RICHMOND, Va. — A University of Virginia associate dean sued Rolling Stone magazine on Tuesday for more than $7.5 million, saying a debunked account of an alleged gang rape on campus cast her as the “chief villain.”
Nicole Eramo, U.Va.’s top administrator dealing with sexual assaults, said the lengthy and graphic magazine piece about a student identified only as “Jackie” portrayed her as more concerned about protecting the elite university’s reputation than helping victims of sexual assault.
“I am filing this defamation lawsuit to set the record straight — and to hold the magazine and the author of the article accountable for their actions in a way they have refused to do themselves,” Eramo said in a statement.
A report published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said Rolling Stone failed at virtually every step of the process, from the reporting by Sabrina Rubin Erdely to an editing process that included high-ranking staffers.
No one at Rolling Stone was fired or disciplined as a result of the article, titled “A Rape on Campus.”
The lawsuit was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. It also accuses Erdely and Wenner Media of making false and defamatory statements.
Rolling Stone did not immediately respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.
The fraternity where the alleged rape was said to have occurred, Phi Kappa Psi, has also signaled it plans to sue Rolling Stone.
A police investigation found no evidence of the sexual assault depicted in the article.
Eramo’s lawsuit said the Rolling Stone piece stated Eramo “intentionally tried to coddle Jackie” to persuade her to be silent about the assault.
“To personify the University’s alleged institutional indifference to rape, Erdely and Rolling Stone cast Dean Eramo, who met with and counseled Jackie, as the chief villain of the story,” the lawsuit states.
STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press