The University of Virginia fraternity that became the center of a controversy in the “A Rape on Campus” story in the Rolling Stone magazine last year has filed a lawsuit against the magazine and the author of the story for $25 million.
According to the lawsuit, “The reputation that Phi Kappa Psi and its alumni spend decades building was destroyed overnight. The formerly respected fraternity is now known colloquially in the University of Virginia community as ‘the rape frat.'”
CNN reports that both Rolling Stone and the author, Sabrina Rubin, were sued by the UVA fraternity, which claims that they “deliberately ignored known facts and readily pursuable leads that, if acknowledge or pursued, would have shown that the allegations of ritualized brutal gang rape were fabricated.” In its statement, the Phi Kappa Psi said, “Rolling Stone published the article with reckless disregard for the truth.”
A similar legal action has been brought against the magazine by three former fraternity members and a University of Virginia administrator. While the damages sought by the three students have not been divulged, Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students, is claiming damages of at least $7.5 million.
Rolling Stone story about the UVA fraternity
The 2014 story in Rolling Stone was about a gang rape at the fraternity. It said that a freshman, identified only as “Jackie,” was given an alcoholic punch and taken in a dark bedroom. She was then pushed onto a glass table, which shattered upon her fall, and she was subsequently raped by seven members of the fraternity.
The magazine retracted the story in April 2015 following lack of evidence. A public apology was also issued by the magazine.
But by then the damage had been done, if only partially. Following the publication of the story, community members threw rocks and bottles at the fraternity. Cars outside the fraternity were also vandalized. Several members of the fraternity “reasonable feared for their safety.”
Columbia Journalism School was commissioned by Rolling Stone to probe into the matter. The findings of the same revealed flaws in the journalistic and editorial approach in which the magazine published the story.
The lawsuit filed against the UVA fraternity claims that Rolling Stone “set out in advance to find a sensational story of graphic and violent rape, searched for such a story at elite universities,” but did not check the facts. “The story was simply too tempting, too sensational, to let facts get in the way,” the lawsuit said, NBC News reports.