A University of Virginia dean featured in Rolling Stone’s retracted feature on sexual assault at UVA has spoken out after months of silence, blasting the article for putting heartless words into her mouth that were not her own.
“Using me as the personification of a heartless administration, the Rolling Stone article attacked my life’s work,” UVA dean of students Nicole Eramo writes in a letter to Rolling Stone CEO Jann Wenner and posted by the Washington Post.
Eramo added that she remains “forever linked to an article that has damaged my reputation and falsely portrayed the work to which I have dedicated my life.”
In Rolling Stone’s November 2014 feature “A Rape on Campus,” reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely describes Eramo’s supposed interactions with UVA student “Jackie,” who told both the dean and the magazine that she had been gang-raped during a party at the campus’ Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The Rolling Stone article claims that Eramo did nothing in response to Jackie’s allegations and told the student that UVA doesn’t publish their sexual assault data “because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”
Rolling Stone “cast me as an unsympathetic and manipulative false friend to sexual assault victims who is more interested in keeping assault statistics down than providing meaningful guidance to victims or holding perpetrators of sexual assault accountable,” Eramo writes.
However, according to the UVA dean, “The true facts are very different.” Specifically, Eramo writes, she encouraged Jackie to report her alleged sexual assault to the proper authorities and arranged for the student to meet with local detectives. She also denies making the “rape school” remark.
“Rolling Stone celebrated these malicious and false allegations by accompanying the article with a cartoonish picture of me doctored to appear as though I was smiling and giving a ‘thumbs up’ to a crying victim sitting in my office, while angry protestors marched outside with signs like ‘Stop Victim Blaming,'” Eramo writes.
In her letter, Eramo says her false portrayal in the article spurred emails from people who said she should be raped or killed. During its internal investigation, UVA also removed Eramo from working with students, she writes, “forcing them to ‘start over’ with someone else.”
According to the original article, Rolling Stone reports that UVA did not make Eramo available for an interview. However, Eramo writes, the false claims in “A Rape on Campus” could have easily been fact-checked, but Rolling Stone “made a calculated decision not to contact sources who would have contradicted [the magazine’s] preconceived storyline.”
“Jackie’s story of being victimized by a brutal gang rape at the hands of a UVA fraternity was simply too enticing not to publish — and UVA, its administration, and its students were too easily painted as callous villains for Rolling Stone to be burdened by the facts,” Eramo writes.
We have reached out to Rolling Stone for comment about Eramo’s letter and will update this post with any statement we receive.
Eramo has retained a lawyer with the firm Clare Locke, which specialises in defamation litigation, The Washington Post reports.
Read the full letter from UVA dean Nicole Eramo to Rolling Stone CEO Jann Wenner below, via The Washington Post:
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