When you impatiently report on a campus gang rape allegation, fail to interview the accused party and try to portray the school dean as villainous, you’re bound to end up in some hot legal water. That’s where Rolling Stone and writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely find themselves after their botched report on the University of Virginia. UVA’s dean, Nicole Eramo, is now suing the magazine for its misleading coverage.
A University of Virginia associate dean of students filed a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone on Tuesday, alleging that the magazine portrayed her as callous and indifferent to allegations of sexual assault on campus and made her the university’s “chief villain” in a now-debunked story about a fraternity gang rape.
The school is suing Rolling Stone for a cool $7.5 million, demanding justice for a report that severely damaged the school’s reputation. The accused fraternity members weren’t the only ones who suffered. The magazine altered a picture of Dean Eramo to make her seem like a monster too. These unfair characterizations are addressed in the lawsuit.
“Rolling Stone and Erdely’s highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the result of an innocent mistake,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. “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.”
Erdely’s shoddy journalism was bad enough but, to make matters worse, she faced no repercussions for her actions. As for her “apology,” it was not even directed toward the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members she tried to excoriate.
Rolling Stone needs to answer for its deeply flawed journalism. Erdely’s report has unnecessarily affected the lives of these young undergraduates and has tainted the world of investigative journalism by publishing a story before she had obtained all the facts.