“Reckless disregard for the truth”
The drama swirling around Rolling Stone, staff writer Sabrina Erdely, and the University of Virginia continued today when Phi Kappa Psi’s UVA chapter filed a $25 million dollar lawsuit against the magazine over a (now-retracted) story claiming that a freshman girl was gang raped during a house party.
Erdely’s “A Rape on Campus” story published in November of last year, and immediately ignited a firestorm of debate over campus “rape culture.” The fraternity’s image was trashed, their house vandalized, and both the university and fraternity national chapter suffered a major hit to their reputations.
By December, however, Erdely’s account of the attack on “Jackie” began to unravel. Following investigations by law enforcement, the university, and an increasingly skeptical media, Rolling Stone published a frantic retraction—and then the lawsuits started.
More via Reuters:
The Phi Kappa Psi chapter filed the defamation lawsuit in Charlottesville, Virginia, Circuit Court against Rolling Stone and writer Sabrina Erdely, the fraternity said in a statement.
“Rolling Stone published the article with reckless disregard for the truth,” it said.
The lawsuit contends that Rolling Stone and Erdely wanted to advance a narrative of college campus sexual violence by depicting a rape, whether it was true or not, the statement said.
A spokesman for Rolling Stone could not be immediately reached for comment.
More of Phi Psi’s statement from WaPo:
“The fraternity chapter and its student and alumni members suffered extreme damage to their reputations in the aftermath of the article’s publication and continue to suffer despite the ultimate unraveling of the story,” the Phi Psi chapter said in a statement Monday. “The article also subjected the student members and their families to danger and immense stress while jeopardizing the future existence of the chapter.”
This is going to be a fun one to watch.
Earlier this year, three UVA Phi Psi alums filed an independent lawsuit against Rolling Stone; one of the men named in the lawsuit lived in the fraternity house in 2012, and he claims he has taken a personal hit to his reputation from people who assume he took part in the debunked rape. The magazine is also facing a multimillion dollar defamation lawsuit from UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo, who argues that Erdely and Rolling Stone knew Jackie was unreliable, had serious doubts about the story, and yet ran with it anyway because they were desperate to fulfill their own narrative and sell magazines.
Quick question: is there anyone connected to this mess that Rolling Stone hasn’t defamed?
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