The associate dean at the University of Virginia is suing Rolling Stone for more than $ 7.5 million over its now infamous retracted rape story about a fraternity at the school and the magazine’s owner Jann Wenner has hired a trusted law firm to protect both the publication and himself from the legal fallout over the debunked story.
Rolling Stone had published a full retraction of the story published in its last November issue, which claimed that a rape had taken place on the University of Virginia campus. The retraction cited “misplaced” faith in the story’s only source.
The exposé, titled “A Rape on Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had as its only source the victim of the alleged rape and identified her only as “Jackie.” But an investigation by local police failed to find any evidence corroborating the charges of rape that allegedly took place in September 2012.
An independent investigation conducted by Columbia University’s School of Journalism concluded that the magazine failed to properly verify the claims. According to the report “[Rolling Stone’s] failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”
The lawsuit has been brought by Nicole Eramo, University of Virginia’s associate dean of students, who was portrayed as an indifferent administrator in the Rolling Stone story. The exposé allegedly accused the associate dean of being more concerned about the university’s image than helping the rape victim.
According to the New York Post, Davis Wright Tremaine and Elizabeth McNamara, are now acting as Wenner’s outside legal counsel. In late 1999, McNamara successfully defended Rolling Stone in a libel suit brought by DARE, an anti-drug program.
A Wenner Media spokesperson declined to speak about the lawsuit and its potential fallout.