University of Virginia dean files $7.5M defamation suit against Rolling Stone over rape story

Associate dean is suing Rolling Stone and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely

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The Independent US

University of Virginia Associate Dean Nicole Eramo has filed a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine for the way she was portrayed in a recently discredited story detailing a brutal gang rape on the school’s campus.

Ms Eramo filed suit because she says the now-infamous story “A Rape on Campus” painted her as an administrator unsympathetic to a young woman who was raped at a fraternity party and said she played a part in a campus cover-up.


“Erdely and Rolling Stone claimed…that Dean Eramo intentionally tried to coddle Jackie to persuade her not to report her rape; that she was indifferent to Jackie's allegations; that she discouraged Jackie from sharing her story with others,” the complaint said, according to NPR.

The Rolling Stone article was told primarily from the perspective of a source called “Jackie”, who claimed she was at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party with a date when she was taken upstairs in the fraternity house and gang raped.

The story was published in November, causing uproar across the US. But it did not take long before holes started appearing in the Rolling Stone account. Police in Charlottesville, Virginia were unable to corroborate “Jackie’s” story and, in March, the Columbia Journalism Review found that the piece was “a journalistic failure”.

The Columbia report found that Rolling Stone had not been able to confirm "Jackie's" account of the night of the alleged rape and had failed to check its facts before publishing the story.

Rolling Stone has retracted the story, but no one at the magazine has been fired as a result of the story, despite Columbia finding errors in just about all editorial layers involved in publishing the story. The magazine has not commented on the lawsuit.


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