Rolling Stone settles last law suit involving UVA rape accusations in controversial article

28 Feb

Rolling Stones magazine has always been known for taking risks and creating controversy; having bold articles and crazy, intriguing stories within the pages. Back in 2014, according to this article, the magazine had published a 9,000 word story of alleged institutional indifference to sexual assault survivors and how sexual assault cases are commonly mishandled especially on college campuses. She told the account of a woman who said she had been raped while at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. Now, two different lawsuits are occurring due to the article getting published.

The article was named “A Rape on Campus,” based off of the account of a student named “Jackie,” who accused a few boys that were a part of the fraternity with gang rape. She described it in detail in the article mentioning things like how the girl was taken to a bedroom in the fraternity and raped by some of the members as part of their initiation. However, her account was invalidated when Rolling Stones magazine said it didn’t “seek comment from seven men accused of the rape.”

A preceeding associate dean at the University of Virginia, Nicole Eramo, claimed that the controversial magazine portrayed her as unconcerned about sexual assault victims. In the end, Eramo was given 2 million dollars; $1 million from the magazine and $1 million from the reporter named Sabrina Rubin Erdely. She sue the reporter because it was around the knowledge that Erdely had reason for doubt. The source of the story was blamed and how they didn’t stop reporting on the administrator and this was seen as a matter of malice. After the story was published, Eramo began to receive death threats about the untrue story. She felt that her reputation was displayed as untrue and received a lot of backlash for a story that was just made up.

The court ruling was appealed by the magazine in April of 2017 and the two parties ended up settling on an undisclosed amount of money out of court.

“Juries on occasion find in favor of public figure plaintiffs, such as in the Rolling Stone case in Virginia,” he continued. “And appeals courts, including recently in North Carolina and South Carolina, have affirmed actual malice jury verdicts. The standard helps differentiate purposeful conduct that spreads a defamatory falsehood from mistakes that, if punished, would have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and the press.”

It doesn’t stop there. Later down the road in June of 2017, the University of Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity sued Rolling Stone magazine for $25 for being accused in the article for gang rape, which was a false accusation. The magazine only ended up paying the members $1.65 million.

It is believed that Jackie may have imagined up parts of the story in order to win over the interest of a student whom she had affections towards and did it to gain attention. Jackie later said that she even believed parts that she had made up because her story was so convincing.

This article became the most read non-celebrity article in Rolling Stone’s 49 year history as a magazine. Although the story meant to bring light to an important subject and crisis in the US, it was portrayed poorly through the story published as it didn’t have all the facts and truth it needed to be a valid account of a real problem. However, shortly after the article, UVA was named the number one party school in America, which is almost just ironic. If the publisher would have gotten her information from a trustworthy source, her story might have been very successful. However, due to poor judgement, people’s lives were affected and reputations were put into bad light.

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