Rolling Stone magazine responded to a lawsuit from University of Virginia Associate Dean Nicole Eramo, insisting that the magazine did not defame the dean in a now-discredited article that claimed she did not take sexual assault accusations seriously.
Eramo filed a lawsuit against the magazine in May, alleging the magazine portrayed her as indifferent toward accusations of sexual assault.
Rolling Stone, which has since retracted its story about a gang-rape at U.Va. because there's no proof it happened, said it is not responsible for libeling Eramo, alleging the statements made in the article "are not capable of being proven true or false." The magazine's response also states that the story was not published "with actual malice" against Eramo.
Oh, and Rolling Stone's lawyers also claim that the original article wasn't published "with recklessness, negligence or any other applicable degree of fault."
That's a laughable statement, considering that the Columbia Journalism Review's investigation of the original article found many instances in which both the author of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and her editors purposefully ignored evidence that the story was false.
For instance, the story's alleged victim, Jackie, stopped responding when Erdely tried to get the name of her alleged rapist. Erdely's editors agreed to allow the story to continue by simply referring to the alleged rapist by a pseudonym, something they had done when they couldn't contact three of Jackie's friends who were mentioned in the story. The editors later claimed that they had, in fact, confirmed that the rapist existed — knowing full well they had not.
Perhaps even more chilling is the fact that Rolling Stone editors cut important disclosures from the final article. Disclosures like the fact that the sociopathic statement from one of Jackie's friends about not wanting to participate in the article due to fraternity loyalty actually came from Jackie. Erdely had written that section to make it clear that she had not spoken to the friend and that Jackie had told her that's what he said. Her editors reworded the section to make it seem as though Rolling Stone had actually spoken to him.
There's also the fact that Erdely claimed she had doubts about the veracity of the story shortly after it was published, but continued to appear on news programs claiming it was accurate.
Eramo alleged in her lawsuit that the statements made about her were not the result of an innocent mistake. "They were the result of a wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts," Eramo's lawsuit states.
Among the claims in the Rolling Stone article was a quote from Eramo calling the university that employs her a "rape school."
Eramo's attorney, Libby Locke, responded to Rolling Stone in a statement to the Washington Post.
"It is unfortunate, however, that Rolling Stone continues to deny wrongdoing and seeks to avoid all responsibility for their malicious and reckless journalism that has caused Dean Eramo and the entire U.Va. community so much harm," she said.
Part of that denial of wrongdoing comes from the fact that neither Erdely nor her editors nor the fact-checkers have been fired, or even reprimanded publicly, for their involvement.