Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, the UVA official who was depicted most harshly in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s now-retracted Rolling Stone story on campus rape, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the magazine and Erdely.
The news is breaking, and we’ll update you as more relevant information comes to light, but what we know so far, per Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, is that Eramo is filing suit over what the suit calls a “wanton journalist” (Erdely) and a “malicious publisher” (Rolling Stone). Eramo’s suit further states that “untrue” and “disparaging” statements were made about her, and that the RS piece “fulfilled [Erdely’s] preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses.” She’s seeking $7.5 million. UVA has issued a statement backing her up.
“The University of Virginia previously stated that the Rolling Stone article is an example of irresponsible journalism, which has damaged the reputation of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia,” the statement said. “The University fully supports and appreciates the professional competency and contributions of Dean Eramo and all of her colleagues who work tirelessly in the support of our students and their safety and wellbeing.”
Not that we shouldn’t have seen this coming. Last month, Eramo wrote a scalding open letter written in response to Erdely’s apology and Rolling Stone’s retraction (again via Wemple).
In the article and related media appearances, Rolling Stone and Mrs. Erdely stated that I discouraged Jackie from reporting or discussing her alleged assault, that Jackie suffered “abuse” at my hands when she tried to hold the perpetrators accountable, that I called UVA “the rape school,” that I did not “support” Jackie, that I did “nothing” in response to Jackie’s allegations and did not report them to the police, and that I sought to “suppress” Jackie’s alleged sexual assault. Rolling Stone celebrated these malicious and false allegations by accompanying the article with a cartoonish picture of me doctored to appear as though I was smiling and giving a “thumbs up” to a crying victim sitting in my office, while angry protestors marched outside with signs like “Stop Victim Blaming.”
If you’ll recall, after RS retracted their story, nobody—not the editors, fact checkers, or Erdely herself—were disciplined professionally, as, in publisher Jann Wenner’s words, the epic fuck up represented a “isolated and unusual episode.” Eramo’s lawsuit ensures that this “isolated” episode will likely have repercussions that take months or years to be resolved in court.
Image via Getty.
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