Opening statements set in trial on
discredited Rolling Stone rape story
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[October 18, 2016]
By Gary Robertson
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) - 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
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 occurred.
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.
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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 Charlottesville.
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
(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Mary Milliken)
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