Last year, Rolling Stone magazine published a 9,000 word article titled “A Rape on Campus” which centered around a University of Virginia student’s horrifying account of her alleged gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The story turned out to be false. Now, the Virginia chapter of Phi Psi is seeking $25 million in damages in its defamation suit against Rolling Stone. The frat is suing both Rolling Stone and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the story.
“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 fraternity said in the statement.
“Innocent brothers were besieged in their residence, physically threatened, protested against and vilified by unknown assailants, fellow students and the university community,” the suit claims. “Impacts of the article were felt well beyond the University of Virginia and Charlottesville.”
Rolling Stone might have to pay up big in all the lawsuits related to this discredited story. The lawsuit follows similar legal action against the magazine from three former members of Phi Kappa Psi while UVa. associate dean of students Nicole Eramo is seeking at least $7.5 million.
Although the initial response to “A Rape on Campus” article started a necessary talk about sexual assault on college campuses and how schools handle these occurrences, details of the story were quickly questioned. Not only did the author neglect to try to interview the alleged rapists, but parts of the narrative didn’t make sense. Phi Kappa Psi says in a statement that it did not have a social event during the weekend of September 28th, 2012 when the rape allegedly occurred. In addition, the article suggests the gang rape was part of an initiation ritual, but the fraternity does not have pledges in the fall.
Let’s hope this crappy reporting doesn’t affect these boys’ lives forever.