Frat in Rape Story Sues Rolling Stone for $25M

Suit accuses magazine of 'reckless and unethical behavior'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2015 3:59 AM CST
Frat in Rape Story Sues Rolling Stone for $25M
Protestors carry signs and chant slogans in front of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia, Nov. 22, 2014, in Charlottesville, Va.   (AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Ryan M. Kelly)

A now-retracted Rolling Stone story on campus rape did $25 million in damage to the reputation of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday by the frat's University of Virginia chapter. The lawsuit, which can be seen here, says the magazine deliberately sought out a "sensational and graphic rape narrative" and its discredited story about the alleged gang rape of "Jackie" by frat members "subjected the student members and their families to danger and immense stress while jeopardizing the future existence of the chapter," the Washington Post reports. The lawsuit calls the story "a textbook example of publication with actual malice" and seeks damages for the "wanton destruction caused to Phi Kappa Psi by Rolling Stone's intentional, reckless, and unethical behavior."

Rolling Stone retracted the article after a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism review found that it had failed to meet basic journalistic standards. "The story was simply too tempting, too sensational, to let facts get in the way," the lawsuit charges. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the article's author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, is named as a co-defendant in the frat's lawsuit, which seeks $350,000 in punitive damages from each defendant on top of the $25 million. In the suit, the frat says it has struggled to attract new members and that many potential recruits who attended rush events this year had "no intention of pledging, but who rather were attending rush out of a curiosity to walk into the 'rape house,'" the Post notes. (A university dean is also suing Rolling Stone.)

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