University of Virginia associate dean of students Nicole Eramo has filed a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone over the way she was portrayed in the magazine’s controversial “A Rape on Campus” piece, which was published last November and officially retracted in April. The piece by Sabrina Rubin Erdely portrayed Eramo as the point person for the university’s inadequate response to a gang rape allegation which, it now appears, was not credible. From the suit:
To personify the University’s alleged institutional indifference to rape, Erdely and Rolling Stone cast Dean Eramo, who met with and counseled Jackie, as the chief villain of the story. Erdely and Rolling Stone claimed – both in the article and in a slew of media appearances and interviews designed to increase publicity for the article – that Dean Eramo intentionally tried to coddle Jackie to persuade her not to report her rape; that she was indifferent to Jackie’s allegations; that she discouraged Jackie from sharing her story with others; that she “abuse[d]” Jackie; that she did “nothing” in response to Jackie’s allegations; that she claimed that UV A withholds rape statistics “because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school”; that she did not report Jackie’s alleged assault to the police; that she “brushed off’ Jackie; and that she actively sought to “suppress” Jackie’s supposed gang rape.
Oddly, as Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple notes, Eramo’s suit indicates that Rolling Stone appears to have refused to apologize to her—and to have stood by its story in correspondence with her—as late as December, when publications including the Washington Post and Slate had already identified substantial problems in the piece’s reporting.
Erdely is also cited in the lawsuit for making allegedly false comments about UVa and Eramo’s response to the “rape” in media appearances after the story’s publication, including one on Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest.
The suit seeks a total of $7.85 million in damages.