Virginia fraternity sues Rolling Stone over rape story
A University of Virginia fraternity sued Rolling Stone magazine on Tuesday for $25 million in damages over a discredited article about a 2012 gang rape at the fraternity.
The Phi Kappa Psi chapter filed the defamation lawsuit in Charlottesville, Virginia, Circuit Court against Rolling Stone and writer Sabrina Erdely, the fraternity said in a statement.
“Rolling Stone published the article with reckless disregard for the truth,” it said.
The lawsuit contends that Rolling Stone and Erdely wanted to advance a narrative of college campus sexual violence by depicting a rape, whether it was true or not, the statement said.
The 9,000-word story published in November 2014 said that a female student, identified by her real name, Jackie, endured a gang rape at the fraternity in late 2012.
The story caused a national furor and sparked demonstrations at the school about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Washington. The Phi Kappa Psi house was vandalized and the school shut down fraternity and sorority activities for the rest of the semester.
The magazine, known for its pop music coverage, retracted its story in December after citing discrepancies in Jackie’s account. It admitted that it never sought comment from the seven men accused of the alleged rape.
Charlottesville police said in March they had found no evidence to back up Jackie’s story.
A review of the story by the Columbia University School of Journalism commissioned by Rolling Stone found in April that the magazine failed to follow basic journalistic safeguards.
A spokesman for Rolling Stone could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rolling Stone is owned by Jann Wenner, who founded it in 1967. The privately held company, Wenner Media LLC, also publishes the magazines US Weekly and Men’s Journal.
Rolling Stone also faces lawsuits from a university administrator who alleges she was defamed and from three University of Virginia graduates who were members of the fraternity.
Fraternities and sororities are social clubs at many U.S. colleges. They often have their own housing.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Andrew Hay)