| CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Oct 18 Attorneys for a
former high-level official at the University of Virginia will
begin making their case on Tuesday that Rolling Stone magazine
defamed her when it published a now-disavowed story about an
alleged gang rape on campus.
The 2014 article, headlined "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal
Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," told the story of a
freshman named only as "Jackie" who described being sexually
assaulted by seven men during a 2012 fraternity party.
It set off a firestorm of protests and debate about rape on
college campuses, but an investigation by the Charlottesville,
Virginia, police found that the attack described never actually
While the incident depicted in the story never occurred, sex
assaults remain a major concern on U.S. college campuses, with
some reports estimating that one in five female students will be
victims of sex assault during their college years.
Nicole Eramo, a former associate dean of students at the
school, sued Rolling Stone, its owner Wenner Media and the
article's author, Sabrina Rubin Erderly. The lawsuit charged
that the article painted Eramo as the villain of the story,
insensitive to Jackie's pleas for justice. She is seeking $7.9
million in damages.
Rolling Stone retracted the article in April 2015, in a big
blow the magazine founded by Jann Wenner in 1967 that chronicled
the rise of the U.S. counterculture and evolved into a highly
influential voice on music, pop culture and politics.
The woman identified in the article as Jackie is expected to
testify via a video deposition during the trial, which is
expected to run for 12 days at the U.S. District Court in
Eramo's suit accuses Rolling Stone of publishing the story
"to weave a narrative that depicted (the university) as an
institution that is indifferent to rape on campus, and more
concerned with protecting its reputation than with assisting the
victims of sexual assault."
In a rebuttal, Rolling Stone's lawyers have said that the
magazine did not defame Eramo and that her claims are based on
opinions and are incapable of being proved true or false.
Court officials were set to read the 9,000-word original
story to the jury before the trial got underway with opening
arguments on Tuesday.
(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Mary Milliken)