Ed Driscoll

U.Va. Dean Sues Rolling Stone Over False Rape Story

“The University of Virginia dean accused by Rolling Stone of being indifferent toward sexual assault survivors is now suing the magazine,” Ashe Schow writes at the Washington Examiner, who notes that Associate dean of students Nicole Eramo is “seeking nearly $8 million in damages for its portrayal of her:”

“Rolling Stone and [writer Sabrina Rubin] Erdely’s highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the result of an innocent mistake,” the lawsuit states, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Post. “They were the result of a wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts.”

Eramo was the only named “villain” of the Rolling Stone story about a brutal gang rape at U.Va. She was described as being callously indifferent to sexual assault accusations because, according to the accuser in the now-retracted story, “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”

Far from being an indifferent dean, Eramo actually did everything she could to help Jackie, the accuser in the Rolling Stone story, but wasn’t given enough information to identify any real assailants. Further, Jackie wouldn’t cooperate with police even before the Rolling Stone story broke.

The Washington Post also adds this detail:

[Rolling Stone] also printed a photo illustration of Eramo that she argues is inflammatory; the lawsuit says the magazine turned a mundane Cavalier Daily photo of her addressing a classroom and turned it into a wild-eyed image of her sitting in an office giving a “thumbs-up” in front of distraught sexual assault victim as protesters hold signs outside. The lawsuit claims the doctored image “demonstrates the lengths Erdely and Rolling Stone were willing to go to portray Dean Eramo as a villain.”

The complaint details that in the wake of the story’s publication Eramo received hundreds of spiteful e-mails from alumni and others who judged her based on her portrayal in Rolling Stone. In addition to rape and death threats, the messages described Eramo as a “wretched rape apologist” and “a disgusting, worthless piece of trash” who should “burn in hell forever.”

As the story gained international attention, Eramo lost sleep, had difficulty eating, experienced emotional distress, and sought counseling, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also alleges that Eramo, stressed out and emotionally and physically drained, suffered surgical complications during an operation to treat a recurring case of breast cancer, leading her to spend additional days in the hospital.

The truth that Eramo knew at the time, the suit argues, was that the dean had made considerable efforts to help Jackie, who first spoke to U-Va. officials about her alleged assault after she was summoned to a meeting about her having failed three classes.

The suit says that Eramo quickly arranged for Jackie to meet with police, helped introduce her to sexual assault support groups on campus and encouraged the student to get other alleged Phi Psi rape victims to “come forward so that UVA could take action against the fraternity if the allegations were well founded.”

Here’s the original photo of Eramo, and after Rolling Stone was done Photoshopping the image, via a reporter with the Richmond Times Dispatch:

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