Federal jury finds Rolling Stone responsible for defamation over debunked story about rape

University Virginia UVA Students Campus Phi Kappa Psi FraternityJay Paul/Getty ImagesStudents walk past the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus.

A federal court jury found that
Rolling Stone defamed former University of Virginia (UVA) administrator Nicole Eramo in a story about sexual assault on campus.
The jury ruled that Rolling Stone journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely was responsible for defamation with actual malice, and that both the magazine and publisher were also responsible for defamation, according to The Washington Post.

The lawsuit brought by Eramo was in response to the now-discredited 2014 article “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” written by Erdely, which told the story of a brutal gang rape at a UVA fraternity that apparently never happened.

The story drew national outrage but was discredited following an investigation by Columbia Journalism School and was retracted by Rolling Stone.

Eramo filed a suit claiming the story unfairly portrayed her as dismissive of sexual assault reports on campus.

In closing statements, a lawyer for Rolling Stone said the magazine, “acknowledges huge errors in not being more dogged…It’s the worst thing to ever happen to Rolling Stone,” according to The Post.

The court will continue to hear evidence to decide damages to be awarded. Originally, Eramo sought $7.5 million, but she can adjust that figure.

The fraternity in the story, Phi Kappa Psi, brought a $25 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone in 2015 which is still pending.

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