In November Rolling Stone published a 9,000-word article that described the horrific 2012 gang rape of a University of Virginia freshman, and how the school mishandled the incident. For a few days, it seemed to be serving its purpose: The article sparked a conversation about sexual assault on campus and how schools nationwide often respond to brutal crimes with indifference. Then, as questions were raised about why the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, either failed to contact the alleged rapists or never even tried, the story morphed into a flashpoint in various other debates, from how we treat rape victims to journalism ethics to the nature of memory. Rolling Stone eventually retracted its report, and now managing editor Will Dana is leaving the magazine. Here’s a look at how the story unraveled.
November 19, 2014: Rolling Stone publishes “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”
Rolling Stone contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely begins her piece on the UVA’s ineffective handling of rape cases by introducing Jackie, a woman who says she was gang-raped in a UVA frat house on September 28, 2012, a few weeks after she arrived on campus.
Jackie, who was 18 at the time, says she was asked out by “Drew” (a pseudonym used in the article), an attractive junior she met while they were both working as lifeguards at the university pool. Drew invited her to dinner and a “date function” at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. During the party, Drew asks Jackie if she wants to go upstairs. She follows him into a pitch-black room and screams when she suddenly realizes they’re not alone:
“Shut up,” [Jackie] heard a man’s voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn’t some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they’d return to the party.
“Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
Jackie says that for the next three hours, seven men took turns raping her as Drew and another man looked on. She says one of the men, whom she recognized from her anthropology discussion group, was encouraged by the others to penetrate her with a beer bottle. “Don’t you want to be a brother?” the others tell him. “We all had to do it, so you do, too.”
She comes to after 3 a.m. and runs from the house shoeless, with her “face beaten” and her dress “spattered with blood.” Realizing that she’s lost, she calls a friend, screaming, “Something bad happened. I need you to come and find me!” Her three friends, two boys and a girl, find her outside the Phi Kappa Psi house shaking and crying. (All of their names are changed in the article.) Randall suggests going to the hospital, but the others shoot down the idea and weigh the social implications of their next move:
“Is that such a good idea?” [Jackie] recalls Cindy asking. “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years.” Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape, while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”
Ultimately, they decide not to seek help. Two weeks later, Jackie sees Drew at the pool. “I wanted to thank you for the other night,” he says. “I had a great time.”
After withdrawing from her school work and social life and buying rope to hang herself, at the end of the semester Jackie calls her mother and asks to go home. She returns to school, and toward the end of her freshman year she reports the rape to Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board. She is given three options: file a criminal complaint with the police, file a complaint with the school, or face her attackers with Eramo present to tell them how she feels. (There’s more information here about the federal investigation into UVA’s handling of sexual violence, which began in June 2011.)
Jackie is now a junior, and she’s become active in UVA’s sexual-assault education organization. In May 2014, with Drew about to graduate, she still didn’t feel ready to file a complaint, but “she badly wants to muster the courage to file criminal charges or even a civil case.” The article notes that Jackie is no longer friends with Randall, who “citing his loyalty to his own frat, declined to be interviewed” by Rolling Stone.
November 22, 2014: The Initial Response
People were outraged by the events described in the article, particularly at UVA. Facing pressure from the campus community, UVA president Teresa Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities, sororities, and Greek organizations until January 9. She also asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate Jackie’s rape, and urged students, faculty, and alumni to weigh in as the school reforms how it handles sexual assault.
Phi Kappa Psi suspended the activities of its UVA chapter the day after the article was published, and its national leadership said they would cooperate in the police investigation and launch their own internal investigation.
November 24, 2014: Questions Emerge
Richard Bradley, a former George magazine editor who was duped by Stephen Glass, writes an essay questioning the story. He says the Glass incident taught him that you should be “critical, in the best sense of that word,” about stories that just confirm your own biases. He says that as a former editor, “something about this story doesn’t feel right,” noting that it relies entirely on one unnamed source. The friends who came to Jackie’s aid weren’t interviewed, and Erdely apparently made no effort to contact the alleged rapists.
Others begin to question Jackie’s account and how it was reported. Reason’s Robby Soave wonders if the story could be a “gigantic hoax.” L.A. Times columnist Jonah Goldberg compares it to two notorious rape accusations that were proven false, saying “the media also uncritically reported Tawana Brawley’s stories and those of the accusers of the Duke lacrosse team — until the rest of the media started doing their jobs.”
November 28, 2014: Erdely Describes Her Reporting Methods
In an interview with the Washington Post, Erdely says that after deciding to write about sexual assault on campus, she spent six weeks talking to students across the country and eventually settled on UVA. She says she was introduced to Jackie by Emily Renda, a leader in UVA’s sexual-assault group. “She was absolutely bursting to tell this story,” Erdely says. “I could not believe how it poured out of her in one long narrative. She spoke so fast, I hardly had a chance to ask her a question. She was dying to share it.”
Erdely says she spent weeks corroborating Jackie’s account and finds her “completely credible,” but the Post presses her on why she didn’t speak to other sources:
Some elements of the story, however, are apparently too delicate for Erdely to talk about now. She won’t say, for example, whether she knows the names of Jackie’s alleged attackers or whether in her reporting she approached “Drew,” the alleged ringleader, for comment. She is bound to silence about those details, she said, by an agreement with Jackie, who “is very fearful of these men, in particular Drew… . She now considers herself an empty shell. So when it comes down to identifying them, she has a very hard time with that.”
Erdely is similarly evasive when asked on Slate’s Double X podcast if she knows the alleged attackers identities or tried to contact them:
I reached out to them in multiple ways. They were kind of hard to get in touch with because [the fraternity’s] contact page was pretty outdated. But I wound up speaking … I wound up getting in touch with their local president, who sent me an email, and then I talked with their sort of, their national guy, who’s kind of their national crisis manager. They were both helpful in their own way, I guess.
December 1, 2014: Rolling Stone Confirms That It Did Not Speak to the Men
When asked about the alleged assailants, Sean Woods, who edited the Rolling Stone piece, tells the Washington Post, “We did not talk to them. We could not reach them.” However, he says they “verified their existence” by talking to Jackie’s friends. “I’m satisfied that these guys exist and are real. We knew who they were.”
December 2, 2014: The Magazine Stands by Jackie, and Its Own Reporting
In a follow-up to their podcast, Slate’s Allison Benedikt and Hanna Rosin explore why Erdely didn’t include a response from Jackie’s alleged attackers. Woods tells them he’s “done talking about the story” and adds this statement from the magazine: “Through our extensive reporting and fact-checking, we found Jackie to be entirely credible and courageous and we are proud to have given her disturbing story the attention it deserves.”
Benedikt and Rosin say they also reached out to Jackie’s friends. They report that she got upset when Erdely wanted to know more about her attackers, and reconsidered going public.
December 5, 2014: The Story Begins to Unravel
A Washington Post report raises major questions about the narrative presented in Rolling Stone.
- Phi Kappa Psi says in a statement that it “did not have a date function or a social event during the weekend of September 28th, 2012,” and none of its members worked at the pool during that time. While the article suggests the gang rape was part of an initiation ritual, the fraternity does not have pledges in the fall.
- Jackie’s friends tell the Post that they’re beginning to doubt her account. They say in the past week, she identified one of her alleged attackers for the first time. They discovered the student belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name was ever in Phi Kappa Psi.
- A man with that name tells the Post he worked at the pool and knew Jackie’s name, but had never met her in person. He was never a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
- The student identified as “Andy” in the Rolling Stone article confirms that Jackie called and said “something bad happened” in the fall of 2012. He and two other friends ran to meet her about a mile from the fraternity houses. He says she was “really upset, really shaken up” but did not appear to be physically injured. He claims Jackie told them she had been forced to have oral sex with a group of men. He says they offered to get her help, but she said she just wanted to go back to the dorm. She asked them to spend the night with her, and they did. Andy denies that Jackie’s dress was bloody, that she named a specific frat, or that they debated the social price of her next move.
- Emily Renda says she met Jackie in fall of 2013 and they instantly bonded because they had both been raped at a fraternity party. She claims Jackie initially told her she was attacked by five men, then changed the number to seven months later.
- Rachel Soltis, Jackie’s former roommate, says she noticed emotional and physical changes in her during the fall of 2012. “She was withdrawn, depressed and couldn’t wake up in the mornings,” says Soltis, adding that she’s convinced Jackie was sexually assaulted.
- Jackie says she asked Erdely to be taken out of the article at one point, but she refused and said the article was going forward. She says she agreed to participate as long as she could fact-check her parts in the story.
- Jackie tells the Post she doesn’t know if her attacker was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, but she knows the attack took place in that house because a year later, “my friend pointed out the building to me and said that’s where it happened.” “I never asked for this” attention, she adds. “What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen. It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened — every day for the last two years.”
December 5, 2014: Rolling Stone Releases a Statement, Gets in Even More Trouble
Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana releases a lengthy statement, which concludes, “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.” Following claims that the magazine was blaming a rape victim for its own shoddy reporting, the final paragraph is revised to say:
We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie’s request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening.
December 7, 2014: Jackie’s Former Suitemate Comes to Her Defense
Emily Clark, who shared a suite with Jackie during her freshman year, writes an op-ed in the UVA newspaper describing how she became increasingly depressed during fall of 2012, eventually going home right before finals. “Sometime that year I remember her letting it slip to me that she had had a terrible experience at a party,” Clark writes. “I remember her telling me that multiple men had assaulted her at this party. She didn’t say anything more.” She continues:
However, the articles released in the past few days have been troubling to me, and the responses to them even more so. While I cannot say what happened that night, and I cannot prove the validity of every tiny aspect of her story to you, I can tell you that this story is not a hoax, a lie or a scheme. Something terrible happened to Jackie at the hands of several men who have yet to receive any repercussions.
December 10, 2014: Jackie’s Friends Suggest “Drew” Is a Fabrication
The Washington Post unveils another shocking twist: Randall, Andy, and Cindy, the three students who rushed to help Jackie on September 28, 2012, say details she gave them about Drew, her date that night, led them to question whether he was real.
Randall says he befriended Jackie soon after they arrived on campus. She was interested in a romantic relationship, but he said he wanted to remain friends. A short time later, Jackie began telling her three friends about Drew, a handsome junior from chemistry class who had a crush on her. They asked for the upperclassmen’s number, and started exchanging text messages with him. In texts provided to the Post, he raves about “this super smart hot” freshman who shares his love of the band Coheed and Cambria.
Drew laments that he really likes Jackie, but she’s interested in someone else. “Get this she said she likes some other 1st year guy who dosnt like her and turned her down but she wont date me cause she likes him,” he writes. “She cant turn my down fro some nerd 1st yr. she said this kid is smart and funny and worth it.” Randall is now convinced that he’s the first year.
Jackie’s friends were never able to locate Drew on social media or UVA’s database. The Post confirmed no student by that name has ever been enrolled in the university.
The texts also included photos of Drew, which Randall provided to the paper. While his name does not match the one Jackie provided, the Post managed to track him down. He says he’s a high-school classmate of Jackie’s but he “never really spoke to her.” He has not visited UVA in at least six years, he is not in a fraternity, and he was in another state at an athletic event on the night of the alleged rape.
Randall says that after the alleged gang rape, Drew wrote him an email, “passing along praise that Jackie apparently had for him.”
While Rolling Stone says Randall declined to be interviewed “citing his loyalty to his own frat,” he says he was never contacted and would have talked to the magazine.
Andy and Cindy say Erdely didn’t contact them either. Last week Jackie revealed the name of her attacker to a different group of friends for the first time. Andy, Cindy, and Randall say they’ve never heard the name.
While the three friends are portrayed as shockingly callous in the original article, they say they did everything they could to help Jackie that night. “She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before, and I really hope I never have to again. … If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
The Post notes, “The article’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not respond to requests for comment this week.”
The newest revelations mean that someone is lying about Erdely’s attempts to reach out to Randall. Slate’s Hanna Rosin explains:
That could mean one of two things: Jackie could have given Erdely fake contact information for Randall and then posed as Randall herself, sending the reporter that email in which he supposedly declined to participate in the story. Erdely also could have lied about trying to contact Randall. Rolling Stone might have hinted at this possibility in its “Note to Our Readers” when it referred to a “friend of Jackie’s (who we were told would not speak to Rolling Stone)” but later spoke to the Washington Post. That would take Erdely a big step beyond just being gullible and failing to check her facts, moving this piece in the direction of active wrongdoing.
December 14, 2014: Jackie’s Friends Dispute Rolling Stone’s Account, Using Their Real Names
The students identified in the Rolling Stone piece as “Andy,” “Cindy,” and “Randall” put their names to their version of events in an interview with the Associated Press. Alex Stock, 20, Kathryn Hendley, 20, and Ryan Duffin, 20, said that after getting a frantic call from Jackie on the night of the alleged rape, they rushed to meet her at a picnic table outside UVA’s Fitzhugh dorm.
Kathryn Hendley disputed Rolling Stone’s description of her as a “self-declared hookup queen” who said Jackie shouldn’t go to the police because “we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.” “I’m offended that she made me out to be this really awful, self-serving person, which is really not based on any personality traits that I actually have,” Hendley told the Washington Post. In her AP interview, Hendley says that when she arrived at the picnic table, Jackie didn’t want her to be part of the conversation about what to do next, so she watched the discussion from afar.
Ryan Duffin says that when they found Jackie, “it looked like she had been crying … Her lip was quivering, her eyes were darting around. And right then, I put two and two together. I knew she had been on this date and people don’t usually look like that after a date.” She told her friends that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men. “My first reaction was, ‘We need to go to police,’” Duffin said. “I wanted to go to police immediately. I was really forceful on that, actually. And I almost took it to calling (the police) right there.” He said he pulled out his phone and was about to call 911, “but she didn’t want to and,” he thought, “‘I can’t do that if she doesn’t want to do it.’”
Duffin says he even talked to his RA about the incident several days later, without using Jackie’s name, to see if he should call the police anyway. The RA told him he could encourage her to contact the authorities, but it was her decision.
Alex Stock confirmed both friends’ accounts. “Jackie’s response was, ‘I don’t want to,’” Stock said. “‘I don’t want to do that right now. I just want to go to bed.’”
As seen in the video below, Duffin said he still wants to believe Jackie is telling the truth, but he doesn’t know where he stands. “The thing is, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because whether this one incident is true, there’s still a huge problem with sexual assault in the United States.”
All three say Rolling Stone never contacted them before the article was published last month, but Erdely recently reached out to them and said she was re-reporting the story. Hendley also said Erdely apologized to her for how she was portrayed in the story.
Melissa Bruno, a spokeswoman for Rolling Stone, told the Huffington Post that the magazine “is conducting a thorough internal review of the reporting, editing, and fact-checking” of Erdely’s story. Apparently, this effort is separate from Erdely’s. Two of the friends told the Post that they’ve been contacted by a different Rolling Stone reporter in recent days.
December 14, 2014: Jackie’s Other Friend, Alex Pinkleton, Describes Her Conversations With Erdely
In a separate interview on Sunday, Jackie’s friend Alex Pinkleton (not Alex Stock, who responded to Jackie’s call for help) said she still believes Jackie was raped, but she isn’t happy with how the story was reported. Pinkleton, a fellow rape survivor who was quoted in the Rolling Stone piece, told CNN’s Reliable Sources that she thinks Erdely’s “intentions were good” in writing about sexual assault on campus, but “the job was done poorly.”
“I am upset with that aspect of it, but I also know that she was trying to come from a point of advocacy,” Pinkleton said. “But as a reporter, you can’t be, like, an advocate and support a story and listen to it and think everything is true and then report on it without trying to figure out if it’s true. My job as an advocate was never to question Jackie’s story or question the details, because I didn’t need to. But the role that she’s in as a reporter, she needed to do that.”
Pinkleton said she too has been contacted by Erdely following the controversy, but she has yet to get back to her.
December 15, 2014: Phone Records Raise More Doubts About “Drew”
Jackie’s friends shared more details about how they contacted “Drew,” the man she claims she was on a date with the night she was raped.
According to the Daily Caller, the name she gave them for the attractive upperclassman who had a crush on her was “Haven Monahan.” No one by that name was enrolled on campus, or even lived in the area.
She encouraged them to text him, and eventually they had three different phone numbers for Haven. Research by the Washington Times determined that all three numbers are registered to internet services that allow people to text without a phone number or redirect calls to different numbers.
Ryan Duffin said he received no response when he texted the first number Jackie gave him. Someone identifying himself as Haven contacted him from a different phone, claiming he was using a friend’s phone because his wasn’t working. Later Haven started texting the friends from a third number, which he said was his BlackBerry. Previously, the Washington Post determined that a photo sent from that number was of one of Jackie’s high school classmates, who was not in contact with her at the time and is not named Haven.
December 22, 2014: Rolling Stone Asks the Columbia Journalism School to Conduct an Independent Review of Its Report
Following unconfirmed reports that Rolling Stone was re-reporting its campus rape piece, editor and publisher Jann Wenner announced that the magazine has asked the Columbia Journalism School to investigate the matter. The following editor’s note will appear in the next print issue of Rolling Stone:
In RS 1223, Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote about a brutal gang rape of a young woman named Jackie at a party in a University of Virginia frat house [“A Rape on Campus”]. Upon its publication, the article generated worldwide attention and praise for shining a light on the way the University of Virginia and many other colleges and universities across the nation have tried to sweep the issue of sexual assault on campus under the rug. Then, two weeks later, The Washington Post and other news outlets began to question Jackie’s account of the evening and the accuracy of Erdely’s reporting. Immediately, we posted a note on our website, disclosing the concerns. We have asked the Columbia Journalism School to conduct an independent review – headed by Dean Steve Coll and Dean of Academic Affairs Sheila Coronel – of the editorial process that led to the publication of this story. As soon as they are finished, we will publish their report.
January 12, 2015: Police Say They Have No Reason to Believe That Rape Took Place at Phi Kappa Psi
As the spring semester started at UVA, the school reinstated its chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, saying police have cleared the frat, for now. Charlottesville police Captain Gary Pleasants confirmed that while they’re still investigating the case, “We found no basis to believe that an incident occurred at that fraternity, so there’s no reason to keep them suspended.”
“We are pleased that the University and the Charlottesville Police Department have cleared our fraternity of any involvement in this case,” said Phi Psi President Stephen Scipione. “In today’s 24-hour news cycle, we all have a tendency to rush to judgment without having all of the facts in front of us. As a result, our fraternity was vandalized, our members ostracized based on false information.”
March 23, 2015: The Results of the Police Investigation
Charlottesville, Virginia, police announced at a press conference that their five-month investigation turned up no evidence to corroborate Jackie’s story. “We’re not able to conclude to any substantive degree that an incident occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house or any other fraternity house, for that matter,” said Police Chief Timothy J. Longo. “That doesn’t mean something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie … we’re just not able to gather sufficient facts to determine what that is.”
According to the six-page outline of the police investigation:
- Jackie was referred to Dean Nicole Eramo due to poor grades and told her on May 20, 2013, that she was sexually assaulted in a UVA fraternity house. Her description of the incident was not consistent with the Rolling Stone article.
- In April 2014 Jackie said she was hit in the face with a bottle after she was taunted by four men on campus. The incident is described as “payback” in the Rolling Stone article. Jackie told police she was hit by a glass bottle, and her roommate helped her pull glass from her face. The roommate denied this and said the injury was an abrasion.
- Jackie said she called her mother from a parking garage after she was hit by the bottle. Phone records showed no calls were made around that time.
- Jackie met with police several times and refused to provide any information about the alleged sexual assault.
- Police found no evidence that there was a party at Phi Kappa Psi on September 28, 2012.
- Police were unable to find any evidence that “Haven Monahan,” the man Jackie said she was going out with on the night of the rape, is a real person.
The police investigation has been suspended, not closed. “I can’t prove that something didn’t happen, and there may come a point in time in which this survivor, or this complaining party or someone else, may come forward with some information that might help us move this investigation further,” said Chief Longo.
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone said its independent investigation into its story will be published in April.
Jackie has no comment on the new revelations:
April 5, 2015: Rolling Stone Retracts the Story
After conducting an independent review at Rolling Stone’s request, a three-person team from Columbia Journalism School released their findings in a 12,000-word report. They concluded:
Rolling Stone’s repudiation of the main narrative in “A Rape on Campus” is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable. The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking. The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine’s editors to reconsider publishing Jackie’s narrative so prominently, if at all. The published story glossed over the gaps in the magazine’s reporting by using pseudonyms and by failing to state where important information had come from.
The Columbia journalists found that contrary to what Jackie, Erdely, and Rolling Stone have suggested at various points, she never asked to be removed from the story, and there was no agreement that the magazine would not attempt to speak with her alleged attacker.
Rolling Stone has retracted its story and apologized:
We are also committing ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report. We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students. Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings.
Erdely did the same. “Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience,” she said, in part. “I want to offer my deepest apologies: to Rolling Stone’s readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues, to the U.V.A. community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”
Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s publisher, said no one involved in the story’s publication will be fired. The Columbia review notes that the retraction only concerns the magazine’s reporting, and”cannot be understood as evidence about what actually happened to Jackie on the night of Sept. 28, 2012. If Jackie was attacked and, if so, by whom, cannot be established definitively from the evidence available.”
May 13, 2015: UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo Sues
Dean Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, is suing Rolling Stone, Wenner Media, and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely for portraying her as the “chief villain” in the now-debunked article. The suit says the article suggests Eramo “did nothing” and tried to suppress “Jackie’s alleged gang rape to protect UVA’s reputation,” when in actuality she quickly arranged a meeting with police, introduced her to sexual assault support groups on campus, and told her to encourage other alleged Phi Kappa Psi rape victims to come forward so the university could take action against the fraternity.
“Rolling Stone and Erdely’s highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the result of an innocent mistake,” says the suit, according to the Washington Post. “They were the result of a wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts.”
Eramo says the Rolling Stone story damaged her reputation and caused her physical and emotional distress, which contributed to surgical complications she suffered while being treated for breast cancer. She is seeking more than $7.5 million in damages.
July 29, 2015: Former UVA Fraternity Members Sue Rolling Stone
George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler, former Phi Kappa Psi members who graduated in 2013, have filed a defamation suit against Rolling Stone, Wenner Media, and Sabrina Rubin Erdely. They say they suffered “vicious and hurtful attacks” because details in the article incorrectly led people to assume they were rapists.
“Upon release of the article, family friends, acquaintances, co-workers and reporters easily matched (Elias) as one of the alleged attackers and, among other things, interrogated him, humiliated him, and scolded him,” the lawsuit says, adding that Hadford and Fowler “suffered similar attacks.” They are suing on three counts and seeking at least $75,000 in damages per count.
July 29, 2015: Managing Editor Will Dana Is Leaving Rolling Stone
The magazine revealed that Dana’s last day will be August 7, and according to the New York Times he “is not leaving for another job, and his successor has not been named.” When asked if his exit has something to do with the campus rape article, publisher Jann Wenner said via a spokeswoman, “Many factors go into a decision like this.”
“After 19 years at Rolling Stone, I have decided that it is time to move on,” Dana said in a statement. “It has been a great ride and I loved it even more than I imagined I would. I am as excited to see where the magazine goes next as I was in the summer of 1978 when I bought my first issue.”
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.