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University dean awarded €2.7m over false Rolling Stone rape story

Nicole Eramo had sought $7.5 million (€6.6 million) in damages after an article claimed she had discouraged reporting of an alleged gang rape.

Nicole Eramo
Nicole Eramo
Image: Steve Helber AP/Press Association Images

A FEDERAL JURY has awarded $3 million (about €2.7 million) in damages to a University of Virginia official found to have been defamed in a discredited 2014 story about a purported gang rape on campus.

Nicole Eramo, an associate dean of students, was awarded $2 million (€1.8 million) from reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely and $1 million (€904,000) from Rolling Stone magazine and publisher Wenner Media on Monday, documents from the court in Charlottesville, Virginia, said.

Eramo had sought $7.5 million (€6.6 million) in damages after the article said she had discouraged reporting of the alleged attack for fear it might tarnish the elite university’s image.

Eramo’s suit alleged that Rolling Stone acted recklessly and willfully disregarded facts in reporting the story.

The jury on Friday found that both the magazine and Erdely were liable for defamation.

‘Jackie’

Headlined A Rape on Campus, the story triggered protests when it appeared in late 2014 with its explosive claims of a violent gang rape at a fraternity house, as recounted by the alleged victim, a student identified only as ‘Jackie’.

But the story began to unravel within weeks, with Jackie refusing to discuss the alleged incident and investigators and police uncovering no evidence that it had ever taken place.

Rolling Stone retracted the story and apologised after a Columbia University investigation exposed “avoidable” failures in basic journalistic practices during its reporting and editing.

Former members of the fraternity have filed a separate lawsuit.

Eramo testified during the trial that she faced threats and considered suicide after the article came out, The Washington Post reported.

She said it seriously hurt her professional credibility and made it impossible for her to continue working as an advocate for sexual assault prevention, according to the newspaper.

© AFP 2016

Read: Rolling Stone magazine defamed dean over bogus frat house gang rape story

Read: Rolling Stone heading to trial over debunked story of college rape

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