Alleged UVA Rape Victim 'Jackie' Will Stay Anonymous in Rolling Stone Trial

"Jackie," an University of Virginia student who claimed she was raped at a frat house in a 2014 Rolling Stone article, faced tons of unfortunate press when evidence suggesting that she fabricated the event surfaced earlier this year. Former UVA associate dean of students Nicole Eramo proceeded to sue Rolling Stone for defamation over how she was written about in the article, but the case has recently gained more attention after Jackie was accidentally identified in court, according to BuzzFeed News. However, the case's judge has agreed to keep Jackie's true identity under wraps.

A document revealing the victim's name accidentally appeared on the courtroom's TVs and the jurors' monitors in the early days of the trial. Plantiff lawyer Libby Locke quickly noticed the error and demanded the paper be removed. Although much speculation about the accuracy of Jackie's report caused Rolling Stone to retract the story, she has remained anonymous in court because she's still considered a sexual assault victim. Even despite the controversy swirling around Jackie, including that she never filed a police report for her assault, police never closed her case and seemed open to the idea that she was harmed in some other way.


"That doesn't mean something terrible did not happen to Jackie on Sept. 28, 2012," Charlottesville Chief of Police Tim Longo said last year. "We're just not able to gather sufficient facts to determine what that is."

Extra measures are being taken in court to protect Jackie's name; the courtroom's video monitors have remained off when playing her precorded depositions, and pictures showing alleged injuries from the rape haven't been revealed to the whole gallery, according to BuzzFeed. Eramo is still adament that Jackie made up the rape, claiming that she lied to get a crush's attention, but has also kept her anonymous "in the continuing spirit of cooperation and good faith."

Even if the sexual assault isn't true, we're still applauding those involved for working so hard to protect Jackie. As Ebony Tucker, advocacy director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, explained to BuzzFeed, publicizing Jackie's true name could alarm assault survivors about being identified if their stories are doubted and lead to fewer reports of rape. "That's such an important reason for having anonymity for survivors, so they can feel comfortable and not face retaliation or backlash," Tucker said. "Once we start compromising that, we start compromising safety for all survivors."

For the most part, the media has also kept quiet about Jackie's name. It's standard journalistic protocol to keep a sexual assault victim's name under wraps unless she gives permission to reveal her name, and all mainstream news outlet have followed this rule. Seeing as she was reported saying in her deposition that the article's publication made her "feel scared and overwhelmed and unsure of what to do," anonymity is exactly what Jackie needs right now. Whether or not her story's true, it was Rolling Stone's responsibility to fact-check her story and ensure they were publishing the truth—a responsibility they failed to fulfill.