UVA Fraternity Files $25M Defamation Suit Against Rolling Stone

Posted: Updated: Nov 23, 2015 03:33 PM

A fraternity at the University of Virginia is suing Rolling Stone Magazine, marking the third lawsuit for the magazine stemming from one article.

Phi Kappa Psi is seeking $25 million in their lawsuit against the magazine, Wenner Media, Straight Arrows Publishers, and Sabrina Rubin Erdley. The suit is also seeking $350,000 in punitive damages.

The fraternity was at the center of a now debunked RS article, "A Rape on Campus" by Erdley. The complaint was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court on Monday, November 9.

The article appeared in the magazine back in November of 2014. In the article, a student known as 'Jackie' described being brutally gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012. 

In December 2014, Rolling Stone issued an apology, pointing out that discrepancies in Jackie's story were discovered. The magazine asked the Columbia Journalism School (CJS) to conduct an investigation of what had gone wrong in their reporting.

After a four-month investigation, CJS released its review, titling it "Rolling Stone's investigation: 'A failure that was avoidable.'" The authors of the review concluded Erdley and the magazine's staff failed to fact-check, corroborate stories from others involved, and follow other journalistic practices.

The Charlottesville Police Department conducted an investigation, announcing in March that there is no evidence that there was a rape as described in the Rolling Stone article.

The lawsuit says the original article made the fraternity and its members "the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide." Protests were held outside the fraternity's house, which was also vandalized.

Rolling Stone is also facing a federal lawsuit from three individual fraternity members, as well as a $7.5 million federal lawsuit from UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo
A spokeswoman for Rolling Stone said the magazine has no comment on the lawsuit.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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