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Jury Finds Rolling Stone Liable for Defamation in ‘Jackie’ Story

Jury awarded UVA dean $3 million.

Rolling Stone magazine, as well as its publisher and reporter were found liable for defamation on Friday over its debunked story about a woman named “Jackie” who claimed she was gang raped at a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity.

In the November 2014 story, “Jackie” provided a gruesome description of how she was beaten and raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. Shortly after the article’s release, however, it was discredited. Police could not find evidence of the assault, and it soon came out that the reporter never spoke to “Jackie’s” alleged assailants.

In the defamation lawsuit, UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo claimed she was portrayed by the magazine as callous and insensitive to the plight of the alleged rape victim, reports CNN Money. She claimed that as a result, she received threats and was unable to find work as a sexual assault prevention advocate.

The jury found in Eramo’s favor. She sought $7.5 million in damages, and the jury awarded her $3 million—$2 million from the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and $1 million from Rolling Stone, reports the Washington Post.

Eramo’s attorneys argued that Rolling Stone had a preconceived narrative about what happened to “Jackie” and disregarded any evidence to the contrary.

In late October, part of Eramo’s lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge who noted that jurors didn’t think the story implied she was a “false friend” to the alleged victim in the story and said Eramo provided no evidence of defamation by implication.

Campus Safety has previously reported on the shortcomings in the story.

This article has been updated to include the damages awarded.

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