Admittedly, I have a special interest in the University of Virginia given that (i) I am a graduate of both the The College of Liberal Arts as an undergraduate the School of Law, and (ii) some ten relatives and past in-laws hold UVA degrees, including three of my siblings and one of my daughters. I also belonged to a fraternity during my UVA days. Hence, I always double check those who would malign "The University" as we call it without justification (like some Virginia Tech alumni I know). But the heinous Rolling Stone article that has now been condemned by the Columbia School of journalism and even retracted by Rolling Stone indeed set new lows in unfounded attacks. Now, Rolling Stone is reaping the fruits of its irresponsible journalism - if that term can even be applied - as what is the first of possibly several lawsuits has been filed. Huffington Post looks at the first multimillion dollar lawsuit. Here are highlights:
A University of Virginia dean who played a major role in Rolling Stone's now-retracted rape piece is suing the magazine for defamation.
Nicole Eramo, an associate dean of students at UVA who handles sexual assault cases on campus, is seeking more than $7.5 million in damages from Wenner Media, Rolling Stone's parent company. Eramo alleges that the November 2014 piece unfairly portrayed her as "indifferent" to the alleged victim's tale. Eramo is also suing the magazine and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who wrote the controversial piece.
"The portrayal of Dean Eramo in 'A Rape on Campus' and in Erdely and Rolling Stone's subsequent public statements, are categorically false," the suit reads. "Indeed, publicly available information demonstrates that the highly disparaging claims about Dean Eramo are all untrue."
"A Rape on Campus" detailed the alleged sexual assault of a UVA student referred to in the article as only "Jackie." In the piece, Jackie claims she was raped and humiliated by several members of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. The story alleges that Eramo encouraged Jackie not to report the crime because "nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school."
The piece sent shockwaves through the campus. The university asked for a criminal investigation into the matter and suspended all fraternities on campus.
However, reports from The Washington Post and other news outlets called into question some of the story's most shocking elements. Friends of Jackie claimed that her account of the assault changed repeatedly over time. The Post also found that Jackie's description of one of the main fraternity members involved in the incident didn't match anyone in Phi Kappa Psi.
Rolling Stone backed away from the piece after the doubts emerged. After a lengthy investigation by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, the article was retracted.
Rolling Stone declined a request for comment to HuffPost.
Sadly, in my view, Rolling Stone wanted a sensational article and really did not care if it was true or not.