This is yuuge!
A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.
The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo.
The $7.5 million lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus.” The article appeared online in late Nov. 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue.
The story opened with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape that went viral online and sent shock waves across the U-Va. campus community. But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015.
Eramo’s lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine’s portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair.
This is great news, but it isn’t exactly justice.
The real victim here is the fraternity that was falsely accused of gang rape. And one of the guilty parties (serial fabulist “Jackie” the bogus rape victim) has escaped punishment. Most places won’t even give her full name (Jackie Coakley) and keep protecting her like she is a real rape victim.
Even worse, don’t be surprised to see the verdict overturned or reduced on appeal.
But this is still great news. Maybe the tide is finally turning.