The University of Virginia fraternity at the center of a discredited Rolling Stone article that alleged members of the frat house gang-raped a freshman during a party has filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against the magazine.
In the lawsuit, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity accused Rolling Stone and writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely of “intentional, reckless and unethical behavior” for publishing the 9,000-word article “A Rape on Campus” in its November 2014 issue. The story alleged members of Phi Kappa Psi violently gang-raped a freshman, identified in the story only as “Jackie,” during a party at the fraternity house in September of 2012.
“Rolling Stone published the article with reckless disregard for the truth,” the lawsuit said.
Two independent investigations by the Columbia School of Journalism and the Charlottesville Police Department later found numerous problems with the magazine’s story, including that no gang rape appeared to have happened at the fraternity on the evening in question. Rolling Stone was forced to retract its story, and managing editor Will Dana resigned as a result of the scandal.
“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 a statement Monday. “The article also subjected the student members and their families to danger and immense stress while jeopardizing the future existence of the chapter.”
Rolling Stone is still facing two federal lawsuits; one from three of the UVA fraternity members who allege that the magazine’s story damaged their reputation, and another $7.5 million suit from Nicole Eramo, the school’s associate dean who claims the story similarly defamed her.