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Phi Kappa Psi Sues Rolling Stone, Writer Over Discredited Campus Rape Article

Phi Kappa Psi Sues Rolling Stone, Writer Over Discredited Campus Rape Article

“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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Comments

I hope that lying shitrag gets driven out of business. It’s poison.

    broomhandle in reply to Paul. | November 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    And let’s not forget that this shitrag is the same shitrag that glorified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Quick question: is there anyone connected to this mess that Rolling Stone hasn’t defamed?
__________________

Jackie.

They ought to be suing the university, and its president personally, as well over their actions.

Every fraternity on campus has cause to sue the university and its president.

    Lee Jan in reply to Aarradin. | November 9, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Would have liked to see those hate filled prof a Duke sued for slandering the La Crosse players.
    And next on my bucket list s the lawsuit against Politico..

    stevewhitemd in reply to Aarradin. | November 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    While I agree with the sentiment, I suspect the fraternity members and chapter not suing the university because a) they have to finish and graduate b) they have to survive for the next generation of members c) the university president didn’t personally defame them and d) the university (the lawyers will claim) had an “obligation”, in the face of a rape allegation (that the police didn’t even believe) to do as they did.

    No, RS is the low-hanging fruit here.

    Estragon in reply to Aarradin. | November 10, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Completely incorrect. If you went to law school, demand a refund.

Jackie needs to be expelled and criminally prosecuted.

    Estragon in reply to LSBeene. | November 10, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Jackie was already out of school by the time the story appeared.

    What do you propose to prosecute her for? She never filed a police report, or even a formal complaint with the university. She didn’t even claim Phi Kappa was the site of her alleged attacked, only that a friend told her later that was where it must have been. So what is her crime, lying to a Rolling Stone reporter?

    And there is no real civil case against her, either. Even the men she “identified” turned out not to exist. And she’s a nutty college dropout anyway, what would be the point of suing?

    Milhouse in reply to LSBeene. | November 10, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Criminally prosecuted?! For what? It’s not a crime to lie to reporters, no matter how often they arrogantly refer to themselves as a “fourth estate” (while usually being unable to name the first three).

Eugene Volokh analyzed the legal issues earlier this year – http://wapo.st/1ODASXc – and concluded it was unlikely the fraternity could sue due to the probable number of active members. When a few unnamed members of a group are defamed, the group itself can only claim defamation if it is so small that all members would be suspected.

If either “Drew” or the alleged member of her Anthropology discussion group who took part in the alleged attack had proven to be real people, they would have had a defamation case – but it appears both men were fictional, Jackie just made them up.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Estragon. | November 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    There might be an issue of the fraternity supposedly deliberately covering it up.

    I think it was claimed not only that this rape happened, but that everyone knew about it. The fraternity was closed, after all.

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