Jury Awards $3 Million to UVA Administrator Portrayed in Discredited Rolling Stone Rape Story
A college administrator portrayed in the now-discredited Rolling Stone rape article has been awarded a hefty sum against the magazine.
Arguing that she was demonized by the 2014 story, which claimed she'd tried to persuade a female student who said she'd been raped from reporting the assault, former University of Virginia dean of students Nicole Eramo demanded $7.5 million in the defamation case.
On Monday, a 10-member jury awarded Eramo $3 million.
Over the course of the trial, Eramo had to prove Rolling Stone made statements with "actual malice."
To do so, her attorneys mapped out what they said was the extensive damage that "A Rape on Campus" did to Eramo.
Eramo told jurors she had trouble sleeping and feared for the safety of her family in the wake of the publication of the story, in which author Sabrina Rubin Erdely claimed the school questionably handled a brutal gang rape at a fraternity house.
"I just wanted to disappear," Eramo told the court. "I didn't know how it was going to be OK."
Eramo says she also faced additional pressures following the publication because she was preparing to to undergo a double mastectomy for breast cancer.
"Even the strongest people have a breaking point," one of her attorneys told the court.
Jurors awarded $2 million to Eramo for statements made by Erdely and $1 million for the republication of the article by Rolling Stone and Wenner Media. Rolling Stone could appeal the verdict, the Associated Press reported.
Rolling Stone and Wenner Media have agreed to pay Erdely's legal costs and the damages levied against her. Rolling Stone's attorneys argued throughout the three-week trial that while it may have been a mistake to trust Jackie, their portrayal of the university and Eramo was fair and accurate.
Over the course of the months-long saga surrounding the story, it was revealed that the alleged gang rape at a frat house of a student identified only as "Jackie" never took place.
Rolling Stone also faces a $25 million lawsuit from Phi Kappa Psi, the frat house where Jackie claimed the assault occurred.