Rolling Stone is definitely having a bad day. The magazine is now getting sued for $25 million for defamation by the fraternity that was implicated in a story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia (UVA) in 2012.
After reporters started digging into the salacious facts asserted within the original story, it became clear that Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article about the horrific rape was a complete fabrication.
The University of Virginia (UVA) chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is seeking $25 million in damages in an attempt to clear its name from a story that Rolling Stone published last year claiming that members of the fraternity participated in a gang rape in the house during a party hosted by the fraternity.
The fraternity claims that Rolling Stone had an agenda, looking to push a sensational story about campus rape, and that the magazine rejected accounts of real sexual abuse in order to run a story from an unreliable source without verifying any of the major facts asserted in her account.
Fact checkers at the Washington Post and the Columbia University journalism school found that most of the pieces of the story, which has since been retracted, were completely fabricated or couldn’t be independently verified.
Some of the discrepancies of the story include:
- Phi Kappa Psi didn’t host a party on the night in question.
- The student who was named as the main attacker didn’t attend U-Va, nor did he belong to the fraternity.
- There wasn’t a gang rape that occurred at the fraternity.
In the lawsuit, the fraternity claims that Rolling Stone knew that the girl who claimed she was raped was an unreliable source, but they printed her story without attempting to verify her claims. They also claim that the publication was seeking for a sensationalized story, which fueled the poor editorial decisions leading up to its’ publication.
Rolling Stone set out in advance to find a sensational story of graphic and violent rape, searched for such a story at elite universities, and rejected other possible stories because the sexual assaults they portrayed were too ‘normal.’ Rolling Stone endorsed and encouraged [Sabrina Rubin] Erdely’s efforts to troll elite American college campuses in search of a sensational and graphic rape narrative, and rejected potential stories from universities such as Yale that lacked the sensational quality Rolling Stone sought. Rolling Stone and Erdely had an agenda, and they were recklessly oblivious to the harm they would cause innocent victims in their ruthless pursuit of that agenda.”
A hearing is scheduled for November 13.