Jury: Rolling Stone Defamed Dean With College Rape Story

The magazine was found guilty over its discredited article on Friday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 4, 2016 1:22 PM CDT
Jury Rules Against Rolling Stone in Rape Article Defamation Trial
Rolling Stone contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely walks with her legal team to federal court in Charlottesville, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.    (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A federal jury found Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher, and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator in a discredited story about gang rape at a fraternity house, multiple news outlets including the Washington Post report. University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo claimed the 2014 article portrayed her as a villain who discouraged the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting the incident to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims. Rolling Stone's attorneys said there was no evidence that the reporter knew what she was writing about Eramo was false or had serious doubts about whether it was true. Jurors heard closing arguments on Tuesday after listening to more than two weeks' worth of evidence, the AP reports.

The story about Jackie's rape set off a firestorm at the university and in schools nationwide. Eramo received hundreds of angry letters and emails calling her the "dean of rape," among other things, and faced protesters outside her office. The story crumbled after other news outlets began asking questions and police found no evidence to back it up. The article was officially retracted in April 2015. Among the statements in the article that Eramo claimed were defamatory was one in which she is quoted—through Jackie—as saying that the university doesn't publish all of its statistics about sexual assault because "nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school." Eramo says that was fabricated by Jackie. (More University of Virginia stories.)

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