You may recall that back in 2014, Rolling Stone published an article highlighting an account of gang rape that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia. The article sparked extensive discussion about sexual assault, fraternity life and the procedures colleges have in place to protect students.
Much to the surprise of readers, within a few short months Rolling Stone retracted the article after some people pointed out that the story seemed suspicious. After conducting another round of fact-checking, the editor of the story found that they had made a big mistake. The fraternity named, as well as many of Jackie’s friends, contested her story, and it turned out that there was no evidence available to support her claims.
The following May, UVA’s Associate Dean of Students, Nicole Eramo, filed a defamation law suit against Rolling Stone since the article essentially destroyed her reputation by making her look like the “chief villain” in the article. The article stated that Dean Eramo did nothing when Jackie came to her for help, when in fact she helped Jackie to go to police, according to the dean’s lawyer, Libby Locke. She’s suing for roughly $8 million dollars.
Obviously, Jackie is going to be a key part of this defamation case, and according to The New York Times, the judge has ordered that she testify and face questioning from lawyers. However, Jackie’s lawyers and supporters are fervently arguing that if she is forced to testify, telling her story will basically re-traumatize her and leave her emotionally damaged.
Honestly, this whole situation is so messy, and could have been avoided if Rolling Stone had taken more time to thoroughly fact-check. “A Rape On Campus” was a pretty egregious example of journalism gone wrong, as the Columbia School of Journalism found.
This story has gotten completely out of hand, but regardless, Jackie will be testifying in the defamation lawsuit. We can only hope that this time the truth actually comes out, and that this whole case can be solved and put to rest.