After two investigations — one by the Charlottesville, Virginia Police Department and a second by the Columbia University School of Journalism — debunked the claims made by Rolling Stone magazine of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, the frat is firing back.
The Washington Post reported:
The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at the University of Virginia filed a $25 million lawsuit Monday against Rolling Stone magazine, which published an article in 2014 that alleged a freshman was gang raped at the house during a party.
The lawsuit focuses on a Rolling Stone article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which detailed a harrowing attack on a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012. The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described how Jackie was raped by seven men while two others watched in a second floor bedroom while a fraternity party raged downstairs. The article alleged that the attack was part of a hazing ritual at the long-time U-Va. fraternity.
The Washington Post found significant discrepancies in the Rolling Stone account, including that the fraternity did not host a party that night in 2012 and that a student identified by Jackie as her main attacker was never a member of the fraternity and did not attend U-Va.
“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.”
The fraternity’s action is the second lawsuit filed against Rolling Stone arising from the same article. The Post reported:
The magazine also faces a $7.5 million federal lawsuit filed by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. associate dean who assists sexual assault survivors on campus and who alleges that she was vilified in the Rolling Stone account.
The Rolling Stone story was simply too good to check. It perfectly advanced the narrative — featuring brutal, predatory rich kids (from a southern school, no less), indifferent administrators, and a devastated victim. And, like many of the “poster child” campus rape cases of the last two years, it was fundamentally false. If campus rape is such an epidemic, why are poster kids so hard to find?
Although the lawsuit was certainly a setback to Rolling Stone, to others it was good news.
Good. Take alleged libelersto cleaners: UVa Fraternity Falsely Accused of Rape Sues @RollingStone for $25 Million https://t.co/7sH3iFb5ky
— #JeSuisJuive (@lamblock) November 10, 2015
@b_fung why is this a surprise? I am just surprised it took them so long. — r subramanian (@randomsubu) November 9, 2015
@b_fung @TonyRomm Good luck to the frat. Rolling Stone acted in a reckless manner without concern.
— Brent Ruhkamp (@Ruhsviews) November 9, 2015
@b_fung Good. It was reckless and irresponsible reporting that hurt the cause it was trying to help — Cathy Sloan (@cathysloanva) November 9, 2015
Rolling Stone should know by now that if a story seems too sensational to be true, it probably is.
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