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Virginia trial set to begin over debunked Rolling Stone rape story

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A defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine over its debunked story of a University of Virginia gang rape is set to start in federal court on Monday.

University administrator Nicole Eramo is seeking a total of $7.85 million in damages over the 2014 story which described the assault of a freshman woman during a fraternity party in 2012.

In her lawsuit, Eramo said she was cast as the “chief villain of the story.”

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The article, “A Rape on Campus,” caused an uproar over the issue of sexual violence in U.S. colleges, but Rolling Stone retracted it in April 2015 when discrepancies surfaced.

Eramo, the former associate dean on sexual violence issues, filed suit against Rolling Stone, reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely and publisher Wenner Media in 2015.

In her lawsuit filed in Charlottesville federal court, Eramo claimed that Rolling Stone falsely portrayed her as callous and indifferent to the allegations of gang rape. The woman at the center of the story is named only as “Jackie” in the story and court papers.

Lawyers for Rolling Stone have argued that Eramo’s attorneys must prove that Erdely and the magazine’s editors acted with “actual malice” – meaning reckless disregard for the truth – when they published the claims against Eramo.

Rolling Stone lawyers have said that up until the magazine’s publication of an editor’s note about the story’s inconsistencies, it had full confidence in Jackie and the story.

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Rolling Stone commissioned a review by Columbia University that criticized the publication for reporting and editing lapses.

Defense lawyers said last week that Eramo’s lawyers had leaked a video deposition of Erdely to ABC television’s “20/20” news program for broadcast on Friday. They asked U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad to punish Eramo’s team for violating a protective order and to move the trial, claiming that the broadcast could taint the jury pool.

Conrad barred Eramo and her legal team from breaching the order anew and from using the Erdely deposition at trial. They also could face more sanctions, he wrote.

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A New York judge dismissed a federal defamation lawsuit in June that was brought by members of the University of Virginia fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, against Wenner Media, Rolling Stone and Erdely.

The fraternity has also sued Rolling Stone over the story. The magazine is owned by Jann Wenner, who founded it in 1967.

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(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Bernadette Baum)


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You’re a frog in a pot and Donald Trump is turning up the heat

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

"Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal," reported The Washington Post this week. It's one element in "a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election." It's unclear what criteria they are using to define loyalty to this president*, but it's important to understand a few things about this story.

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Justice Dept officials worry Bill Barr will fall quietly in line behind Trump after Stone interference: report

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According to a report from CNN, longtime Justice Department officials are concerned that Attorney General Bill Barr will do all he can to stay out of Donald Trump's sight and not interfere now that he was caught up in a squabble with the president over the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone.

CNN notes that Barr had previously watched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be swept up in the president's Ukraine scandal -- damaging the State Department official's reputation -- and hoped to keep a low profile in the president's public disputes.

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Trump’s India visit expected to boost exposure of his struggling properties in the country: report

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President Donald Trump heads off to India next Monday where his high profile visit may give a boost to his sagging fortunes at some of his properties in a country that happens to be the Trump Organization’s largest foreign market featuring the Trump name.

According to a report from Politico, "President Donald Trump arrives Monday in a country featuring the most Trump properties outside the U.S.The White House hopes the visit will advance trade talks and bolster the president’s standing with Indian-Americans ahead of the 2020 election," adding, "But it’s also a trip that will create attention that could help Trump-branded properties amid a slumping real estate market and slowing economy in India."

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