( 4UMF NEWS ) UVA Dean Suing Rolling Stone:
A dean at the University of Virginia sued Rolling Stone magazine Tuesday, claiming the magazine cast her as the “chief villain” in its discredited article about a rape on campus.
Nicole Eramo, the associate dean of students who counseled the alleged rape victim, said the lawsuit filed in Charlottesville, Va., will “set the record straight.” The suit seeks more than $7 million from the magazine and publisher Wenner Media, which also owns US Weekly and several other magazines.
The suit claims the “defendant’s purpose in publishing the article was to weave a narrative that depicted the University of Virginia as an institution that is indifferent to rape on campus, and more concerned with protecting its reputation than with assisting victims of sexual assault.”
The gripping story A Rape on Campus, published in November, detailed an alleged gang rape at the U.Va. chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The magazine quickly backpedaled, however, after the story failed to hold up under media scrutiny. Eventually, local police also failed to find any evidence supporting the claims made by a student identified as “Jackie.”
The magazine issued an apology in December for its failures in reporting and editing. the magazine did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and the magazine claimed in a “slew of media appearances” that Eramo tried to “coddle” Jackie to persuade her not to report the rape and discouraged Jackie from sharing her story with others or telling police.
“These statements, and the portrayal of Dean Eramo, in A Rape on Campus and in Erdely and Rolling Stone’s subsequent public statements, are categorically false,” the suit says.
The article made national headlines and rocked the picturesque Charlottesville campus community. Within days, University President Teresa Sullivan suspended all fraternity activities on campus.
But the fraternity quickly challenged key facts in the article, and Rolling Stone later admitted that, at the request of the alleged victim, it never tried to interview the seven accused men.
In January, the university reinstated the fraternity. In March, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said his detectives found many inconsistencies in the story and no evidence the rape occurred. Longo said although more than 70 interviews were conducted, the investigation was suspended but not closed.
“I can’t prove that something didn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a disservice to Jackie and the university to just close this case” because more information could become available.
The magazine commissioned the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to study the way the article was handled. The 13,000-word report — 4,000 words longer than the article itself — released in April found a systematic failure by the magazine, starting with relying too heavily on a single source Jackie. But they also said the magazine, not Jackie, was to blame for the botched article.
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