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University of Virginia by PBS NewsHour

UVA official sues Rolling Stone for libel over debunked campus rape story

Updated on May 12 at 4:30 p.m. EST | An associate dean of students at the University of Virginia has filed a $7.5 million libel lawsuit against Rolling Stone, claiming the magazine portrayed the school official as the “chief villain” in its now-retracted story of a gang rape on campus.

Nicole Eramo filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit Tuesday, which states that Rolling Stone’s November 2014 article personified her as indifferent to a student’s sexual-assault claim about a fraternity gang rape and discouraged the alleged victim, identified as “Jackie” in the story, not to share her account with others.

The lawsuit was filed in Charlottesville, Virginia and also named the magazine’s parent company, Wenner Media, and the story’s reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, in the lawsuit.

“To personify the university’s alleged insitutional indifference to rape, Erdely and Rolling Stone cast Dean Eramo, who met with and counseled Jackie (the alleged rape victim), as the chief villain of the story,” the lawsuit said, adding that the story’s claims are “not only clearly false, but they are defamatory per se.”

The story, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” was subsequently debunked after the Washington Post, among others, questioned the events laid out in Jackie’s account.

In December, Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana apologized for “discrepancies” in the story, adding that the magazine’s “trust in [Jackie] was misplaced.”

Rolling Stone then commissioned an independent review, conducted by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, to heavily scrutinize the story, which drew nationwide attention. The 13,000-word report concluded that the story was a “journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

A separate investigation by Charlottesville police concluded in March that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the sexual assault took place.

Read Eramo’s full complaint, provided by the Washington Post, below:

Era Mo Rollingstone Complaint

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