UVA Fraternity Hits Rolling Stone With $25 Million Lawsuit

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University Of Virginia Lifts Suspension On Fraternity Activities
Students play football on the Madison Bowl field of the University of Virginia campus next to the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.Photo: Bloomberg/© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has filed a $25 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone over a now-discredited 9,000-word story titled “A Rape on Campus” the magazine published last November. It described the horrific 2012 gang rape of a freshman and how the school mishandled its response. But it soon became clear that the piece was, at the very least, credulous in its journalism, at least toward the young woman who said she’d been raped, who was identified only as Jackie. 

The suit accuses the magazine of “intentional, reckless, and unethical behavior.”

Shortly after publication, Phi Kappa Psi’s windows were broken, and the words “UVA Center for Rape Studies” were scrawled across its walls.

Subsequent investigations by the Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, and the Charlottesville police all contradicted the magazine’s account, revealing, among other things, that the fraternity held no party on the night in question and that the man Jackie identified as her primary attacker had never been a member of the fraternity, nor even a student at UVA.

The managing editor of Rolling Stone, Will Dana, resigned this summer. The magazine was already facing lawsuits over the article from individual members of Phi Kappa Psi and Nicole Eramo, a University of Virginia associate dean who alleges she was vilified in the piece.