Jury Awards UVA Administrator $3 Million In <em>Rolling Stone</em> Defamation Suit

Jury Awards UVA Administrator $3 Million In Rolling Stone Defamation Suit

A jury awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3 million in damages on Monday for the way she was portrayed in a false story published in Rolling Stone magazine about a gang rape.

Last week, a jury found Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely liable for defamation with malice for vilifying UVA administrator Nicole Eramo in a 9,000-word story entitled “A Rape On Campus,” which centered around a student only identified as “Jackie,” who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity house in 2012.

Within days of its publication in November 2014, law enforcement officials found inconsistencies with Jackie’s story and eventually determined no event occurred the way Jackie claimed. On December 5, 2014, Rolling Stone republished the story with an editor’s note stating the publication was aware of the inconsistencies in Jackie’s story.

Because Rolling Stone refused to fully retract the fabricated story, and instead effectively republished it in its entirety with only short note appended, the jury also found the magazine and publisher Jann Wenner’s media company liable for malice.

Last April, the Columbia Journalism Review published an autopsy dissecting the details of the case. It determined that the mistakes Erdely made in her reporting and Rolling Stone’s failures to properly fact-check and edit it were an avoidable failure.

Eramo sued for $7.5 million for being portrayed as indifferent towards Jackie’s plight in the story, as her job at the time was to oversee sexual assault accusations. In her testimony on Monday, Eramo said she contemplated suicide after the story broke, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I just wanted to disappear,” Eramo said. “I didn’t know how it was going to be okay.”

The jury awarded the UVA administrator $2 million in damages from Erdeley and $1 million from Rolling Stone and Wenner Media.

Rolling Stone is currently facing a $25 million defamation lawsuit from the UVA fraternity whose house was where Jackie claimed she was raped.

Bre Payton is a staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter.
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