UVA Graduates File Lawsuit Against 'Rolling Stone'

On Wednesday, three graduate students from University of Virginia filed a suit against Rolling Stone for their infamous article, “A Rape on Campus.” All three men—George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford and Ross Fowler—are Phi Kappa Psi brothers and are facing varying degrees of distress following the publishing of the now debunked article. In an attempt to make amends, the three filed a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erderly, who authored the article, and the magazine’s publisher, Jann Warner.

The article in question was published in November 2014, and it claimed that a woman named Jackie was gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The rapists remained unnamed, but readers were quick to accuse certain members by following the clues left in the article. George Elias IV was a member whom readers attacked, since he lived in the room that was vividly described as the scene of the crime. 

The men claim that they faced “emotional turmoil” after being shunned by classmates, friends and even family members. They stated that they had difficulty focusing at work and in school, and that they will “forever be associated with the alleged gang rape.” In a Washington Post story, Elias said that, “the day [the article] came out was the most emotionally grueling of my life.” The brothers of the fraternity, Elias, Hadford and Fowler included, were faced with an uphill battle as soon as the media picked up the story. Because of these repercussions, the former students are seeking at least $225,000 in damages.

Nicole Eramo, the dean of the University of Virginia, filed a lawsuit back in May for up to $7.5 million in damages caused by the article. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has said that they plan on suing as well, but no progress has been made. With both lawsuits combined, Rolling Stone may face up to $8 million dollars in defamation damages because of their inaccurate reporting.