The lies of "Jackie"—the University of Virginia student at the center of Rolling Stone's erroneous rape story—have finally caught up with her: Jackie will be compelled to testify as part of UVA Dean Nicole Eramo's lawsuit against the magazine, a judge has ruled.
Eramo, who was portrayed as indifferent and unhelpful toward victims of sexual assault in the Rolling Stone story, is suing the magazine for defamation. She has asked for $7.85 million in damages. [Related: Is the UVA Rape Story a Gigantic Hoax?]
Jackie's testimony could prove key to Eramo's case. Jackie told Rolling Stone that she was gang-raped by nine men—including her date, a lifeguard named Haven Monahan—during a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. But numerous investigations into the allegation have found it to be baseless. There was no party at Phi Psi on the night in question, Jackie's friends dispute aspects of her account, and most damningly, Haven Monahan does not exist.
Many media experts, including the Columbia University School of Journalism, believe that Rolling Stone's reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, would have easily uncovered Jackie's lies if she had bothered to follow basic journalistic protocol. But neither the author, nor the magazine's editors, pressed Jackie for key details that would have exposed the story as false.
Jackie, of course, bears just as much responsibility for her lies as Rolling Stone does. She is not, however, named in the lawsuit.
Her deposition, then, is in some sense a rare opportunity for the law to hold her at least partially accountable. It would be interesting to see whether she confesses, at long last, to exaggerating her story, or fabricating it entirely.
It would be interesting, except that her deposition will take place behind closed doors and the transcripts will be sealed, according to CNN. Unless these records are released, we may never know what Jackie revealed once sworn under oath to tell the truth.
In any case, it's gratifying that the judge rejected claims made by Jackie's lawyers that she should be exempt from testifying because the process would "re-traumatize" her. We would all like to hear the truth, but Eramo, at least, is entitled to it.
Columbia's report on the Rolling Stone debacle was published exactly one year ago today. Read my analysis of it here.