Debunked UVa gang rape may be connected to grand ‘catfishing’ plan

WASHINGTON — A sensational, but false story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house could all come down to a case of “catfishing” a love interest.

According to The Washington Post, new court documents suggest the alleged rape that eventually led to a now-debunked Rolling Stone article was all part of an elaborate scheme to win over a classmate. The documents were filed by lawyers representing the university’s Associate Dean Nicole Eramo, who is suing the magazine for defamation.

The woman, who has been identified simply as “Jackie,” had become friends with Ryan Duffin when they were both freshman. Court documents show Jackie wanted a romantic relationship, but Duffin preferred maintaining the friendship.

According to those documents, Jackie created “Haven Monahan,” an upperclassman she told Duffin and her other friends that she was dating. Monahan would text and communicate with Duffin, often sharing Jackie’s thoughts and feelings about Duffin.

In late September 2012, Jackie told Duffin and other friends that Monahan had gang-raped her at a university frat house. She then asked Duffin to comfort her.

But days later, Jackie told Duffin that she had forgiven Monahan for what had happened, causing Duffin to become suspicious about his existence.

After the Rolling Stone story had been debunked,  an investigation by the university and Charlottesville police determined there was no Monahan.

Duffin told The Post on Friday that if the magazine had interviewed him or the two other people who met with Jackie the night of the attack, the story would not have “blown up” like it has. “It’s weird to think that an entire portion of my life was consumed by these events that looking back looks so dumb,” he said.

The Post has reached out to Jackie and her lawyers, who have not responded to requests for comment.

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