University of Virginia head cancels press appearance amid rape probe

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 01, 2014 12:57 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan canceled a Monday appearance at Washington's National Press Club amid uproar over allegations of rape at a university fraternity, the school said.

Sullivan called off her luncheon appearance at the press club, a key venue for newsmakers in the U.S. capital, because of "recent events at the University of Virginia" and because many students, staff and faculty had been away for the Thanksgiving holiday, the school said in a statement on Sunday.

"During this extraordinary and difficult time for UVA, President Sullivan’s energies are best focused on our grounds," the statement said.

The school in Charlottesville, Virginia, about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Washington, has been roiled by a Rolling Stone magazine report last month that alleged a woman was raped in 2012 by seven men at the school's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said last week he was appointing an independent investigator to examine the allegations and how the school handled the matter.

The university chapter of Phi Kappa Psi has surrendered its fraternity agreement with the school and suspended activity. Sullivan suspended all other fraternity and sorority activities until Jan. 9.

Charlottesville police are investigating the case.

During a special meeting last week of the school's Board of Visitors, Sullivan said the Rolling Stone article pointed to what she described an entrenched problem in student life.

The school was shaken earlier this year by the abduction and death of Hannah Graham, a sophomore whose remains were found in

October outside Charlottesville. A Charlottesville man has been charged in her disappearance.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)