Fraternity files $25m defamation suit against Rolling Stone

2015-11-10 09:54


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Richmond - The University of Virginia fraternity that was the focus of a debunked Rolling Stone article about a gang rape filed a $25m lawsuit against the magazine on Monday, saying the piece made the frat and its members "the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide".

The complaint, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, also names the story's writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, as a defendant. It is the third filed in response to the November 2014 article entitled A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Three individual fraternity members and recent graduates are suing for at least $225 000 each, and a university associate dean who claims she was portrayed as the "chief villain" is suing the magazine for more than $7.5m.

Rolling Stone spokesperson Kathryn Brenner said the magazine has no comment on the lawsuit.

The article described in chilling detail a student's account of being raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012.

It portrayed university officials as insensitive and unresponsive to the plight of the student, who was identified only as Jackie, and suggested that the attack was emblematic of a culture of sexual violence at the elite public university.

Damage was already done

The story horrified university leaders, sparked protests at the school and prompted a new round of national discussions about sexual assault on US campuses.

However, details in the lengthy narrative did not hold up under scrutiny by other media organizations. For example, Phi Kappa Psi did not host any social event at its house on the day of the alleged gang rape as the article claimed.

Additional discrepancies led Rolling Stone to commission an examination by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which said in a blistering report that Rolling Stone failed at virtually every step, from the reporting by Erdely to an editing process that included high-ranking staffers.

An investigation by Charlottesville police also found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims. Rolling Stone retracted the article, and the magazine's managing editor and Erdely both apologised. The fraternity said the damage was already done.

"These allegations did not concern harmless fraternity pranks," the fraternity said in the lawsuit. "These were allegations of ritualised and criminal gang-rape that Rolling Stone knew were the predicates for annihilation of Phi Kappa Psi and widespread persecution of its members".

The complaint alleges that the magazine set out to find a story of "graphic and violent rape" at an elite university and rejected other possible stories that were not sensational enough.

"Rolling Stone and Erdely had an agenda, and they were recklessly oblivious to the harm they would cause innocent victims in their ruthless pursuit of that agenda," the lawsuit said.

Read more on:    rolling stone magazine  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.