The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi has settled its defamation suit against Rolling Stone regarding allegations that some of its members participated in a gang rape, a claim that was put forth in the now-retracted 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.”
The Washington Post reports that, after asking for $25 million, the fraternity has settled for $1.65 million, a “significant portion” of which will be donated “to organizations that provide sexual assault awareness education, prevention training and victim counseling services on college campuses.” In 2015, former Phi Kappa Psi members George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford and Ross Fowler also filed a defamation suit against Rolling Stone, alleging that the piece caused those around them to believe they were involved in the supposed incident. That suit was dismissed by a judge last year.
“A Rape on Campus,” written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was published in November 2014. It painted a picture of unchecked, rampant sexual assault on campus via the harrowing tale of “Jackie,” an anonymous student at UVA who recounted being assaulted by seven men at a Phi Kappa Psi frat party while two others watched. The article was later retracted by Rolling Stone after an investigation by the Post discredited many of its claims.
This lawsuit is the most recent to be settled in the messy aftermath of Erdely’s article; in 2016, Nicole Eramo, a UVA administrator who was featured in the article, was awarded $3 million by a jury who determined that Erdley had defamed her with actual malice. Eramo ultimately settled with Rolling Stone’s parent company Wenner Media in May for an undisclosed sum.