University of Georgia ‘demands retraction’ from AJC story it says includes ‘errors,’ ‘fabrications’

Several current and former members of the University of Georgia football program have been emersed in legal troubles, but a recent article focused on one of them “crossed a new line,” the school says.

A recent article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution includes “errors, unsubstantiated allegations, innuendo, and possibly even fabrications,” the school said on Tuesday.

The story by Alan Judd, headlined “UGA football program rallies when players accused of abusing women,” contains “reckless disregard for the truth and its imposition of a damaging narrative unsupported by the facts,” the file says.

Michael M. Raeber, the school’s general counsel, says that the article’s headline reads that the program “actively supports” “sexual misconduct.” The author claims the outlet identified 11 players to remain on the team after reported violent encounters with women and/or the school, but the school says only two were identified by name, and one more was not.

A view of Sanford Stadium in a game against Georgia Tech

A general view of Sanford Stadium during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on November 24, 2018 in Athens, Georgia.  (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The university says they made attempts to reach out to Judd and acquire the list of players identified, which he “refused,” citing AJC’s “policy” not to release “unpublished information.” However, the school says they have not been given a copy of the policy, and the outlet is actually going against its own code of ethics.

“Even if such a policy exists, the AJC did publish this information,” Raeber said. “Mr. Judd published an entire article excoriating the UGA football program for ‘rallying’ on behalf of players accused of abusing women, primarily based on the assertion that ‘11 players’ remained on the team after being accused. The AJC Newsroom Ethics Code states that AJC is ‘transparent’ about its ‘newsgathering methods.’ But when asked simply to provide a list of the eleven names reference in the article, Mr. Judd refused.”

Raeber added it is “confident there are not 11 players” who met Judd’s claims, nor did the three players mentioned, which the school says Judd wrote committed the “most serious” wrongdoings, even “meet the description.” 

One of those three players, the school says, wasn’t a member of the team when his allegations were brought to light, and the two others were suspended and never played for the team again, despite one case being open and the other case, which was of “unlawful surveillance (not sexual assault as Mr. Judd claims),” being dismissed.

The school says Judd wrote about the third athlete recording himself having sex with an unconscious woman who was “passed out…drunk.” Judd, per the school, said Athlens-Clarke County police “strangely” did not charge him with sexual assault. The university says they requested police reports and videos of the alleged incident, the reports were not produced to the outlet, and the videos are “legally exempt from production because their release would violate the personal privacy rights of the complainant in the case.”

Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs

The Paint Line and fans cheer on their team during a game between Samford Bulldogs and Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Athens, Georgia.  (Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

“If Mr. Judd has obtained the videos and/or supplemental police reports for this case from some other source and has reviewed them, then he is knowingly misrepresenting their contents. If he has not seen the videos and supplemental reports, then his version of events is simply fabricated,” Raeber wrote.

Police, according to the school, said the videos depicted consensual sex, and the complainant was “engaged and responsive” and “‘actively participating’ in the sexual activity.” The unlawful surveillance charge came from the player being alleged to have recorded the activity without consent, but, as previously mentioned, that charge was dismissed.

“His repeated public assertions that this former player remained on the roster after being ‘charged with recording a sex act with an unconscious woman’ are simply false,” the school said.

A picture of the Georgia Bulldogs flag at Sanford Stadium

A view of the Georgia Bulldogs flag after a score in the game between the UAB Blazers and the Georgia Bulldogs on September 11, 2021 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.   (Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The school also says Judd arranged quotes of a police interview with 16-year-old recruit Jamaal Jarrett to play into his “false narrative.” The article also says players received head coach Kirby Smarts “blessing” to attend a former player’s Bond Hearing, but the school said all attendees went voluntarily

The school later added this is not the first time Judd has had inaccurate reporting.

“The AJC Newsroom Ethics Code proclaims, ‘We admit our errors and correct them.’ I write today to demand just that–an admission of error and a retraction of the article,” Raeber wrote. “The retraction should be prompt, clearly identified as a retraction, and featured and promoted as conspicuously and publicly as the original article.”

Raeber concluded:

“The AJC prominently touts its ‘commitment to seek the truth and provide accountability of public institutions.’ It further proclaims: ‘As journalists, we must earn the trust of our audience every day. Our professional integrity is the cornerstone of our credibility. Fairness and transparency must always be the hallmarks of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s journalism.

A picture of Georgia Bulldogs' helmets

A general view of the Georgia Bulldogs helmets at the game between the UAB Blazers and the Georgia Bulldogs on September 11, 2021 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.   (Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Mr. Judd’s most recent articles falls far short of these standards. Absent the numerous and significant inaccuracies identified in this letter, there is simply no foundation for the central premise of the article – that the UGA football program actively supports players accused of abusing women. For the foregoing reasons, we demand the AJC’s prompt, clear, and conspicuous retraction of the article.”

Georgia won its second of back-to-back national championships this past January.

The AJC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

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