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Rolling Stone Found Liable for UVA Rape Article

  • VOA News

University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo leaves federal court with her attorney Tom Clare, right, after closing arguments in her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine in Charlottesville, Virginia, Nov. 1, 2016. A jury ruled in favor of Eramo on Friday, November 4.

University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo leaves federal court with her attorney Tom Clare, right, after closing arguments in her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine in Charlottesville, Virginia, Nov. 1, 2016. A jury ruled in favor of Eramo on Friday, November 4.

A U.S. jury has decided against Rolling Stone magazine in a defamation case regarding a discredited story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia.

Court documents say the jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, ruled in favor of Nicole Eramo, a school official who was accused of indifference in the 2014 magazine article "A Rape on Campus."

The jury said the magazine and the reporter on the story, Sabrina Erdely, were liable for defamation, with damages to be assessed later. Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages.

"The jury's verdict is a complete vindication of Nicole Eramo and a complete repudiation of Rolling Stone's and Ms. Erdely's false and defamatory article," Eramo's lawyer Libby Locke said. "We are looking forward to the damages phase of the trial."

Rolling Stone responded to the verdict with statement acknowledging "journalistic mistakes" in an attempt to present a complicated issue from a survivor's perspective.

The lawsuit accused Rolling Stone of recklessly and willfully disregarding the facts.

No evidence of rape

The story published in November 2014 alleged that a group of fraternity members gang-raped a female student, identified in the story as "Jackie." The story sparked outrage across the nation, and UVA suspended all fraternities on campus in response.

But over the weeks following the publication of the story, the claims were questioned and local police found no evidence that the rape had occurred.

Eramo said she had been portrayed as "the villain of the story." The article described her as having discouraged the victim from taking the case to the police.

The jury also found that the reporter had not followed journalistic procedure because she had not sought comment from the men identified as the attackers.

Story a "journalistic failure"

A Columbia University investigation of the story resulted in a report calling "A Rape on Campus" a "journalistic failure."

Rolling Stone issued a retraction of the story in April 2015, soon after the Columbia University report.

In addition to the Eramo lawsuit, Rolling Stone faces a separate $25 million lawsuit brought by Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity implicated in the story. The trial is set to begin next year.

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