Monday, November 09, 2015

U-Va. Fraternity Files $25 Million Lawsuit Against Rolling Stone

(AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Ryan M. Kelly)
Rolling Stone's utterly irresponsible story from last year that alleged that a brutal rape and abuse took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on the University of Virginia's fraternity row continues to rightly bite Rolling Stone in the ass.  I often complain about lazy journalists not ferreting out the truth, but the Rolling Stone piece was a piece of pure fiction.   Now, Phi Kappa Psi has filed a $25 million lawsuit against both Rolling Stone and worthless journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely who never bothered to check behind the wild and easily refuted claims of "Jackie," the alleged rape victim.  Not only did the fraternity have no party on the night of the alleged rape, but no one with the name of supposed date/rapist was ever a member of the fraternity.  The Washington Post looks at the new lawsuit.  Here are highlights:

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at the University of Virginia filed a $25 million lawsuit Monday against Rolling Stone magazine, which published an article in 2014 that alleged a freshman was gang raped at the house during a party.

The lawsuit focuses on a Rolling Stone article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which detailed a harrowing attack on a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012. The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described how Jackie was raped by seven men while two others watched in a second floor bedroom while a fraternity party raged downstairs. The article alleged that the attack was part of a hazing ritual at the long-time U-Va. fraternity.

The Washington Post found significant discrepancies in the Rolling Stone account, including that the fraternity did not host a party that night in 2012 and that a student identified by Jackie as her main attacker was never a member of the fraternity and did not attend U-Va.

Two investigations — by the Columbia University journalism school and the Charlottesville Police Department — later confirmed that there was no gang rape at the fraternity.

“The fraternity chapter and its student and alumni members suffered extreme damage to their reputations in the aftermath of the article’s publication and continue to suffer despite the ultimate unraveling of the story,” the Phi Psi chapter said in a statement Monday. “The article also subjected the student members and their families to danger and immense stress while jeopardizing the future existence of the chapter.”

Rolling Stone retracted the story in April, and the magazine’s editor, Will Dana, later resigned.

In the wake of the Rolling Stone article’s publication, the Phi Psi house was vandalized, windows were broken and anonymous activists scrawled “UVA Center for Rape Studies,” on the building.

“In the most scurrilous traditions of yellow tabloid journalism, Rolling Stone published a devastating story it knowingly failed to verify, in reckless disregard for truth or falsity, or the essential safety, dignity, and welfare of the organization or of those lives it was willing to crush with its defamatory article,” the fraternity contends in the lawsuit. “The story was simply too tempting, too sensational, to let facts get in the way.”

In the complaint, filed in state court in Charlottesville, the 54 undergraduate members of the fraternity describe living through the backlash of the article’s publication in November 2014.
The fraternity brothers say they faced vicious threats online, taunts in classrooms and suffered in recruiting new prospects to join the house.

Many alumni removed their affiliation with the fraternity from their résumés out of concern that Phi Psi membership could hurt their job prospects.

According to the fraternity’s complaint filed in state court: “This defamation action is brought to seek redress for the wanton destruction caused to Phi Kappa Psi by Rolling Stone’s intentional, reckless, and unethical behavior.”

I hope Phi Kappa Psi wins the lawsuit. One of my daughters had friends in the house while at UVA and many years ago as I student I attended parties at Phi Kappa Psi as well as at my own fraternity.

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