Rolling Stone magazine was found liable today in a defamation lawsuit over its 2014 article “A Rape on Campus,” which recounted the story of an alleged gang rape by fraternity members at the University of Virginia. The suit was brought by Nicole Eramo, an administrator at the school who said the magazine recklessly portrayed her as ruthless and uncaring toward the alleged victim. Eramo is seeking $7 million.
The article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was also found liable. A bombshell when it was first published, the article quickly fell apart after portions of the victim’s account could not be corroborated. Rolling Stone eventually retracted the story.
Defamation lawsuits against the media are notoriously difficult to win. Following the invasion of privacy verdict against Gawker Media earlier this year, today’s decision today is perhaps the latest sign that judges and juries are becoming increasingly unsympathetic toward media outlets.