The Volokh Conspiracy
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A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.
The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article's publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo.
The $7.5 million lawsuit centered on Erdely's 9,000-word article titled "A Rape on Campus." The article appeared online in late Nov. 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine's December 2014 issue.
The story opened with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape that went viral online and sent shock waves across the U-Va. campus community. But within days of the article's publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015.
Eramo's lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine's portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair….
The case continues this week as the jury will consider damages and hear additional evidence from Eramo and her lawyers about how she was affected by the actions of Rolling Stone. Eramo originally asked for $7.5 million but can ask for a different sum after the verdict.
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