Robert F. Turner is a professor at UVA. He wrote this column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch with his son who is a student at the school.

It’s time for a UVa. apology

One of us has taught at the University of Virginia for more than 25 years; the other, his son, is a third-year (junior) U.Va. student. We both love the university dearly, and when we heard that a member of our community of trust had been savagely gang-raped by other members (associated with a fraternity), we were shocked and angered.

Our first response was to seek to learn the facts. We independently read the Rolling Stone article (“A Rape on Campus,” Nov. 19), which we both concluded was filled with details that, to say the least, were implausible. U.Va. does not admit idiots, and only a fraternity filled with idiots would establish an initiation ritual requiring pledges to gang-rape fellow students. The crime of rape quite properly can be punished by imprisonment for life in Virginia.

Would anyone be so stupid as to assume that no fraternity brother or pledge had a functioning conscience (or a sister or girlfriend), that no victim of such abuse would complain or mention it to others who might report it, and thus authorities could never learn of their crimes?

For Rolling Stone to publish such horrendous allegations without even attempting to contact the accused or other students libeled in the article is outrageous.

To deter future journalistic misconduct, we hope the victims of their libels (including the university) will speak with their lawyers about seeking justice from Rolling Stone and its author.

This tragic matter obviously should not affect the university’s desire to prevent sexual abuse. But, hopefully, it will remind us that even disfavored organizations and individuals are entitled to fundamental due process of law.
Whatever the victims of this injustice decide, we believe the university owes those wrongfully punished a public apology.