide us a statement.

QUESTION: And then just a follow-up question.

QUESTION: Did she give a reason?

QUESTION: After the article came out, people were saying that there was a rape culture on campus. In the investigation, was there anything to back that up?

[14:20:00] LONGO: With respect to this investigation, we could find no information that would corroborate such an assertion.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: How much time and money did the Charlottesville Police Department devote to investigating this?

LONGO: You know, I have not made that determination. A lot of time and energy went into trying to track down people. Keeping in mind that we had no way to compel cooperation. So some of the time taken and invested was just trying to locate folks and get them in to interview them.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Did the investigation include a sit down interview with Sabrina Early (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

LONGO: DJ (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did interview her, yes.

QUESTION: And what was she able to corroborate anything (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she was able to provide us some very specific questions. As a journalist, I mean there's some things she just could not get into because of protecting her sources. But some of the stuff that was in the article, we were able to actually go through and try to get in a little more detail than what was actually printed. So, yes, she was cooperative with us as best as she could be.

QUESTION: Did she seem to stand by the story when she was speaking with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll have to ask her that.

QUESTION: Hey, chief.

QUESTION: Could you just verify, so it sounds like there had been a history of her charge -- saying that she had been assaulted. There was one other case, is that right?

LONGO: No, I think those were other alleged victims.

QUESTION: And can you --

QUESTION: Hey, chief --

QUESTION: I thought when she was walking down the street she --

LONGO: Yes, let me clarify that. Thank you. The second time she met with Dean Eramo in April of 2014, she discussed a physical assault, being struck with a bottle on April the 6th. It's when she met with an officer regarding that incident that she also discloses to us for the first time the sexual assault that occurred in 2012.

QUESTION: You had -- you had talked with her about previous assaults? There -- there had -- she had come to believe about a -- an assault other than what was reported in "Rolling Stone"?

LONGO: That was the April the 6th assault with the bottle. Yes, ma'am, that's correct.

QUESTION: Can you describe the phone records that you reviewed and how you obtained them?

LONGO: I cannot.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: You mentioned something about 2010. Can you just clarify exactly from Jackie or someone else what that was?

LONGO: Well, my understanding is, and, DJ, correct me if I'm wrong, is that Jackie brought to Dean Eramo's attention an incident in 2010 and in 2014, but no one has come forward to report those incidents.

QUESTION: Chief, I'm just confused because, maybe I'm wrong, but I didn't think Jackie was at the University of Virginia in 2010.

LONGO: I don't know that she had actual knowledge of the event, but had knowledge such that she was able to share it.

QUESTION: But they were incidents --

LONGO: Not --

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) with herself.

LONGO: That's correct. They were not incidents that involved her. Thank you for that point of clarification.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Chief, quick question. You mentioned the importance of how important it is to investigate early, to get that forensic evidence. But why was this not fully investigated -- like you mentioned, this is a criminal investigation -- right off the bat when you learned about this? LONGO: When we learned about it? Well, first of all, when the -- you mean you're talking about in April and May of 2014?

QUESTION: Right. Early on. Before -- because you mentioned that it was the university who asked you to come forward and help with an investigation but upon learning of the allegations, of one of your officers talking to Jackie, was an investigation (INAUDIBLE) --

LONGO: She did not wish to purchase the criminal justice system as part of her options. And she certainly had the right to do that at that point.

QUESTION: Did she give a reason why or her attorney give a reason why she wasn't fully cooperative this latest time around?

LONGO: I don't recall that she did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. The last contact we had with her was on December 10th. And we were very distinctly and (INAUDIBLE) told that she would not talk to us, that she would not file a report, that she did not want it investigated, and that we were not to talk to her again. So that's what I can tell you.

LONGO: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Given what you've described as a comprehensive, thorough investigation, credibility issues, reluctance of the individual to pursue charge, why aren't you closing the case?

LONGO: Because I can't prove that something didn't happen and there may come a point in time where either this survivor or this complaining party, this person we've identified as Jackie, or someone else may not come forward with information that might help us move this investigation further. I think it's a disservice to Jackie, I think it's a disservice to, frankly to the university too simply close this without at least allowing an opportunity so that if additional information comes forward, we're able to further investigate it.

QUESTION: So how long do you keep it open? Years?

LONGO: There's no statute of limitations on this particular type of crime.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: After --

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.

[14:24:50] 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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

BALDWIN: Right.

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. 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. An 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.

BALDWIN: Right.

HOSTIN: And that really is the bigger issue here.

BALDWIN: Right.

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.

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.

[14:30:05] HOSTIN: Yes, that's the chilling effect. GANIM: That's the chilling effect.

HOSTIN: That's true.