Special Reports

UVa Administrator Wins Defamation Case Against Rolling Stone


University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo has won the case against Rolling Stone magazine. The dean sued the publication for libel after it released a story about a group sexual assault in the school without proper investigation of the facts.

It was previously reported that Rolling Stone magazine published an article claiming that several members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the school had raped a woman named Jackie. The act was said to have happened during a chapter house party as part of an initiation rite.

However, as other journalists checked the claims, they found major discrepancies. This led to Rolling Stone issuing multiple apologies for the story. The now-retracted article, which was published on Nov. 19, 2014, was written by Sabrina Erdely.

The retraction of the University of Virginia sexual assault story was recently debated in federal court. UVa dean Nicole Eramo sued Rolling Stone for libel.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Eramo argued in court that the article was factually wrong and was based on assumptions that administrators like her are not helpful to rape victims. The dean is asking for $7.5 million.

The Washington Post added that the 10-member jury was able to conclude that Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was guilty of defamation "with actual malice." The magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, was found to be responsible for defaming the UVa administrator as well.

"In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor, we overlooked reporting paths and made journalistic mistakes that we are committed to never making again," Rolling Stone said in a statement after the verdict. "We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms. Eramo."

"It is our deep hope that our failings do not deflect from the pervasive issues discussed in the piece, and that reporting on sexual assault cases ultimately results in campus policies that better protect our students."

In another report by The Washington Post, it was revealed that the jury has awarded $3 million in damages to UVa dean Nicole Eramo. $2 million will be from the journalist, Erdely, while $1 million will be from Rolling Stone.

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