The Phi Kappa Psi house, where Jackie alleged she had been gang-raped. Photo via AP.

A defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone filed by Nicole Eramo, University of Virginia‚Äôs Associate Dean of Students, is set for trial next month. A judge has ruled that the jury will have to decide whether the magazine acted with a ‚Äúreckless disregard for the truth‚ÄĚ in publishing Sabrina Rubin Erdely‚Äôs now-debunked story of a gang-rape on campus, and whether they showed further disregard by re-publishing it with an editor‚Äôs note after cracks in the story began to show.

Eramo sued the magazine and Erdely in a $7.85 million defamation suit in May of last year, arguing that the story was irresponsible as a whole and made ‚Äúdisparaging‚ÄĚ remarks about her personally, damaging her career prospects and her health.

In his pre-trial rulings, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, Judge Glen Conrad agreed with Rolling Stone that Eramo was a ‚Äúlimited-purpose public figure‚ÄĚ in the context of the story. Eramo‚Äôs attorneys had argued that she was a private citizen, which would have made it easier to prove that she had been defamed; the bar is higher for public figures.

Eramo‚Äôs attorneys also argued that republishing the story with an editor‚Äôs note after December 5, 2014 showed a ‚Äúreckless disregard‚ÄĚ for the truth. On that day, Erdely sent an email to her editors saying she‚Äôd lost faith in the truthfulness of Jackie‚Äôs account and asking for the story to be retracted.

Instead of pulling the story down, the republished piece came with a note that read, in part, ‚ÄúIn the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie‚Äôs account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.‚ÄĚ That note was widely criticized for placing the blame on a college student instead of the magazine‚Äôs editors; a new note published in its place said, ‚ÄúThese mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.‚ÄĚ


In April of this year, a judge ruled that Jackie will have to testify in the suit. Jackie‚Äôs attorneys had argued that she would be ‚Äúre-traumatized‚ÄĚ by a deposition; a judge disagreed with that, but allowed the deposition records to be sealed, and the time and location to remain private. It‚Äôs unclear whether she has already been deposed. The trial is set to run from October 17 to the 28.