The Eramo / Erdely / Rolling Stone trial

Day 1 - Monday, 2016-10-17

Day 1: Jurors selected in Eramo v. Rolling Stone defamation trial
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-10-17


Even last week, Rolling Stone filed hasty motions for sanctions against Eramo
when it learned her lawyers had provided ABC’s “20/20″ with deposition videos
that ABC aired October 14—three days before the trial was scheduled to begin.

The show featured Eramo, who described her fear of being fired after the story came out, and Erdely, who said she had believed Jackie.

“I have a feeling the judge is not happy they leaked it before trial,”
says legal expert David Heilberg, who is not connected with the case.
“That’s really bad form because it prejudices the jury pool.”

Judge Glen Conrad ruled that any depositions turned over to “20/20” could not be used in the trial.
But, as Heilberg pointed out, Erdely is going to have to testify anyway
because a civil trial does not offer Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.


[T]he final list of eight women and two men ... were named around 3:30pm.

At that point, the judge fed the jurors a snack and told them to decide how long they wanted to be in court each day.
They agreed to a 10-hour day starting at 8am through 6pm.

At 4:30pm, the judge’s clerk read for an hour the 9,000-word article in question, “A Rape on Campus.”

The jury also heard Erdely in an interview she did on WNYC radio a few days after the article came out.
What was shocking to her, she said on the show:
“[Jackie] was brushed off by her friends and the administration.”

She also mentioned the administration’s “level of indifference,”
which Eramo contends in her suit was Erdely’s purpose in publishing the article—
to portray UVA as indifferent to rape
and more interested in protecting its reputation than assisting victims of sexual assault.

First thing October 18, jurors heard a podcast of
a November 27, 2014, Slate interview with Erdely,
in which host Hanna Rosin calls the gang rape scenario “unbelievably extreme”
and asked Erdely whether she contacted the alleged rapists,
a question Erdely doesn’t answer.

As Erdely continued to talk in the podcast
about how “doing nothing” about sexual assault at UVA “is perfectly fine”
and survivors can go “unburden themselves to the dean,
Eramo wiped tears from her eyes at the plaintiff’s table.

Eramo, Rolling Stone trial begins with jury selection
Eight women, two men to serve as jurors in $7.5 million defamation lawsuit
by Anna Higgins and Riley Walsh
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-17

Day 2 - Tuesday, 2016-10-18

Emotional day for Nicole Eramo in court
by Tomas Harmon
CBS 19 Newsplex.com, 2016-10-18

Eramo takes stand in Rolling Stone defamation suit
Attorneys deliver opening statements
by Anna Higgins and Tim Dodson
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-18

On Day 2, Eramo testifies about working with 'Jackie' and Erdely
Daily Progress, 2016-10-18

Nicole Eramo has plenty of reasons for pursuing her $7.85 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone.

She said as much in federal court on Tuesday: she wants to restore her reputation, she wants security for her future and, perhaps most vehemently, she wants the magazine and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely to be held accountable for the dire mistakes made with “A Rape on Campus.”

“No one ever thought of me as a real person,” the University of Virginia administrator exclaimed from the stand at Charlottesville’s federal courthouse. “They made me into something they wanted me to be.”

Tuesday was the second day in Eramo’s defamation lawsuit against the magazine, its publisher and Erdely over her portrayal as the “chief villain” in Erdely’s now-retracted November 2014 piece “A Rape on Campus.” On Monday, a 10-person jury was empaneled from a pool of 100, leaving Tuesday morning open for counsel from both sides to deliver opening arguments.

Tom Clare, representing Eramo in the matter, opened the trial day by echoing the words of the Columbia Journalism School’s review of Erdely’s piece, calling it a “journalistic failure.” That’s been a popular opinion since the piece was retracted in April 2015, a month before Eramo filed her suit.

In her suit, Eramo claims that, as the former associate dean charged with aiding student survivors of sexual assault, she was unduly maligned when Erdely’s article hit shelves. The piece severely derides UVa’s administration as ineffective at handling cases of sexual assault among students; in her role, Eramo was mentioned 30 times by name and 10 times by title in the largely negative piece.

After stirring an uproar at UVa and abroad, intense scrutiny and investigations debunked the article’s centerpiece story of “Jackie,” a student at the time who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity house during her freshman year.

Jackie has remained central to the case, although Clare’s opening arguments indicate that she will not be giving a live testimony at trial and that the jury will simply see a taped deposition that Jackie provided earlier this year.

Portions of that taped deposition were read aloud by Clare on Tuesday; notably, Jackie appeared to defend Eramo, who had counseled Jackie after she came forward about her alleged assault.

“I never felt like she suppressed my assault,” Clare read, contradicting the insinuations of the retracted article.

Clare went on to describe exactly how Eramo’s life and career were damaged in the article’s aftermath. The former associate dean received threatening emails, had protesters outside her office door and feared that her job was in jeopardy.

When doubts arose about Jackie’s story, emails indicated that Erdely had lost faith in her account and asked for a retraction. Instead, Clare said, the editors chose to blame Jackie in a pre-story addendum, before editing it the next day to finally take responsibility for the journalistic mishap.

Clare narrowed his arguments down to five essential points that placed Rolling Stone in the wrong:
  • Eramo did take Jackie to the police after hearing of her assault,
  • the magazine was aware of this fact,
  • the magazine didn’t seek to confirm Jackie’s story,
  • they then blamed her when the story went off the rails and, finally,
  • the magazine created a harsh photo illustration of Eramo to accompany the ill-fated article.

Speaking for Rolling Stone, attorney Scott Sexton acknowledged mistakes made by the magazine and its author but pointed out that, in proving the necessary “actual malice” standard in play for the case, the magazine “obviously had nothing against Nicole Eramo.” Instead, he argued, they took issue with UVa’s handling of sexual assault, and Eramo was caught in the crossfire.

“She was the face of the university’s policies and procedures,” Sexton said. “It was never personal; it was all about these procedures.”

Sexton stressed that actual malice standard, which was established when Judge Glen Conrad ruled that Eramo is a “limited purpose public figure” in the case. By upgrading her from simply being a private figure, Eramo can no longer prove the case based on common negligence on the part of Erdely or her editors; now she must prove that they were aware of problems with the reporting but published the story anyway.

“They have to make the statement knowing it was false,” Sexton explained to the jury. “You’ll have to get in the minds of Ms. Erdely and [Rolling Stone editor] Sean Woods.”

He added that the truth of Jackie’s claims were “not relevant” to the case because they aren’t germane to the statements specifically made about Eramo.

The remainder of Tuesday’s trial was dedicated to Eramo’s own testimony.
In it, she outlined her relationship with Jackie.
In May 2013, Jackie had a meeting with her academic dean over her struggling grades.
When she told the dean of her assault, she was referred to Eramo,
who provided her resources and encouraged her to report the assault to the police.

Eramo said at the time that Jackie alleged that she’d been forced to perform oral sex on five men.
It wasn’t until much later that Eramo had heard a version of the story in which seven men vaginally penetrated Jackie.

The former associate dean then emotionally ran through a timeline of their relationship,
in which Eramo provided gentle guidance to Jackie but repeatedly pressed for her
to take her allegations to the police, according to Eramo’s testimony.

“I wanted her to report and I would be with her every step of the way,”
Eramo said tearfully.

Jackie even expressed distress to Eramo over the upcoming Rolling Stone article
in the weeks before it was published, Eramo said.
Nine days before it was published,
Jackie sent Eramo an email saying
she was “concerned that
much of what she said [to Erdely] was being misrepresented.”

Eramo also testified as to her dealings with Erdely,
noting that while she’d agreed to an interview with her,
UVa higher-ups told her to cancel it,
and they instead opted to do the interview themselves.
Eramo and Erdely had nearly no interaction with one another, she said,
and the entire time that the story was being written,
she’d assumed it was about campus sexual assault advocacy in general.

She went on to describe the fallout from the article’s publication,
calling the vibe of the campus “hysterical”
and her own reaction to the story as “shocked” and “stunned.”
Eramo said that reading Jackie’s new account of her gang rape
“didn’t make a lot of sense to me,” given their close relationship.

“Most of it was completely new to me,” she said.

When Clare closed his questioning,
Eramo said that she didn’t blame Jackie for anything that happened and said that,
while she didn’t believe her claims in the story,
she did wonder if Jackie had faced some form of trauma.

She did, however, find blame with Rolling Stone;
she heatedly called for the magazine to be accountable
for what it had done to her and to so many others,
and hoped that the trial’s result would dissuade any other instances of
“drive-by journalism.”

Eramo will face questioning from Rolling Stone’s attorneys Wednesday morning,
when the trial picks up for the third of its expected 12 days in court.

Day 2: Eramo takes stand in suit against Rolling Stone
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-18

It was a courtroom with tears shed on both sides of the aisle.

The defamation trial pitting former University of Virginia dean Nicole Eramo against her portrayal by Rolling Stone magazine’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely got into full swing Tuesday with both women crying at the federal courthouse. There was even talk of past tears, such as when Eramo, the only person whose image ran with the story, was depicted with a demonic smile and hollow eyes while protesters mass outside her office.

“I started to cry when I saw the picture,” Eramo testified. “They made me look like the devil.”

According to the plaintiff, her negative portrayal didn’t end with that digitally-manipulated image. Rolling Stone suggested that Eramo steered victims away from police reports, downplayed sexual violence statistics and called UVA “the rape school,” allegations she categorically denied from the witness stand.

“They made me into something they wanted me to be for their own narrative,” she said.

Eramo conceded that she canceled a planned interview at the behest of UVA’s communications office, but said she would have answered a fact-checker’s questions—if only she’d been called.

“I would have checked with communications, and if allowed to answer I would have done so,” Eramo said.

Some of Eramo’s most emotional testimony concerned November 19, 2014, the day that “A Rape on Campus” screamed across the Internet, telling a tale—eventually debunked—of a gang rape in a fraternity house.

“I read it on my phone about five o’clock in the morning,” Eramo testified. “I was stunned.”

She described the opening sequence of a seven-against-one gang rape as horrific, but horror gave way to puzzlement as Jackie, she said, had previously portrayed to Eramo a different rape scenario.

“I was shocked,” Eramo said. “I was very confused why she hadn’t shared such a horrific incident and let me help her.”

Eramo began to realize her own depiction didn’t end as a devil in imagery, but also in deed. “I was accused of manipulating a student after gaining her trust, which is so far from what I had tried to do,” she said.

By the time she got to the office in Peabody Hall, she realized the story was already having an impact, and she wondered if her boss, Allen Groves, had read it.

“When I walked in, the office was deadly quiet, which was strange,” Eramo said. “Allen asked me if I was okay.”

She says she was asked to come to a 3pm meeting and bring all her case files—so other administrators could follow up on them.


Day 3 - Wednesday, 2016-10-19

Eramo’s cross-examination ends, Erdely’s begins
Former dean called “rape apologist” outside court during break
by Hailey Ross and Xara Davies
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-19

Erdely defends reporting in 'A Rape on Campus'
Daily Progress, 2016-10-19

Sabrina Rubin Erdely has taken the stand to defend her reporting in an article that’s led to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against her and Rolling Stone magazine.

Erdely’s testimony closed out the third trial day for the $7.5 million defamation suit brought by University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo against Rolling Stone, its publisher and Erdely, the author of the now-retracted piece “A Rape on Campus.”

The suit had previously sought $7.85 million, but in a motion filed Monday, Eramo dropped her claim for $350,000 in punitive damages.
An attorney for Eramo declined to comment on the withdrawal when asked Wednesday.

Eramo claims she was cast as the “chief villain” in Erdely’s November 2014 article,
which had been intended to showcase the culture of sexual assault on elite college campuses.
The piece featured the now-debunked story of “Jackie,”
a then-student who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity house during her freshman year at UVa.

When it was published, Eramo served as an associate dean charged with aiding student survivors of sexual assault.
She claims the article mischaracterizes her as
callous and indifferent to the needs of her students,
to the extent that she dissuaded them from reporting their assaults.

Eramo finished her own testimony Wednesday morning when she fielded questions from an attorney for Rolling Stone.
Unlike her testimony Tuesday, in which she tearfully recounted the events leading up to and following the article’s publication,
Wednesday saw Eramo defending the UVa administration’s policies and procedure
for handling sexual-assault allegations and helping student survivors.

Liz McNamara, representing the magazine, asked Eramo about
an interview with the UVa alumni-owned WUVA that took place weeks before the article’s release.
In the interview, which attracted more controversy in the article’s wake,
Eramo spoke about the fact that
no student had been expelled for sexual misconduct since 1998,
while students found guilty of cheating often did.

McNamara pointed to that interview and two critical government reports
as a foundation for Erdely’s characterizations of Eramo and UVa.
She specifically referenced a Title IX report that said
Eramo had created a “hostile environment” at the university for student survivors.

She then pressed Eramo about her career with UVa since “A Rape on Campus.”
Eramo confirmed that she had in fact received a raise since the article
and had not lost her job as she had feared she would after the article was released.
Eramo pointed out that, nonetheless,
she had been taken out of her role as dean
and could no longer follow her passion of working directly with UVa students.

After Eramo’s testimony came to a close,
her attorneys played a deposition video of Emily Renda,
a former UVa student who became an employee working at the university’s Sexual Misconduct Board.
In that role, Renda maintained a close working relationship with Eramo
and was the person who connected Jackie to Erdely when the latter was researching the article.

In the video, dated March 2016, Renda called Eramo a “mentor”
and became emotional while talking about the closeness of their relationship.
Renda said in the video that not all of the student survivors at UVa
were satisfied with the outcome of their sexual-assault claims,
with some assigning partial blame to Eramo,
but that group of people was in the minority.

Renda also spoke about her experience testifying before a Senate committee about sexual assault,
during which she shared portions of Jackie’s story.
Under questioning, Renda said that she received no pushback from the administration in sharing Jackie’s story.

The former UVa employee had a keen sense of the fallout from the article’s release,
given her relationship to both Jackie and Eramo,
and said that Erdely had mischaracterized each of them in her reporting.
She recalled Jackie complaining that Erdely had pressured her into naming the fraternity where her alleged assault took place,
and she asserted that Jackie’s involvement was used to “serve the narrative.”

Renda closed her testimony by telling attorneys that
the article had “undermined” all of her sexual-assault advocacy work at UVa,
to the extent that she left UVa and her career in the field.

Wednesday’s trial day closed with
the first hour of what is expected to be a long testimony from Erdely.
She first faced off with Eramo’s attorney Libby Locke,
who asked Erdely about her body of work.

Locke took the hour to highlight similarities between entries of Erdely’s catalog.
Each story Locke asked about involved sexual assault,
as well as some form of negligence by a governing body,
including the criminal justice system, the military and the Catholic Church.

When asked about each story, Erdely defended her reporting,
outlined nuances in each reporting process and, for some,
equated the writing of the pieces as “performing a public service.”

Nonetheless, Locke was stern in pointing out aspects of the stories that paralleled
Eramo’s assertion that Erdely had a preconceived notion
of what she wanted “A Rape on Campus” to be about.
Erdely “disagreed with the characterization” more than once
and unequivocally stated that
she never sought out to find “institutional indifference” to sexual assault
when writing what is currently her last published article.

Erdely’s testimony will pick back up on Thursday
in the fourth of what’s expected to be a 12-day trial in the matter.

Day 3: Testimony gets heated in Rolling Stone trial
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-10-19

If yesterday was an emotional sob fest, Wednesday’s proceedings in UVA administrator Nicole Eramo’s defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone were much calmer, with the leading ladies in the suit—plaintiff Eramo and defendant/reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely—both taking the stand and both sparring with opposing counsel.

It was not without emotion, however. At the lunchtime recess outside the courthouse, Eramo “was accosted by a woman who called her a ‘rape apologist,’” said Eramo’s attorney Libby Locke, an incident the lawyer says proves the ongoing damage to her client’s reputation from the November 2014 Rolling Stone article, damage for which Eramo is suing for nearly $8 million.

And in a bombshell request, Locke attempted to enter a video in which Erdely told students at her University of Pennsylvania alma mater that she’d made mistakes while a student reporter, which Locke described as plagiarizing material for an interview that never happened with folk singer Michelle Shocked and making dubious attributions.

Judge Glen Conrad will be mulling over how pertinent that is to the case and whether to admit the video. “I’m a little bit disappointed this is coming up so late, on the third day of trial,” he said.

The day began with Rolling Stone attorney Elizabeth McNamara’s cross examination of Eramo, questioning how she’d handled the report made by Jackie, the alleged gang rape victim in the Rolling Stone story.

Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where Jackie claimed seven men attacked her, was already on UVA’s radar before Erdely appeared on the scene after Jackie said she’d met two other women who had similar experiences there, according to Eramo’s testimony.

“Under Title IX, it’s required the university undertake an investigation,” said McNamara, who asked Eramo if the campus was warned about the alleged gang rape.

“It was not my purview to send warnings,” replied Eramo, who also noted that while Jackie’s assault had taken place September 28, 2012, she didn’t report it until many months later and it wasn’t until May 2014 that she said there were other victims.

Eramo reported to her boss, Dean Allen Groves, in a May 13, 2014, summary that Jackie said “several of them forced her to give them oral sex.” Eramo testified that she met with a national Phi Kappa Psi representative in September 2014 about a “potential rape at the chapter.”


McNamara played Eramo’s September 2014 WUVA interview, in which she’s questioned about the fact that while UVA expels students for cheating, it’s never expelled anyone for sexual assault.

Eramo’s testy response to student interviewer Catherine Valentine—”I think I’ve answered your question—became the basis for the Office of Civil Rights September 21, 2015, report that statements from Eramo, the chair of the Sexual Misconduct Board, “constituted the basis for a hostile environment” for the handling of sexual assault at UVA.

The testimony also indicated Eramo had been eager to talk to Erdely for the Rolling Stone article, and when Vice President of Student Affairs Pat Lampkin “suggested I not be the institutional voice on this,” said Eramo, she wrote in an e-mail to Lampkin and the student affairs hierarchy, “I’m afraid it may look like we are trying to hide something for me not to speak with her.”

McNamara guided Eramo through the article, pointing out all the times Erdely noted Eramo was beloved by the survivors.

The attorney also tallied the apologies Rolling Stone made for its major journalistic gaffe. Eramo was not swayed by the four apologies. “I don’t believe it was sincere,” she said, because Rolling Stone, while admitting error in its Jackie account, still stood by its reporting on Eramo.

In a final effort to minimize the harm Eramo suffered from the story, McNamara introduced a letter about a salary increase to $110,000 Eramo got in August 2015, and Eramo testified she’s now making $113,000. She was never disciplined or reprimanded and she received letters of praise from her bosses, including a handwritten note from UVA President Teresa Sullivan, reminded the attorney.

McNamara also pointed out that while Eramo held the title of deputy Title IX coordinator for students,
she called Jackie a “serial fabulist.”

“Yes,” said Eramo.

Eramo read in its entirety an April 2015 letter she sent to Rolling Stone
about how it added “insult to injury” in its portrayal of her
as an “unsympathetic and manipulative false friend”
more interested in keeping UVA’s rape statistics low.
The article, wrote Eramo,
“deeply damaged me both personally and professionally.”

Her name and a Photoshopped picture “remain forever linked” to the article that damaged her reputation, she said.

Erdely’s appearance on the stand around 5pm—nine hours into the proceedings—perked up weary jurors and spectators.

Eramo attorney Locke wasted no time in
presenting articles longtime journalist Erdely had written about sexual assault,
and accused the reporter of being critical
of medical licensing boards for failing to protect patients from convicted gynecologists,
of juries that don’t convict date rapists,
of the Catholic Church for covering up sex crimes
and of the military for covering up sexual abuse.

“I take issue with how you’re characterizing my articles,” said Erdely.

“You can take issue,” replied Locke. “It’ll be up to the jury to decide.”

Included in the plaintiff’s massive exhibit stack is Erdely’s 430-page reporting file of the notes she took while interviewing.
The notes, she explained, were not every word from an interview.
“You’re trying to get the important things for the article,
not necessarily a record for litigation,” said Erdely.

Locke hammered on the premise that Erdely all along was focused on “institutional indifference” in her story pitch and in interview requests for her article about rape culture on college campuses.

Referring to an e-mail Erdely sent to Eramo asking for an interview, said Locke,
“You don’t tell Eramo your article is about institutional indifference.”

“My article is not about institutional indifference,” said Erdely.

The trial, which began Monday, is expected to last 12 days, with Erdely back on the stand Thursday.

Day 4 - Thursday, 2016-10-20

Rolling Stone Writer Admits Mistakes In Reporting Of Rape Story
Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely testified in a libel trial that she put too much faith in an alleged rape victim whose story was discredited. “It was a mistake to rely on someone whose intent was to deceive me.”
by Tyler Kingkade
Buzz Feed, 2016-10-20

Day 4: Erdely gives scarring testimony
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-20

“I found her to be very credible,”
said the reporter [Sabrina Rubin Erdely] on the podcast.
“I put her story through the wringer.”

This audio about “Jackie,”
the now-discredited protagonist of a once-blockbuster magazine article
was played for jurors,
as the plaintiff’s attorney tried to crush the credibility of reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely
on Day Four of the $7.85 million libel suit filed by former UVA dean Nicole Eramo.

“I spoke to virtually all of her friends
to find out what she told them at various points,”

continued the Slate podcast published on Thanksgiving Day in 2014,
during arguably the greatest days of Erdely’s journalism career.

It was just eight days after the release of “A Rape on Campus,”
a now-retracted story Erdely penned for “Rolling Stone.”
And the words from the podcast hung over the courtroom,
as plaintiff’s attorney Libby Locke attempted to demolish them.

Using Erdely’s own interview notes,
Locke got Erdely to concede that
Jackie’s roommate Rachel Soltis recalled that
Jackie described her violation as a five-man oral assault
that included penetration with a broken beer bottle.
The magazine, however, depicted a seven-man rape with an intact beer bottle.

“Yeah, the details changed over time as she came to terms with the rape,
which is typical of trauma survivors,” Erdely explained.

[Really? Well, it certainly is typical of liars.
Right, local feminists and their supporters?]

Locke pointed to another friend who, Erdely’s notes indicate,
said Jackie claimed she’d been violated with a coat hanger.

“The important thing to me,” Erdely shot back,
“was that she was verifying
that she had been raped with a foreign object.”

[???? On what planet were her words "verification" of anything?
Planet PC, evidently. Or Planet Erdely.]

There was one moment when Locke may have thought she’d caught Erdely with another inconsistency,
a discussion of the victim wearing a red dress in one account
and then a blue dress in the roommate’s account.

“She was making a joke,” said Erdely. “She’s referring to the Monica Lewinsky scandal.”

Locke’s questions suggested that allegations of scars on Jackie’s back and arms
provided another pile of bogus information.

“I asked to see the scars on her back,”
Erdely said in her own notes, as shown on two large video monitors.
“Her boyfriend hadn’t seen them, but it had been two years,
so I accepted the explanation that they had faded.
In the dim light I see nothing.”

The notes show that Jackie then offers,
“I can wear something tomorrow to show them.”

The jurors heard audio of a dinner interview in which Jackie says,
“All of my friends are like, ‘What are those?’
And I’m like, ‘Those are from September 28.”

Erdely would later tell Washington Post journalist Paul Farhi:
“Jackie showed me the scars that she said she’d suffered the night of her attack.”

Erdely refused to answer Farhi’s questions about
whether she knew the attacker’s name and whether she’d interviewed him.
He said it would be journalistic “malpractice” if she hadn’t.

“You’re getting sidetracked,” she chastised Farhi in a November 30 e-mail exchange
in which she said
the main point of her article was the culture
and a UVA administration “which chose not to act on her allegations in any way.”

Around the same time, however, the notes show Erdely was losing confidence in Jackie
and e-mailed Jackie to point out that none of her friends had seen the scars.

Also at that dinner interview according to a transcript put on the screen,
Jackie tells the table that the gang rape gave her syphilis,
something that catches her boyfriend off guard.

“I don’t have it any more,” Jackie reassures him.

It wasn’t the last time Jackie carried a claim about syphilis.
She alleged that one of her three best friend—
the ones who comforted her after the alleged gang rape—
contracted the disease after sleeping with 40 guys.
[Hey, she[Jackie]'s a feminist.
You can't expect truth or integrity from them
(or the shrinks that validate them).]

“You never challenged her,” says Locke.

“Yes,” replies a quietly weeping Erdely, “to my great regret.”

That was the friend Erdely put in the story under the pseudonym Cindy,
a “self-described hookup queen” who frets that Jackie should remain silent
to avoid being “the girl who cried rape,”
adding that they’d “never be allowed into any frat party again.”

After Locke pressed Erdely to admit that she waited until after the article’s publication
to grill Jackie on the inconsistencies,
the judge interjected a question of his own:
Who asked Erdely to re-report.

“Jann Wenner,” was her answer.

The founder-owner of the rock/culture magazine has not been attending trial,
but his magazine’s future may hang in the balance
if his recent decision to sell a 49 percent stake is any indication.

Erdely was to be one of the magazine’s stars.
She revealed Thursday that after writing stories for Rolling Stone for several years,
this one was to be her first under a new contract
that would have paid her $300,000 for seven stories over the course of two years.

During a discussion of the days in late August when Jackie allegedly stopped replying to the reporter’s texts and e-mails,
Locke begins reading from one e-mail shown on a screen.
When she gets to Jackie’s last name, plainly visible to the gallery,
the lawyer suddenly halts and shouts to a nearby technician:
“If we could take that down, please, off the screen.”

[You notice how America's "elite" conceals the name of proven blatant liars.
Today's "elite" could care less about things like truth.
Or getting both sides of a story.
Instead, it's "Don't blame the victim."]

Later, the technician dims the gallery screens again
when a photograph appears of Jackie’s purported facial injuries from an incident—
disputed by the Charlottesville Police Department—
in which Jackie was allegedly injured by a thrown bottle.

“Keeping her identity confidential is important,” said Judge Glen Conrad,
to encourage “other victims” to come forward.
[You suck, Judge Conrad.
Just what do you mean by “other victims”?
Are you saying, despite all the evidence,
that Jackie is a victim of anything other than her own bad judgment?
How about encouraging women to tell the truth,
by showing that there are consequences
for making false accusations of rape?
Why would that discourage people from making VALID claims?
And how about compelling Jackie to give sworn testimony on what happened,
and exactly how she came up with the name "Haven Monahan",
under oath "To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth".
Or is that no longer "operative" when it comes to women?]

How Jackie, now with multiple false accounts,
convinced a judge as well as both sides of this litigation
that she’s a “victim” has yet to be explained.

Theorem: "Judge Glen Conrad" = "Puke of political correctness".
Proof: The above paragraph.]

Devastatingly, Locke produced interview audio in which
Erdely mentions the photo to Jackie
and says the supposed facial injuries resemble “something smeared,”
a substance, the reporter said, “looked like face paint.”

In response, Erdely downplayed the statement as merely
a manifestion of alleged abrasions that were “so bright.”

In early November, as the article was getting vetted,
an e-mail from proofreader Elizabeth Garber-Paul asked if
Erdely had received a last name or comment from the alleged rape ringleader.

She e-mailed back: “Unfortunately, the answer is no and no.”

Just a week or two earlier, late October,
Jackie was threatening to pull out of the story,
according to texts from Jackie’s friend Alex Pinkleton.

“I need to be clear about this,” Erdely texted back,
“there’s no pulling the plug at this point—the article is moving forward.”

It was October 24 when Erdely e-mailed her editor, Sean Woods:
“Fuck. Jackie is in full freakout mode right now.”

The next day, Erdely turned on the charm in an e-mail to Jackie:
“You’re about to make a difference. I know you can do this Jackie.
You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.
Give yourself a hug. Everything is going to work out fine.”

A separate Erdely email to Rolling Stone’s photo editor noted that
“Jackie is in not-great mental shape right now.”

Didn’t Erdely realize that Jackie had PTSD? Locke demanded.

“I’m not a doctor,” replied Erdely.
“I have no qualms about building my lede around someone who is emotionally fragile.”

But wasn’t this a mistake in this instance, Locke demanded.

“It wasn’t a mistake to rely on someone [so] emotionally fragile,”
Erdely said softly on the witness stand,
as her voice broke and tears flowed in an otherwise silent courtroom.
“It was a mistake to rely on someone who was intent to deceive me.”

Locke pointed out that Eramo had brought police to speak with Jackie,
but later let that get removed from an early draft of the story.
“A reader would have no idea that Dean Eramo took Jackie to meet with the police.”

“This article was not about how the university handles bottle incidents,” said Erdely.
“It was about how the university handles sexual assaults.”

At issue was the “rape school” quotation attributed to Eramo,
something that Erdely says, “Jackie told me twice, and I believed her.”

And Erdely conceded she had not strenuously attempted to verify—
though she points out that she learned that her planned meeting with Eramo was cancelled
as she was boarding a plane from Philadelphia to Charlottesville.

“UVA made it very clear,” testified Erdely,
“that I was going to have no access to Nicole Eramo.”

Erdely also unashamedly continued to criticize the university’s police
for laying out three judicial choices for rape victims,
an array that the reporter contends harms justice.

“Victim choice left Jackie, as it leaves many other victims,” said Erdely, “paralyzed.”

Locke read the second editor’s note which apologized to everyone “damaged” by the story
and repeatedly asked Erdely whether Eramo had been damaged.
Even after her lawyer, Scott Sexton, objected,
the judge allowed the question.

“I’m sure that her feelings were hurt,” was the most Erdely would offer,
well aware, as her lawyer pointed out,
that “damages” has a legal meaning in a libel trial.

Erdely acknowledged the hate mail Eramo received
but pointed out Eramo subsequently received a pay raise
and ascribed Eramo’s removal from working with students
to being found liable of violations of Title IX,
the law meant to protect women on campuses.
Pressed whether she stands by the story, Erdely didn’t hesitate.

“I stand by everything in the article that did not come from Jackie.”

[End of C-Ville story]

Erdely: “It was a mistake to rely on someone who was intent to deceive me”
Rolling Stone writer testifies about relationship with Jackie, reporting procedures
by Daniel Hoerauf and Tim Dodson
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-20

Reporter Sabrina Erdely answered questions on the stand
for over eight hours Thursday
in the fourth day of former Associate Dean Nicole Eramo’s defamation suit
against Rolling Stone magazine.


Erdely maintained her criticism of the University’s sexual assault policy, which she called “victim choice” — a policy in which she says alleged victims are neutrally presented with the options like informal and formal University investigations, as well as reporting to law enforcement.

Erdely said she fears “victim choice” leads to a “coddling” — a term which she later said she regretted using — of victims and an atmosphere in which victims are not encouraged to report sexual assaults to law enforcement.


Erdely said when Jackie refused to give the full name of her alleged attacker, she was more worried about losing Jackie as a source than confirming her story with her alleged attacker.

Although Erdely said she wanted the article to be “truthful and powerful,” she also said she “had a journalistic obligation to [her] source and protecting [her].”

[Evidently she did not feel “a journalistic obligation” her readers.
Pure agenda journalism.]


Locke later asked Erdely why a reference to Eramo arranging a meeting between Jackie and police was removed from an early draft of the article.

Erdely said it was cut for length, and that her understanding of the meeting was that it dealt with an incident in which Jackie claimed she was struck with a bottle in April 2014 on the Corner as a result of comments she had made about fraternities.


Eramo’s counsel finished their cross-examination of Erdely by asking if she felt the article damaged Eramo.

Erdely said she understood Eramo suffered emotional pain, but said she felt it did not damage her career because Eramo moved into a different position and received a pay raise.

A 2015 Title IX investigation which found the University to be a “hostile environment” was more damaging to Eramo’s career, Erdely alleged.

The cross-examination ended with Erdely saying she agreed her portrayal of Eramo was fair and accurate.

Day 5 - Friday, 2016-10-21

Day 5: A recording of ‘Jackie’ makes waves
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-21

Former Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely put in a third day on the stand Friday,
a day spent answering friendly questions from the defense in an effort to show how a veteran journalist could be been duped by a college girl named Jackie–
the centerpiece of a story that became a libel trial.

For over two hours,
the jury listened to an interview in which Jackie talks of “daddy issues”
that led her to become depressed.
College was supposed to provide a fresh start,
but barely a month into her freshman year, she was allegedly attacked.

She tells Erdely that she got a tattoo to brand herself a survivor.
As Erdely describes it,
it’s a women’s symbol with a fist, a rose, and the word “unbreakable.”

Rolling Stone defense lawyer Scott Sexton stops the audio to ask Erdely,
“Did it ever occur to you that someone would get a tattoo on their body
to commemorate a sexual assault that didn’t happen?”

Erdely’s voice shakes in reply: “Never.”

As the anniversary of her alleged September 28 attack neared,
Jackie tells Erdely on the tape,
she’d have nightmares in which she pictures herself walking up stairs but telling herself, “Don’t go.”

“I’d sleep during the day and stay up all night
because I just couldn’t deal with the dark,” she said.

“I reverted to thoughts of suicide and self harm,” Jackie tells Erdely.
“You can run as fast as you can, but you can never get over it.
I still have nightmares.”

“She tells it in such a real and emotional way,”
Erdely says on the witness stand.
“She’s so conscientious with her details I could feel it.”

She wasn’t conscientious about every detail.

The jury hands a note to the judge.
They want to know what to make of Jackie’s varying pronunciations of the fraternity where she was allegedly raped.
The background noise is distracting,
but she seems to call it Chi Phi, Chi Psi, Pi Phi–
rarely, if ever, the one actually named in the story: Phi Psi.

Rolling Stone’s lawyer says he’d be happy to stipulate Phi Psi.
But Eramo attorney Libby Locke suddenly stands and demands that the jurors trust their own ears.

“It goes to credibility,” says Locke.

Judge Glen Conrad agrees.

The infamous rape school quotation came into the record
as Jackie can be heard telling the tale of what Dean Nicole Eramo, the plaintiff,
was quoted in the article saying about the UVA’s alleged penchant to bury rape statistics.

In Jackie’s words:
“She looked at me very solemnly and said, like,
‘Well, who would want to send their daughter to the rape school?'”

With her chin up and her gaze fixed firmly on Erdely,
Eramo lets a hint of a confident smile course across her lips,
as this pillar of her lawsuit–
that she never actually said it–
can be heard coming from the mouth of Jackie.

Later, Jackie can be heard telling Erdely about
running into two of her alleged rapists in the beverage section of Walmart
while she and a boyfriend were making a night-time search for spinach.
Erdely took the tale as more evidence of truth.

“Her level of specifificity just reinforced her believability,”
Erdely testified.
“She didn’t just run into them at Walmart;
she ran into them in the juice aisle.”

[We seem to have only two alternatives:
Either the rape actually happened, despite the evidence that it didn't,
or Jackie is one fantastic liar.
Which is it, feminists?
Remember the feminist line: "Women always tell the truth about rape."]

Jackie’s not on trial here,
as the judge and lawyers remind the jurors from time to time,
[But should she be? That's my question.]
but she seems to relish certain aspects of victimhood.
She enthuses about her 12-person UVA course on women & violence,
but she reserves her greatest enthusiasm for One Less,
a support group for female sexual assault survivors.

“I’m not in a sorority,” she tells Erdely.
But in One Less, she says, there are sorority-like get-togethers
where women share emotional “highs and lows.”

“All of us are really close,” Jackie tells Erdely.
“It’s a little sorority within itself.”

There almost seemed to be a little sorority within Erdely and Jackie.
The audio reveals the two talking of post-traumatic stress disorder
and swapping tales of psychologists, bio-feedback therapy, and migraine headaches–
all while as sporting events, music, and the sound of billiard balls clink in the background.

In court, Erdely testifies that Jackie, who speaks at a rapid clip,
seemed “outgoing and forthright” as well as “bubbly and enthusiastic.”

How this sister act will play with the jurors who appear to be in their 40s, 50s, and low 60s is unclear;
but the college student definitely made an impression on the reporter.

“It was like drinking form a firehose when you were with Jackie,”
Erdely testified.
“She just talked and talked.”

Jackie seems particularly talkative on the topic of “Becky,”
another woman that Jackie claims shared her story of getting raped at the same fraternity.

“She spoke like Spock from Star Trek,” says Jackie,
as Becky tells of going into a room with three men.

“They summoned another boy into the room,” continues Jackie,
“and I remember she used the word ‘summoned.'”

“What, was she carrying a thesaurus?” jokes Erdely,
impressed with the diction and the specificity of the tale.

Jackie notes that “Becky” acts formally, dresses in business casual,
and proceeds to say she was an unwilling participant in “forcible sexual intercourse.” And then leaves.

“She looks at her watch and was like, ‘I’ve got to get to class now.'”

Jackie, while admittedly more emotional than Becky–
who the defense lawyer suggests, may be fictitious–
is never heard in the audio protesting her role as the controversial story’s centerpiece.
And, Erdely testified, Jackie never asked the reporter to remove her.

“And after it came out,” said Erdely, “she was thanking me for the article.”

[End of C-Ville story.]

Day 6 - Saturday, 2016-10-22

Jury hears about moment the Rolling Stone's University of Virginia rape story unraveled


Erdely reached out again to Jackie and spoke with her early in the morning of December 5, 2014. She said she asked Jackie if she had gone to the police now that the story had come out to report the crime and that Jackie responded that it was not the right time.

"I was a little surprised," Erdely told the court. "A couple of other things struck me as odd. . .I was getting a little hinky feeling."

Erdely says that for the first time, Jackie expressed doubt about whether her alleged assailant was in the fraternity she had said he belonged to.

"I was just so startled. . .Here she was saying in such a casual way, "Oh yeah, maybe he wasn't in Phi Psi'."

Worried about the doubts Jackie was expressing, Erdely posed direct questions to her. The reporter's notes from that phone call were shown to the jury.

"Did he rape you at the Phi Psi house?


"Did he orchestrate your rape?


"Did it happen the way you told me it did?



When Erdely lost faith in 'Jackie's' story, 'the ground had shifted under me'
Daily Progress, 2016-10-22

Jurors made their way back into a Charlottesville federal courtroom Saturday morning
to hear further testimony from Sabrina Rubin Erdely
on the sixth day of a defamation lawsuit brought by University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo
against Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher
and Erdely, author of the November 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.”

For close to three and half hours, Erdely’s attorney, Scott Sexton,
continued his cross-examination of his client,
focusing on the steps she took when reporting “Jackie’s” story,
the then-student who claimed she was gang-raped by seven men at a fraternity house during her freshman year at UVa.

Jackie’s story served as the centerpiece of Erdely’s article.
Intense scrutiny and several investigations eventually debunked Jackie’s claims,
ultimately leading to the article’s retraction.

Much of Saturday’s testimony focused on Erdely’s initial belief in Jackie’s story —
from speaking to her on the phone, to meeting her for dinner
and then walking to the fraternity where the alleged rape was said to have happened.
Erdely said she never felt a reason to not believe Jackie,
particularly when seeing her reaction to the fraternity house.

“She stared at it, frozen,”
Erdely said, referring to the house.
“Her face had a look of terror and anger.
And then she turned around and collapsed into [her boyfriend’s] arms, sobbing.
I knew it was genuine.

“Something happened to her,” she added.
“I have no doubt she is a traumatized person.”

When asked about her personal feelings toward Eramo,
the former associate dean tasked with aiding student survivors of sexual assault,
Erdely said she always viewed her as a professional
and thought she had genuine concern for the students who came to her,
including Jackie.

“I had no reason to have any bad feelings toward Dean Eramo,”
Erdely told the court.
“I thought she had a really hard job.
She was trying to help students but was tied up by school policy.”

Erdely steadfastly maintained that Eramo was never the object of criticism in the article
but that the school’s policy of “victim’s choice” —
putting the onus on sexual assault survivors
to take their cases forward in the legal system —
was problematic.

“Jackie received the emotional support and kindness she needed,
but survivors need people to tell them they can report
and that they should report,” Erdely said.

Eramo is seeking $7.5 million from Erdely and the magazine
over her characterization in Erdely’s piece,
which was officially retracted in April 2015.
She alleges that her career, reputation, physical and mental health all suffered
when the article cast her as a callous and indifferent administrator
who sought to suppress claims of sexual assault.

When questioned about why she had not contacted
the man Jackie accused of orchestrating the gang rape,
Erdely said she did it out of compassion and respect for Jackie’s feelings.
In the article, Erdely addressed the issue but chalked it up to Jackie’s trauma
and said Jackie never gave her his full name.

“I thought Jackie was brave and heroic,
and I hoped readers would see her the same way,” said Erdely.

In the end, though, Erdely said
Jackie’s story lost credibility in her eyes when Jackie told her
she couldn’t remember which fraternity she was in at the time of the assault
nor the name of her alleged assailant after the story had already been published and had faced public skepticism.
Becoming emotional on the stand,
Erdely spoke about the exact moment she knew they would need to retract the story.

“I got off the phone with Jackie and I felt like the ground had shifted under me,” Erdely said.
“What I knew was that she had told me things that weren’t true.
She gave me a false name and might have been wrong about the fraternity.

“If I wasn’t sure about those things, then I couldn’t be sure about anything in her story.”

At the end of the cross examination, attorneys for Eramo brought forward a new witness,
Brian Head, a recent UVa graduate who was featured in Erdely’s article.
In his last year at UVa, Head was the president of One in Four,
an all-male sexual assault prevention and education club at the school.

Speaking about Eramo,
Head said he knew her through all four years of his education and advocacy work at UVa.
As he spoke about Eramo’s caring nature and ability to speak for the students to the administration,
Eramo became emotional at the table she shared with her attorneys.

“It seemed like Dean Eramo was a scapegoat for the administration,” he said.

Head also spoke about his frustration with the article and said
Erdely did not mention his role with One in Four
and seemed to focus on comments he made about UVa’s reputation as a “smart” college with a “partying” culture.

“I knew it was going to be critical of UVa,” Head said.
“But I wanted to paint a full picture of the advocacy work being done on Grounds.
I didn’t think it was highlighted at all. I felt it was dishonest.”

After the article was retracted, Head expressed frustration that advocacy work would be more difficult
and said survivors might now have a more difficult time getting people to believe their stories.

The trial will continue Monday morning with more testimony from Erdely.

Day 7 - Monday, 2016-10-24

Bad memory: Jackie testifies on Day 7 of Rolling Stone trial
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-24 : 10/24/16 at 5:47 PM

If “yes, to my great regret”
has become the stock answer for remorseful Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely,
then her protagonist in the now-discredited gang rape tale—
the one who sent a college into chaos two years ago—
has found a mantra of her own: “I don’t remember.”

Before a hushed courtroom in downtown Charlottesville,
a federal jury and a gallery of 24 spectators gathered Monday
to hear over two hours of Jackie bobbing and weaving around questions.

This wasn’t the chatty Jackie of yore,
the one who enthralled the visiting Erdely over dinner at the College Inn restaurant.
Or even the the deeply scarred Jackie who dove into radio silence
a month before Rolling Stone’s once-blockbuster article.

This was the Jackie whose memory couldn’t even be refreshed
by looking at text messages and emails from two years ago,
such as a text in which she claims that she was misrepresented.

“It says that I did,” she allows.

In the original article, the reporter accused UVA President Teresa Sullivan of over-invoking “I don’t know” as an answer,
but in the nearly three hours of audio-taped deposition,
Jackie said some version of this answer at least 50 times—before we lost count.

Some of the things Jackie can’t recall:
why she stopped responding to Erdely,
whether she backed out of the article,
whether she later agreed to be in it,
whether she claimed to get a sexually-transmitted disease from her alleged attack,
and how Erdely—as Jackie claimed in a note to a friend—
took “artistic license” and “sensationalized” her story.

“I can’t remember anything specific,” says Jackie.
“I just remember reading the article and thinking I wouldn’t have written it that way.”

The lawyer presses for more.

“It’s very difficult to explain, to articulate,” says Jackie.

As the one of the defense lawyers warned in the opening statement a week ago,
Jackie—though she reveals in the deposition that she’s now married to her childhood sweetheart—
”she’s a completely different person—like a shell.”

On the tape, she sniffs like Donald Trump at a debate.
Her lawyer, Palma Pustilnik, who has threatened legal action against a reporter contacting her client,
issued a blanket statement: “My client continues to have no comment in this matter.”

Surely, she would remember meeting with UVA Police over the criminal report she filed
after allegedly getting beaned with a beer bottle on the UVA Corner?

“I don’t remember,” she says. “I have PTSD.”

She declares that she didn’t want to file criminal charges.

The climax of the proceedings comes when she’s presented
a set of screenshots of text messages she’d emailed Erdely.
Ostensibly from two friends and fellow rape survivors,
the women were adamant about not being interviewed,
and the lawyer asked if Jackie clandestinely created the text messages.

The reply: “I can’t remember.”

“You can’t remember one way or another?”
gasped the bewildered barrister,
who then asked if she wished, under penalty of perjury,
to deny making the messages.

“I just don’t remember any of this,” replied Jackie. “It’s foggy.”

The day ended with a blistering examination of Elisabeth Garber-Paul, the Rolling Stone fact-checker.

‘Jackie’ said she felt pressured to remain part of article
Daily Progress, 2016-10-24

For the first time, jurors in the multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone
have heard testimony straight from the mouth of the former University of Virginia student
who still maintains that she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity house during her freshman year.

“Jackie,” the woman whose claim of being gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house formed the lead narrative of “A Rape on Campus,”
underwent a deposition earlier this year in lieu of providing live testimony in Charlottesville’s federal court.

While she did say she felt pressured into remaining a part of the November 2014 article, penned by author Sabrina Rubin Erdely,
she responded to many questions with a simple, “I don’t remember.”

Jackie’s deposition,
some final testimony from Erdely
and the opening testimony from one of Rolling Stone’s fact checkers
took up the seventh day of trial for the lawsuit...


Roughly three hours of Jackie’s deposition video was played for the court,
despite attorneys for Eramo having requested a lengthier session.
The jurors were told Monday that portions of the video had been redacted —
an unsurprising revelation, given the amount of debate from counsel on all sides about her level of participation in the case.

Judge Glen Conrad noted before the video that
Jackie’s confidentiality in the case was “of some importance,”
given the ambiguity of her status as a sexual assault survivor.
As such, the public and press in the courtroom were unable to view the tape,
although its audio could be heard.

Of the three hours played, Jackie frequently stated that
she could not remember events surrounding the article’s release.
When pressed, Jackie said she’d developed post-traumatic stress disorder
as a result of her alleged 2012 sexual assault,
which in turn had severely affected her memory.

That said, Jackie did state that
she’d become “uncomfortable” with having the account of assault being featured in the article
weeks before it hit newsstands.
According to her testimony, Jackie said she was “unaware of the scope of the article,”
believing that it would be more centered on “advocacy” for sexual assault victims.

When Jackie found out her alleged assault would be the article’s “focal point,”
she became distressed and stopped responding to Erdely’s phone calls.

“I just remember feeling upset,” Jackie said.
“I remember feeling scared and overwhelmed and unsure of what to do.”

At that point, Jackie testified, she no longer wanted to participate in the article,
but she began feeling pressured by
messages she received from Erdely either directly or through friends.
One text, sent from Erdely to one of Jackie’s friends,
said there was “no pulling the plug” on the article —
Jackie interpreted this as Erdely saying it was too late to back out.

Asked if she expressed these concerns to Erdely or the magazine,
Jackie said, “I don’t remember.”

In the weeks before the article was published,
Jackie confirmed that she met with Eramo,
worried that the piece might “misrepresent” Eramo.
Jackie said she cared for Eramo
and she was afraid Erdely was “intent on portraying Dean Eramo in a negative light.”

“I believed Ms. Erdely was concerned about the [UVa] administration as a whole,
and Nicole Eramo was a part of that,” Jackie testified.

Asked about Eramo and Jackie’s initial contact with one another,
Jackie stated that Eramo was prepared to help Jackie pursue justice against her alleged attackers,
but that Eramo still gave deference to Jackie’s choice —
an aspect essential to her position, Jackie said.

“She didn’t pressure me to do anything,
which is what she’s supposed to do,” Jackie said.

From here,
Jackie was asked a multitude of questions about her 2012 assault and all that came after it,
much of which she said she could not remember.
In the course of Erdely’s reporting
[Is this information from the article, Erdely's notes, or some other source?],
Jackie told Erdely about several student survivors of sexual assault
who, upon later investigation,
could not be verified as having actually existed.
Asked if she had invented those people,
Jackie provided no conclusive answers.

When asked under oath if she still affirmed
the account she had told Rolling Stone about her assault —
despite its inconsistencies with what she’d told Eramo and others at UVa —
Jackie said she “stood by” her account to Erdely,
later saying she “believed it to be true at the time.”

Asked again about the discrepancies between the accounts she’d told Erdely and Eramo,
Jackie responded that her post-traumatic stress disorder
had made the details of her assault “foggy,”
and that the “levels of specificity” she’d provided in each retelling of the story
“differed from person to person.”

When asked specifically about a quote from the article in which
Jackie said Eramo told her “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school,”
Jackie said that Erdely had taken her comment out of context.
What Eramo had meant by that, Jackie said, was that
no school makes their sexual assault statistics readily available
for fear that they may be labeled “the rape school.”
Eramo had never intended for that comment to be about UVa specifically, Jackie said.

As much as she defended Eramo in her deposition,
Jackie also partially stuck up for Erdely,
saying that she thought Erdely “did her best to reflect what I told her.”

After Jackie’s relatively less-than-illuminating deposition,
counsel for Eramo questioned Elisabeth Garber-Paul,
a fact checker for Rolling Stone who reviewed Erdely’s story.


Erdely Testimony Ends After Nearly 5 Days on Stand
NBC 29, 2016-10-24


The plaintiff’s attorney brought up an email from September 17, 2014,
where Erdely asks for someone who had seen Jackie's injuries from the gang rape,

she never asked why Jackie's story went from oral to vaginal rape.
Erdely testified, "I didn't consider it an important question."


Erdely stepped down from the witness stand around 11:10 a.m.

Attorneys for the plaintiff are now playing for the jury a recorded deposition Jackie gave.
The video contains Thomas Clare, one of Eramo's attorneys,
asking Jackie questions about her story and the article.

Clare asked Jackie why she wrote a support letter to Eramo in the Cavalier Daily.
Jackie replied,
"I wanted to show my supporter of her.
At the time she was very supportive. I cared about her."

Clare also mentions a warning text Jackie sent to her friend, Annie Forrest,
saying to be careful speaking with Erdely because she thought
the author takes things out of context.

In the tape, Jackie can be heard answering "I don't know"
to many questions about the Rolling Stone article.
She also again states being uncomfortable with being the focal point of the piece,
and considered getting out of it.

“I felt overwhelmed and stressed,
and I felt like I was getting pressure from a lot of different people,"
said Jackie in the tape.

When asked by Clare if she stands by her account, Jackie said
"I stand by the account to Rolling Stone.
I believe it to be true at the time."

Jackie explained discrepancies in her story
by saying it depended on her comfort level for sharing with a person.
She said several times, "some of the details are foggy,”
and that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Defense attorney Elizabeth McNamara cross examined Jackie after Clare.

McNamara pointed to positive comments Jackie made about Eramo
that were in the published version of the article.
Jackie said,
“She [Erdely] did her best to reflect what I told her [in article].”

On redirect with Clare, Jackie said of Eramo,
"she wanted to see the university in a better place.
She always left that door very open to me.”

Jackie admitted to reading part of Liz Securro's 2011 book,
“Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice.”
The book is about Securro’s life being put in turmoil
after receiving a letter of apology from the man who raped her in 1984,
back when she was a 17-year-old student at UVA.

Attorneys stopped Jackie’s video deposition tape a little before 3:30 p.m.
Jackie is not expected to actually be in the courtroom for this lawsuit.


Despite Overwhelming Evidence, UVA Jackie Is Still Defending Her Gang Rape Story
by Blake Neff
Daily Caller, 2016-10-24

Jackie Coakley, the woman behind a bogus gang rape allegation at the University of Virginia (UVA),
says she was heavily pressured by Rolling Stone to have her story published.
She also still stands behind her claim to have been date-raped,
despite overwhelming evidence that it is not true.

Coakley made her claims in a videotaped deposition,
which was shown Monday as part of a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone.

But despite these revelations, Coakley still wouldn’t back away from her gang rape claim.

“I stand by the account I gave to Rolling Stone. I believed it to be true at the time,”
she said during the deposition, which was recorded last April.
Coakley defended flaws in her story by saying her memory was “foggy”
due to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Coakley also said she was pressured to tell her story by an aggressive Erdely,
who took advantage of her own ignorance.
She initially expected her story
to just be a small part of a larger story Erdely was working on,
and said she was “scared and overwhelmed”
to discover Erdely had made the story all about her.

“I was 20 years old and had no idea there was an off-the-record or an on-the-record,”
Coakley said. “I was naive.”

When Coakley expressed her concerns to Erdely through a friend a few weeks before publication,
Erdely bluntly replied in a text message that it was too late
and there was “no pulling the plug.”
“I felt like I was getting a lot of pressure from a lot of people
to do things I didn’t want do,” Coakley said in the deposition.

In her own trial testimony,
Erdely claimed that she didn’t force Coakley to be in the story,
and argued that her “pulling the plug” remark was about the UVA story more generally.
If Coakley had insisted on not being in the piece, she said,
she would have used a different student’s story as the centerpiece.

The matter of whether Erdely forced Coakley to proceed despite her own doubts
is critical to the lawsuit.
To win against Rolling Stone, Eramo must show that
the magazine acted with “actual malice”
by publishing allegations against her that it either knew were false,
or should have known if not for its own egregious negligence.

Coakley isn’t testifying in-person at the trial.

Jackie comes to Eramo’s defense
Erdely, Rolling Stone fact-checker take stand
by Anna Higgins and Maggie Servais
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-24

Jackie, the center of the debunked 2014 article “A Rape on Campus,” shared her version of events via taped deposition Monday in former Associate Dean Nicole Eramo’s $7.85 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Wenner Media, Inc.

At the time of the article, Jackie was an active student — a member of the advocacy group One Less, a co-founder of Students Helping Honduras and a volunteer with Madison House, according to her deposition. She even shared her story of an alleged assault at the annual Take Back the Night event. Jackie left the University following the article’s publication, and has maintained a low profile ever since.

Before the jury heard from Jackie, Erdely, the author of the article, took the stand for the third day. Erdely finished testifying Saturday, but returned for cross-examination from Libby Locke, Eramo’s attorney.


In reference to Erdely’s earlier testimony,
Locke asked Erdely if she had any ill will or malice toward Eramo,
to which Erdely responded she did not.
Locke then cited an audio in which Erdely explicitly expressed how mad she was with Eramo.

“I was upset … I was working under the misguided impression that
Dean Eramo had authority in punishments [of sexual assault],” Erdely said.
“That doesn’t mean I have any personal malice toward Dean Eramo.”

Erdely also failed to verify a particularly damning quote attributed to Eramo in the original article —
that Eramo referred to the University as “the rape school.”
Erdely said she believed the quote to be fair and accurate when the article was published
but could not know whether it is now.

[Question: Why did "she believe[] the quote to be fair and accurate when the article was published"?
What has happened since then to change her mind?]

Jackie also addressed the infamous “rape school” quote in her deposition,
of which the audio recording was played before the court.

“I don’t remember verbatim this conversation,” Jackie said.
“It was not something only about U.Va.”


Following Erdely’s cross-examination, the court played Jackie’s deposition.
Jackie has refrained from revealing her full identity publicly.
She has since married; she was dating her now-husband at the time the article was written, according to her deposition.

Throughout much of the testimony,
Jackie said she was unable to remember details of her correspondence with many people
due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
These people included Erdely, Eramo and Ryan Duffin, her friend at the time of the alleged assault.
Duffin was among the friends Erdely failed to contact for the article.

“I have told multiple people different levels of specificity about one experience,”
Jackie said in her deposition.
“There have always been some things that I remember
and some things I really don’t know if I remember.”

Jackie emphasized her faith in Eramo throughout her testimony,
explaining that she felt Eramo cared about her well-being
and wanted her to understand of all her options.

“She did what an advocate is supposed to do,” Jackie said.
“She did make it very clear that I had the right to choose what I wanted to do.”

After Jackie’s two-hour deposition, Elisabeth Garber-Paul,
a fact-checker for the Rolling Stone article,
took the stand to answer questions from the plaintiff’s counsel.
Many of the questions surrounded the notes she had written on drafts of the article.


Hear U-Va.’s ‘Jackie’ testify about Rolling Stone’s gang rape story
By T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post, 2016-10-26

[The embedded ~4 minute video in this story (also embedded below)
includes audio of some key questions from attorney Clare and "Jackie"s responses to them.
Mainly "I don't remember".

The Washington Post article also helpfully includes
"the transcript of Jackie’s deposition that was entered into evidence in federal court;
it is the transcript of the audio recording that was played for the jury in open court."]

[From the article:]

The trembling voice that filled the courtroom Monday did not resemble
the confident, intelligent and empowered young woman
who spoke at length to The Post about the details of her assault.

Though she has said she stands by the account Rolling Stone published,
she now says that she has has post-traumatic stress disorder
and no longer recalls many aspects of her attack.

[Hey, now she is in a position where she can be found legally liable for falsehoods.]

[Among the comments to the Post article is the following,
which seems to me to be pretty on-target:]

5:04 PM EST

By now it's quite obvious what's happening here.
Jackie is angling to avoid being sued after the upcoming Phi Kappa Psi lawsuit.
This trial is providing ample ammunition for that lawsuit.
Everything is being laid open,
and the most damning is the recording where Jackie and Erdley acknowledge
they want to pin this on the fraternity brothers and "get them."

Jackie's convenient memory loss serves to shield her from liability.
She is on legal thin ice.
Her memory loss could help her claim
she can no longer confirm what she originally said to Erdley.
Erdley says Jackie told her X, Y and Z.
Jackie now claims she doesn't remember anything.
She'll be off the hook, and when called to testify,
she'll repeat her claim of memory loss and self-diagnosed PTSD.

[Another on-the-mark comment:]

9:10 AM EST [Edited]

That testimony certainly sounds coached....
I know I certainly don't believe that
she recalled the details very clearly when interviewed by Ederly,
but now, recalls nothing at all.

Day 8 - Tuesday, 2016-10-25

Day 8: Rolling Stone fact checker, Jackie’s friends testify
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-25

For a second day,
former Rolling Stone fact-checker Elisabeth Garber-Paul
took the stand to explain
why she believed Jackie, the student whose fake gang rape story sent the University of Virginia campus into uproar two years ago.

“She seemed to really care about getting this story right,”
testified Garber-Paul.
“She was totally comfortable with having her peers know
she was the Jackie in the story.”

Unlike other witnesses in this trial, now in its eighth day,
Garber-Paul turns directly toward the jury to explain that
she conducted a pair of two-hour conversations with Jackie.

“Four hours in one week is a lot for a college student,”
Garber-Paul testified.

The fact-checker said documentation supplied by reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely
included a 431-page file including contemporary emails, alleged injury photos,
and the transcript of congressional testimony about Jackie’s ordeal
from the UVA administrator who had first introduced Jackie to the Rolling Stone reporter.

But the witness said it wasn’t just written records
that seemed to validate the story;
it was also Jackie’s way of recounting her alleged rape.

“It was like she had these snapshots in her head– 360-degree memories,”
said Garber-Paul.

The images seemed so clear, vivid and painful
that Jackie seemed at one point to be losing her breath,
and Garber-Paul offered to pause the process.

“She said, ‘Let’s keep going.'”

The fact-checker said the college student spoke as someone recounting a terrifying ride.

“It was like she could close her eyes and see what was going on at every stop,” said Garber-Paul.
“I believed everything in the article to be absolutely accurate.”

After lunch, the plaintiff fired back
by blasting the decision not to reach out to Jackie’s former friend Kathryn Hendley, or “Cindy,”
whom the article quoted as calling herself a “hookup queen”
and supposedly telling Jackie she should have enjoyed getting raped.

“Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy is quoted in the story.
“A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?”

“Those quotes were too perfect, weren’t they?”
demanded plaintiff’s attorney Andy Phillips.
“You didn’t contact her because you knew she’d deny them, didn’t you?”

The fact-checker disagreed.
The lawyer then suggested that Garber-Paul should have noticed that
Jackie was hiding witnesses who could corroborate her story.

“Isn’t that a giant, waving, red flag?” asked Phillips.

“I didn’t realize that she was in any way preventing us,” replied Garber-Paul.

However, the lawyer refused to retreat and reminded her that
Jackie must have possessed contact information for her former friends.
Finally, Garber-Paul agreed that Jackie may have been stonewalling.

“This is not specialized fact-checker information,” concluded Phillips.
“This is common sense.”

The afternoon included testimony from two police officers revealing that
Jackie refused to cooperate in their attempts to criminally investigate her alleged gang rape or a subsequent tossed-bottle incident.

But the bulk of the afternoon was consumed by playing video depositions
of two of Jackie’s former friends, Kathryn Hendley and Ryan Duffin.
Both testified that the Rolling Stone article departed in dramatic fashion
from their memories of the aftermath of Jackie’s fateful date.

Each said that Jackie had trumpeted her plan to meet up with her mysterious suitor, “Haven Monahan,” on September 28, 2012, the night of her alleged gang rape.
Jackie would claim that Monahan then orchestrated a five-man assault
in which Jackie was forced to perform oral sex.

It was a bizarre climax to a month, the friends testified, of catfishing,
creating fake messages in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to woo Duffin by making him jealous.

Hendley and Duffin disputed key details in the Rolling Stone account,
saying they saw no blood or injuries on the friend
who would later claim herself the victim of
a three-hour, seven-man attack atop the shards of a smashed glass table.

“A complete fabrication” Duffin called the story,
while Hendley– aka Cindy– called Rolling Stone’s account
“a fictionalized version of my life.”

In the video, laughing off her portrayal as the callous “hookup queen,”
Hendley reveals that when Erdely finally contacted her
a few weeks after the article came out,
she felt sorry for the reporter.

“I definitely understood,” she said, “what it was like to be lied to by Jackie.”

Article presented 'fictionalized version' of events, former friends of 'Jackie' say
Daily Progress, 2016-10-25

In the article that first exposed the world to her allegations of having been gang-raped by seven men in a fraternity house,
three former friends of “Jackie” are described as coming to the then-freshman’s aid on the night of her attack,
only to nudge her into staying silent.
Per the article,
“Randall, Andy and Cindy” were concerned that
Jackie would become the “girl who cried rape,”
thus prematurely hampering their social prospects.

[I hope that somewhere in this trial it can be discovered
where that statement came from: "Jackie" or Erdely.]

In Charlottesville’s federal court on Tuesday,
“Randall” and “Cindy” finally got to speak for themselves,
each stating unequivocally that
the depiction of that night in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s now-retracted piece
was not accurate,
and that Jackie “had a tendency to fabricate things.”

“Randall” and “Cindy,” however, are only pseudonyms —
because Erdely never actually spoke to Ryan Duffin or Kathryn Hendley
for her November 2014 article “A Rape on Campus,”
she decided to use different names for them in order to protect their identities.
["because ... she decided"? Is that not a non sequitor?]

Tuesday marked the eighth day of trial for the $7.5 million lawsuit ...

On Tuesday,
Eramo’s attorneys played the separate deposition videos of Duffin and Hendley,
each of whom spoke about the night in which
they found their then-friend Jackie “shaken”
by what she relayed to have been a sexual assault.
The majority of the details expressed in the article, however,
differed completely from their experiences that night.

In the first of the two videos,
Hendley disavowed all of the quotes attributed to her in Erdely’s story.
While reading portions of the article where she was named “Cindy,”
Hendley said it was “like a fictionalized version of [her] life.”

Specifically, she scoffed at a line in the article that said
she was a “self-described hookup queen”
and that she warned Jackie against reporting her rape
out of fear that she would be “the girl who cried rape.”

In actuality, Jackie didn’t tell Hendley on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, that she had been assaulted at all.
She only told that to Duffin and Alex Stock, the other two friends in their quartet,
while keeping Hendley in the dark.
Hendley didn’t know why Jackie seemed resistant to keeping her in the loop,
but she did recall that

the scene depicted in Erdely’s article
had the three friends meet a bloodied and disheveled Jackie
outside of the Phi Kappa Psi house where the assault allegedly occurred.
In reality,
the friends met an unhurt Jackie at UVa’s freshman dorms,
about a mile away,
and roughly three hours earlier than the article stated, Hendley said.

Hendley said she and Jackie didn’t remain friends much longer after that —
by the end of the following semester, Jackie had made up a rumor about Hendley, and the two stopped talking.
Years later, Hendley read the article
and said it was “shocking” to see Jackie’s allegations in a national magazine.

When Hendley did eventually speak to Erdely
[Only after publishing her defamatory words about Cindy/Hendley!],
who called her in the week after Rolling Stone said it had lost faith in Jackie’s story,
she remembered feeling sorry for the position that Jackie had put Erdely in.

“I understood what it’s like to be lied to by Jackie,”
Hendley said.

In Duffin’s deposition, he expressed a similar sympathy for Erdely,
saying the author was “very genuinely apologetic”
for having failed to contact them for the article.

Duffin appeared to have had a closer relationship to Jackie,
who had a romantic interest in Duffin that he did not reciprocate.
That may have led to the creation of “Haven Monahan,”
the man Jackie said had invited her on a date
only to lead her back to the Phi Psi for her alleged sexual assault.

Duffin recalled in his deposition that on the night of Sept. 28, 2012,
he had received a call from Jackie,
who asked that he meet her near the dorms on Alderman Road
because “something” had happened.
When he arrived, Duffin said Jackie “seemed a little shaken,”
but was otherwise unharmed.

At the time, Jackie told Duffin and Stock
that during their date,
“Haven Monahan” brought Jackie to his room at the fraternity house
where five men were waiting.
Per Jackie’s story, the men then forced Jackie to give them oral sex.

Taking her story to be true,
Duffin said he and Stock encouraged Jackie to immediately contact authorities but said Jackie refused to do so.

The multiple statements, as represented in the article,
about the trio encouraging Jackie to do just the opposite
were entirely false,

Duffin said,
as were the assertions
that he refused to participate in the article.

Duffin also stated that before her alleged assault,
he and Stock were encouraged by Jackie to exchange text messages with “Haven Monahan,”
whom they were told was a third-year student at UVa who was trying to woo Jackie.
They acquiesced, to bizarre results.

“It felt kind of weird, but we saw it as a strange way to help out a friend,” he said.

Over time, it became clearer to Duffin that “Haven Monahan” did not actually exist —
rather, he was invented by Jackie in what he called a “catfishing” scheme to win Duffin’s heart.
Eramo’s attorneys have said as much in their court filings.
In the weeks following Jackie’s alleged assault,
Duffin began to uncover that
there was no “Haven Monahan” at UVa or at any of the organizations that Jackie had purported him to be involved with.
When Duffin called Jackie out for this possible scheme,
their friendship began to dissolve.

Tuesday also saw the final testimony from a fact-checker at Rolling Stone,
as well as two police officers who spoke with Jackie
after she was allegedly assaulted with a beer bottle in the spring of 2014.

On Wednesday, UVa Dean of Students Allen Groves is expected to testify,
along with Rolling Stone editor Sean Woods.

Day 9 - Wednesday, 2016-10-26

Day 9: UVA believed Jackie, too, say witnesses
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-10-26

Attorneys for plaintiff Nicole Eramo
called her former boss, Dean of Students Allen Groves,
to the stand October 26 to bolster her claims that
she was unfairly portrayed as a callous administrator to victims of sexual assault
in Rolling Stone’s article, “A Rape on Campus.”

“My first impression, and it remains my impression,
it painted a picture of Nicole as someone who was cavalier, no pun intended,”
as someone who suppressed statistics and who was not advocating for students,
Groves said of the November 2014 article.

Student trust of administrators is “hugely important,” said Groves,
and that was why Eramo was removed from her position as sexual assault intake counselor after the article was published.
“Not because I did not believe she was anything but capable,” said Groves.
“My fear was the perception of the student body was that she was not.”

Groves was aware that
Jackie had reported her alleged September 2012 assault to Eramo
months later on May 20, 2013.

And in April 2014,
after she’d allegedly been beaned by a bottle thrown in retaliation for
her advocacy work among assault survivors,
Jackie came back to Eramo
and reported two other women had similar experiences at Phi Kappa Psi,
he testified.

On April 22, 2014, “Jackie said she was willing to talk to police,” said Groves.
“I was ecstatic.”
That euphoria quickly waned when Jackie said
the detective she talked to was “aggressive”
and she refused to name her assailant.

“I was angry that Jackie would not tell us this guy’s name,” said Groves.
“I couldn’t understand how you could have that violent an act and not take action.”

Under cross-examination, when Groves was questioned about
a September 17, 2014, text Eramo sent to Jackie and Alex Pinkleton
that said the university was “flat-out fucked”
because of Hannah Graham and the upcoming Rolling Stone article,
Groves paused for an emotional moment.

“That was a very difficult fall for us, the most difficult I’ve encountered,”
he said. “Sorry.”

He said if he’d known about that text and another in which
Eramo referred to some of her survivor students as her “awesome bitches,”
he would have advised her,
“I’d prefer you don’t use that language in talking with students.”

Groves acknowledged that the university was already under fire for its handling of sexual assault cases, and the Office of Civil Rights had begun an investigation in April 2011.

When reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely e-mailed Eramo for an interview, Groves wrote,
“I’d prefer not to do it at all.
In my opinion, Rolling Stone has not been objective in recent years.
The description of hypotheticals, OCR, specific cases, etc.,
leads me to believe this is a hatchet job.”

That same fall, UVA’s alumni magazine also was working on a story about
how UVA handles sexual assault,
and Groves was sent a draft to edit, he said.

The article began with Emily Renda’s assault as a first-year after getting drunk.
“My case is a fairly typical campus sexual assault story,” she’s quoted as saying.
“How can this be a ‘typical’ experience at our nation’s institutions for higher education,”
questioned the piece, which noted that
no one has ever been expelled for rape at the university,
a fact also included in the Rolling Stone article.

The alumni magazine story was killed.

Groves said he believed Jackie until the Rolling Stone article came out.
So did associate dean Laurie Casteen.
And so did Alex Pinkleton, according to their testimony.

Pinkleton, a sexual assault advocate active in One Less and a 2016 UVA grad,
was a close friend to Jackie—at least before the article.
Initially, she said, she was excited about the story
because she wanted to draw attention to rape culture on campus and raise awareness.
She said 90 percent of her comments to Erdely were about that,
but she was quoted in the article as talking about
how “hot girls” can get into fraternities.

“Obviously I was offended,” said Pinkleton.

“I”m very critical of UVA, but Dean Eramo is not part of that,” said Pinkleton,
who said she respected Eramo and babysat for her.
And she said she was concerned about how Erdely would portray Eramo.

Pinkleton said she encouraged Jackie to stay involved in the story
“because it’s important to control your story.”
And she said she’d never questioned Jackie’s story.
“I just validated what she said. That’s what advocates do.”

During cross-examination,
when describing her reaction to the article and how it portrayed Eramo,
Pinkleton began crying.
The judge ordered a short break.

When she came back, she said she was critical of how UVA handled sexual assault after Jackie’s tale of being raped by seven men at Phi Psi, and wrote in a 2014 e-mail,
“They can investigate and notify students. That’s inexcusable.”

Pinkleton said she is represented by the same firm representing Eramo, Clare Locke, which helped her prepare for testimony for several hours.
“The reason I did was because Rolling Stone subpoenaed my e-mails for two years,” she said.

Illustrator John Ritter, who did the now-notorious illustration
that Eramo said made her “look like the devil,”
testified that he had altered her eyes because they were downcast
and not looking at the student figure he’d photoshopped into his illustration.

Jurors got to see other illustrations he’s done,
including one of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine,
whose eyes are altered, as well.

Rolling Stone deputy managing editor Sean Woods was the last witness of the day,
and attorney Libby Locke grilled him on the decisions he made in editing Erdely’s story,
including cutting out a section about Eramo taking Jackie to the police.

“You didn’t see that as relevant?” asked Locke.

“I disagree with that characterization,” said Woods.

[Than why did it get cut from a 9,000 word article?]

Eramo’s team expects to finish with its witnesses tomorrow.

Outside the federal courthouse, Locke said it was another good day in court
with Groves and Pinkleton testifying about how they read the article
“as a negative portrayal” of Eramo.

Rolling Stone’s attorney David Paxton seemed equally pleased.
“Through this part of the trial, we’ve heard no evidence there was any actual malice.”

Clarification 10:26 am October 27:
Alex Pinkleton’s criticism of UVA’s handling of Jackie’s alleged rape was from a 2014 e-mail,
about which she testified in court

UVa's dean of students describes frustrations with 'Jackie,' Rolling Stone
Daily Progress, 2016-10-26

Attorneys for University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo said they might only need one more day to finish presenting evidence in their $7.5 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

That estimate comes after the ninth day in court over claims made in Erdely’s November 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.” The piece was retracted in April 2015 after its centerpiece story of “Jackie,” a then-student who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity house in 2012, was discredited by several sources and an investigation from Charlottesville police.

Eramo, an associate dean tasked with providing support for student survivors of sexual assault at the time of publication, alleges the piece cast her as the “chief villain” who attempted to suppress the student survivors’ claims.

Eramo’s former boss, UVa Dean of Students Allen Groves,
was the first to take the stand in Charlottesville’s federal court on Wednesday morning.
Groves said that, after the article’s release,
there was concern over whether Eramo should continue to work with students
out of a fear that the article may have reshaped her reputation as an advocate.

Taking questions from Rolling Stone’s attorneys, Groves defended the administration’s handling of Jackie’s case.
The Department of Education requires universities
to “take reasonable action” in investigating claims of sexual assault
even when the victim doesn’t want to report, as was the case with Jackie.

The magazine’s counsel worked to show that UVa had not done so with Jackie,
giving credence to Erdely’s insinuations in her article,
but Groves disagreed, saying that the “decision was made [By whom?] to try to support Jackie”
and hope that more information would come forward over time.

After she was allegedly hit by a bottle in retaliation for
speaking out about her sexual assault in spring of 2014,
Jackie spoke again with Eramo and UVa administrators,
telling them this time that she’d found two other young women
who had been gang-raped at the same fraternity as she was.
At the time, Jackie also said she planned to have a meeting with police about the bottle incident.

Groves said he reported all of this information to UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan
and said he was “ecstatic” that Jackie was finally going to police
because it meant that a criminal inquiry into the whole ordeal might finally be initiated.

“My perception was that this was now going to the police realm,” Groves said.

Later that spring, Groves was beyond disappointed to find that
Jackie did not want the investigation into her assault to go forward
and that the criminal case had been closed.

At this point,
Groves was the “most frustrated” he’d ever been in his position as dean of students,
saying that, without Jackie giving any further details about her assault,
there was little he could do.

“I was angry Jackie would not give us the names [of her attackers],”
Groves said. “I couldn’t understand.”

Groves said he considered launching his own investigation,
but he worried about “tipping off” the fraternity
in case the city’s prosecutor wanted to launch his own investigation.
On top of that, Groves said that if he took action against the fraternity,
it could continue operating, just without the sanction of the university,
and Groves would lose his “leverage” over them.

Before leaving the stand, Groves said he believed the article to be “over-the-top”
and “designed to make an almost comic demonization” of Eramo and UVa.
Counsel for Eramo also had him review an email he sent to Eramo ahead of her scheduled interview with Erdely,
in which he advised against any participation at all, fearing the story might be “a hatchet job.”

Later in the day, Alex Pinkleton,
a former friend of Jackie who acted as a “liaison” between her and Erdely,
testified about her participation in the article.
An advocate herself, Pinkleton emphatically spoke about her enthusiasm for the article prior to publication.

“I wanted a piece that would talk about the nuances of rape culture,”
Pinkleton said, later stating, “but that’s not the article that came out.”

The resulting piece was far from it, in Pinkleton’s eyes.
While she’d hoped the article would speak mostly about advocacy,
Pinkleton said she was disheartened to see that she was only quoted in the article
speaking about the best way to get into a frat party.

Pinkleton spoke sweetly about the closeness of her relationship with Eramo,
echoing most statements made by student advocates from UVa, including Jackie.
When an attorney for the magazine noted that
Erdely’s piece didn’t attribute any direct quote critical of Eramo to her,
Pinkleton became emotional,
saying students lashed out at her for supporting the then-vilified dean.

“People were angry at me for supporting ‘the devil,’”
Pinkleton said before breaking into sobs.

Eramo, too, began to cry.

A freelance illustrator who created the art that accompanied “A Rape on Campus” also spoke Wednesday.
John Ritter, in a video deposition filmed earlier this year,
confirmed he created the image that Eramo’s attorneys have frequently referenced
as a demeaning depiction of her,
but he seemed relatively detached from the case,
speaking mostly about technical reasons behind his illustration.

The day closed with some testimony from Sean Woods,
Rolling Stone’s deputy managing editor and the man who presided over Erdely’s piece.
Similar to Erdely’s testimony,
Woods fell on his sword repeatedly in regard to
glaring faults in following up with sources in the story,
but he defended the gist of the article and its implications about Eramo and the UVa administration’s handling of sexual assault.

Taking aggressive questions from one of Eramo’s attorneys,
Woods frequently refrained, “I disagree with that characterization.”

Woods will continue to testify when the trial picks up on Thursday morning.
Attorneys for Eramo say that Thursday may conclude the presentation of their evidence.

When asked for an assessment of Wednesday’s proceedings,
an attorney for Rolling Stone stated, as they’ve said for several days,
that Eramo’s attorneys had yet again failed to prove actual malice on Erdely’s part —
the crux of their defense in this case.

U.Va. survivor condemns Rolling Stone, defends Eramo on stand
Editor Sean Woods says he regrets way article was handled
by Hailey Ross and Xara Davies
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-26

“She was there for survivors, 100 percent,” Alex Pinkleton
said of former Associate Dean Nicole Eramo Wednesday
before a courtroom of jurors, legal counsel and spectators.
Pinkleton’s testimony was part of the ongoing trial for the $7.5 million lawsuit Eramo filed against Rolling Stone Magazine, Wenner Media, Inc. and Sabrina Rubin Erderly, author of the 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.”

While a student, Pinkleton was the outreach chair for One Less,
a sexual advocacy group at the University,
and heavily involved with Take Back the Night.
In the spring of 2014, she reported her sexual assault experience online.
That was when she first encountered Eramo and formed a friendship with her.

“She became a huge support for me,” Pinkleton said.
“I ended up babysitting her son.”

Pinkleton was also a friend of Jackie —
the central figure of Erdely’s article —
at the time Jackie was involved with the story.

Throughout her direct examination, Pinkleton said she was upset with the way both herself and Eramo were portrayed by Erdely in the article.
In fact, Pinkleton said she saw the way she was characterized in the article —
a third-year “expertly clad in the U.Va.-after-dark uniform of a midriff-baring sleeveless top and shorts” —
as Erdely’s way of trying to draw parallels between University student Hannah Graham, who was last seen wearing a black crop top.

Graham, then a second-year College student, disappeared in September 2014,
and her body was found a month later in Albemarle County.
Jesse Matthew Jr. pleaded guilty to the murders of Graham and Morgan Harrington in March.
“A Rape on Campus” referenced Graham’s death and Matthew’s prior sexual assault charges.
“Clearly [Erdely] was trying to paint me as someone I wasn’t,” Pinkleton said.
“I’m not an expert on how to get into frats — I can get into frats …
I consider myself more of an expert of survivor help.”

Pinkleton admitted the quotes attributed to her in the article were accurate,
but also said 90 percent of her conversations with Erdely revolved around advocacy
and the influencing factors of “rape culture” at the University.
In fact, Pinkleton said she was excited for the article to be published because she thought it would expose problems with the University’s sexual assault reporting process.

“I was still under the impression this would be something helpful for the advocacy community,” Pinkleton said.
“Those were my feelings at the time.”

Pinkleton teared up while facing the jury and talking about the public’s negative reaction to Eramo after the article was published.

“People were very angry at me for supporting the ‘devil,’”
Pinkleton said while choking up,
before U.S. District Court Judge Glen Conrad ordered a break to allow her to compose herself.

Some community members still hold these feelings.
Just last week, Eramo was called a “rape apologist"
while she was outside the courtroom on lunch break.

Pinkleton became overwhelmed with emotion for a second time when Elizabeth McNamara, Rolling Stone’s attorney,
had her read a letter she sent to Eramo after the debunked article was published.

“People weren’t there for you so f—k them,” Pinkleton said before beginning to cry. McNamara continued reading it for her,
“You’re one of the strongest, most generous people I know, and f—k Rolling Stone for trying to paint the picture otherwise.”

As a part of the letter, McNamara read that Pinkleton wished Eramo “cheers to a successful lawsuit.”

Dean of Students Allen Groves also testified Wednesday morning.
Groves said he had a favorable opinion of Eramo’s job performance,
and he too disagreed with the way she was portrayed in the article.
“It painted Eramo as indifferent, cavalier, suppressing statistics,” Groves said.
“A view of the environment as unsafe and not advocating for students.”

Title IX policy states that regardless of whether a victim of sexual assault wants to pursue formal or informal charges, the University is still required to investigate the information.
Groves said it was difficult to conduct an investigation because of the limited information Jackie provided.

“[Jackie] was unwilling to give [the] name of attacker, was uncertain of the fraternity and so, based on that, [Eramo] supported Jackie and did not conduct an investigation,” Groves said.
Groves said he was frustrated with Jackie for her unwillingness to provide the facts needed to take action.

Rolling Stone’s deputy managing editor Sean Woods was the last to take the stand.
Woods, who was also the assigning editor for “A Rape on Campus,”
affirmed there are no written policies about how fact-checking should be conducted at Rolling Stone.

“I thought it was clear to the reader that it was all Jackie’s recollection. I’ve been criticized for this,” Woods said.
“I really regret the way I handled this.”

Following Pinkleton’s time on the stand, the jury watched John Ritter’s video deposition.
Ritter is the freelance illustrator who created the three photoshopped images for the article, including one of Eramo.
He said he was paid roughly $2,500 for his work.

University Associate Dean of Students Laurie Casteen, also spent time on the stand.
She said she tried to take pressure off Eramo by serving as a “buffer.”
Casteen said she met with Jackie and helped to establish regular police patrols of her home, gave academic support and referred her to counseling.

The trial will resume Thursday at 8 a.m.

Day 10 - Thursday, 2016-10-27

Day 10: Rolling Stone’s remorse in defamation trial
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-27 at 8:04 pm

The final Thursday witness for the plaintiff
in the $7.5 million libel trial against Rolling Stone
was Sara Surface.
A friend to Jackie, Surface seemed to have a purpose
in alleging that reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely
had prejudged plaintiff Nicole Eramo.

“She disregarded me because I didn’t fit the narrative,” said Surface.

An email released during the case’s discovery phase showed that
Erdely viewed Surface not as a true activist,
but as a “covert mouthpiece for the administration,”
something Surface denied.

[Precisely why did Erdely so view Surface?
Can it be that Erdely simply viewed anyone who disagreed with her preconceptions negatively?
Of course.]

“If she had listened to my personal experiences and feelings,”
the testy former student testified,
“maybe she wouldn’t be getting sued now.”

The bulk of the testimony, however,
was the second day of Rolling Stone’s deputy managing editor Sean Woods
being confronted by plaintiff’s counsel Libby Locke.

In the morning,
Locke asked Woods and the jurors to look at their phones
to contrast text messages
the screen shots Jackie provided of text messages by two other alleged victims.
Locke said it seemed suspicious since the name “Jackie”–
as if she were the sender–
shouldn’t be at the top of the screenshots.

[Seems like a good point to me,
but stepped on by the administrative glitch described below.]

Amid laughter from Woods and the jurors,
several pointing out that phones weren’t allowed in the federal courtroom,
Locke turned to the judge.

“Well, this isn’t going very well, Your Honor.”

Locked shifted course to emails such as the one on October 23
when Erdely opens with an F-bomb expletive
to tell her editor the protagonist Jackie is in “full freakout mode.”
But Woods downplayed the prospect of a pulling-out protagonist.

“This happens all the time,” said Woods.

As late as November 3, Erdely emailed, Jackie had gone silent.
But Woods says he remained calm.

“I had other articles I could have run,” he explained.

Once Jackie resumed communications, there were problems with the story.
Woods emailed Erdely to urge some confirmation– beyond Jackie–
about two other women allegedly raped in the Phi Psi house.

“I wish I had better sourcing for a lot of the Jackie stuff,” Woods replied.
“A lot right now is resting on Jackie’s say-so, including the entire lede.”
[No kidding. But women never lie about rape, right feminists?
When will you feminist dirtbags admit YOUR lies?]

Letting Jackie serve as the source
not only for her now-disproven tale of fraternity house gang rape
but for quotations from allegedly callous friends
prompted Locke to blister that lede.

“It misled readers, didn’t it?” demanded Locke.

“It did,” admitted Woods.

Locke asked the witness to admit the story lacked corroboration.

“I thought we had a lot of corroboration,”
Woods testified, “but here we are.”

“Here we are,” the lawyer repeated.

On questioning from the defense,
Woods pointed to an array of official-sounding statements that seemed to bolster Jackie’s tale.
There was a UVA administrator named Emily Renda
who testified about it under oath to the U.S. Congress.
There were the those real-looking text messages.
And even the UVA president personally confirmed to Erdely
that the fraternity was under investigation.

Yet Woods constantly conceded mistakes–
particularly when reminded that
he assured a[n] inquiring [Washington Post] reporter that
Rolling Stone verified both the existence and the identity of the alleged rapists.

“Yeah, I stepped over the line,” admitted Woods. “And I deeply regret it.”

At one point, Locke spoke of another potential smoking gun.
Three days after publicly disavowing the story online,
Woods reached out to Jackie with a voicemail that noted, in part,
“we’re standing by the story.”

“It’s like the stages of grief,” Woods explained. “I was in denial.”

Over the course of the interrogation,
Woods admitted reporting, sourcing, editing and attribution errors–
including giving up on attempts to reach the rape ringleader
or the trio of supposedly rape-condoning friends.

“We did debate these things,” said Woods. “We just came to the wrong conclusions.”

Rolling Stone editor admits mistakes but stands by criticism of Eramo
Daily Progress, 2016-10-28

An editor for Rolling Stone has admitted that
his magazine’s now-retracted article
did hurt University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo,
but he said he still agrees with the article’s criticism of her work.

Sean Woods, deputy managing editor at Rolling Stone,
was the main editor for Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s infamous November 2014 article “A Rape on Campus,”
and he said in testimony Thursday that, like Erdely,
he stands by the article’s critique of
the UVa administrator’s handling of sexual-assault cases among students.

Woods was on the stand for the majority of Thursday’s trial date in Charlottesville’s federal courthouse,
which has hosted Eramo’s $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone, its publisher and Erdely for the past 10 days.

At the time of the article’s release,
Eramo was an associate dean of students,
charged with offering resources and support for student survivors of sexual assault.
She has since been moved from that position, and she alleges that Erdely’s article
cast her as a callous and indifferent administrator
who sought to suppress the claims of her students.

Representing the magazine that has employed him for roughly 17 years,
Woods echoed statements Erdely made in her days of testimony late last week,
standing by aspects of Erdely’s reporting and the article,
though he fell on his sword when the questioning turned to “Jackie.”

Jackie, whose name has been kept confidential throughout the course of the case,
was a former UVa student whose tale of her own brutal gang rape at a UVa fraternity
served as the centerpiece of Erdely’s article.
Weeks after the article was published,
Jackie’s story began to unravel under scrutiny from media outlets;
an eventual investigation from Charlottesville police
could find no evidence to support her claims,
and the magazine officially retracted the piece soon after.

In court Thursday,
Woods was drilled with questions about Jackie’s involvement with the article
and the fact checking that the magazine underwent to confirm her claims.

Woods seemed resigned when he admitted that,
unlike indications he’d received from Erdely,
Jackie never threatened to pull out of the article
if Erdely attempted to independently contact people
who’d been with Jackie on the night of her alleged assault.

While the article attributed quotes to all three of these people,
they never actually spoke to Erdely —
according to depositions taken earlier this year,
those quotes were fabrications from Jackie.

Asked if these direct attributions in the article
may have “compounded the false impression”
that Erdely had spoken to these individuals,
Woods responded that they “did the readers no good service.”

When asked about Erdely’s decisions
not to contact or attempt to contact any of Jackie’s alleged assailants,
Woods said his “understanding was that she was very afraid” of them.
Pressed about whether the article would have misled readers on that matter,
Woods took a long pause before letting out a sharp exhale,
saying, “yeah, I think it did.”

The magazine originally had a disclaimer in early drafts of the article
stating that Jackie did not disclose her attackers’ identities,
but Woods volunteered that
he was the one who actually cut the disclaimer from the piece;
he intended to put it back into the story,
he said, but forgot to do so before it went to print.

Like Erdely had stated in her testimony,
Woods said he regretted anything in the article that had come from their lead source.
Emails show that, weeks after the article’s release,
Erdely expressed concern over pressure from other media outlets
to talk about the veracity of her story.
At the time, Woods responded to her: “Relax.”

“It’s a big huge story,” Woods wrote in the email.
“This is fishbowl backlash.”

That assessment unraveled with the same speed that Jackie’s story did.
By Dec. 5, 2014, Woods and another editor at Rolling Stone
received an email from Erdely entitled, “our worst nightmare.”
That morning, the magazine published an editor’s note atop the article,
saying it no longer stood by information it had gleaned from Jackie.
Later that day, Woods sent an email to Erdely,
informing her that he had tendered his resignation, which was not accepted.

After that, Woods began to review Erdely’s notes for the article,
something he had not previously done and typically would not do,
and found what he called “a pattern of deception.”

With his remorse made known,
Woods defended the magazine on several decisions it made,
including the Dec. 5 editor’s note,
which he said was tantamount to a retraction.
Eramo’s attorneys have long asserted that the note did not constitute a retraction
but rather a republishing subject to scrutiny in the case.
An official retraction,
in which the article was pulled from the magazine’s website, came in April 2015.

“The world saw it as a retraction,” Woods responded,
saying the April 2015 move was the magazine “correct[ing] the historical record.”

Woods took time Thursday to speak about
the Columbia Journalism School’s scathing review of the article and its reporting,
saying it was “beyond painful,”
but that the magazine published it to be transparent about what went wrong.
He added that his reputation, as well as Erdely’s and others at the magazine,
had been “trashed” as a result of their mistakes in the well-meaning article.

“We were trying to make a difference,” he said.

Pressed as to whether the article had “hurt” Eramo,
Woods hesitated before eventually assenting,
but he added that he still stood by the article’s censure of her performance in helping sexual-assault survivors.

“I think she is a public figure and subject to criticism,” Woods said.

That defense has been the crux of Rolling Stone’s argument in the case —
as a limited purpose public figure,
which Judge Glen Conrad ruled her to be earlier this year,
Eramo has to prove that Erdely and the magazine acted with actual malice in publishing the piece.

Actual malice is a legal standard, loosely defined in this scenario to mean that
Rolling Stone knew that information they were publishing was false,
but they proceeded to publish it anyway.

That argument will likely be taken up Friday,
when Eramo’s counsel is expected to finish presenting their evidence.

[Here is a comment to that story, from the paper's website:]

Randy Salzman
Has "reckless disregard for the truth" disappeared from actual malice?
In the past, at least,
a public figure did not have to prove that a libelous statement
was published with the journal knowing it was false,
but whether, the journal published with "reckless disregard."
That the publication hadn't done things,
like ask the other side or contacted directly people the publication quoted.
At least, under Supreme Court's decisions through 2000,
a libeled person did not have to prove that
the publication knew what it said was false,
but rather whether it took reasonable precautions
(like standard journalistic practice) to ensure that everything was true

Rolling Stone editor admits faults with “A Rape on Campus”
Former U.Va. student also takes stand, defends Eramo
by Daniel Hoerauf and Kate Bellows and Tim Dodson
Cavalier Daily, 2016-10-27

Day 11 - Friday, 2016-10-28

Day 11: Wenner defiant, Eramo rests in Rolling Stone trial
by Hawes Spencer
C-Ville, 2016-10-28

After 11 days of evidence,
plaintiff Nicole Eramo rested her case against Rolling Stone October 28–
but not before testimony from magazine founder Jann Wenner
raised stakes and eyebrows in this $7.5 million libel case.

“We have never retracted the whole article– and don’t intend to,”
declared the magazine owner in a videotaped deposition played for the jury in federal court.

In the video, Rolling’s Stone’s colorful leader appeared relaxed enough
to occasionally put his boots on the table and gesticulate.
And curse– as when discussing an editor’s note
that began the process of disavowing the 2014 story of a vicious gang rape of a woman named Jackie at the University of Virginia.

“Who wants to post something that’s, ‘Oops, we fucked up so bad’?”
asked Wenner.

Dressed in a sage green jacket over an open-collared sport shirt,
Wenner acknowledged the flavorful writing style and point-of-view journalism
that have become Rolling Stone hallmarks,
but said there was nothing casual about
Rolling Stone’s approach to reporting and fact-checking.
Even in this case.

“I think we were the the victim of
one of these rare, once-in-a-lifetime things
that nobody in journalism can protect themselves against,
no matter how hard they try,” said Wenner.

The evidence has shown that Rolling Stone, to accommodate Jackie,
avoided pressing its protagonist for the full name of the alleged rape ring-leader
and failed to contact the three friends who comforted her the night of her claimed attack.

“We had virtually 50 years of a perfect record in the most extreme stories–
highly reported, difficult, complex stories with a lot of controversy,”
said Wenner. “And all of our systems worked.”

As it turned out,
investigations by journalists and by the Charlottesville Police Department
refuted practically every aspect of Jackie’s story,
and previous trial testimony showed that the trio of friends could have done so–
if only the reporter had asked.
So Wenner apologized to Eramo– in his own way.

“To the extent that we have caused you damage,
and obviously we have– the fact that we’re here–
I’m very, very sorry,” said Wenner.
A moment later, he said, “Believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have.”

There were other moments.
For instance, Wenner accused the New York Observer
of manufacturing a quotation
until a lawyer showed him he’d sent the words via email.
But it was his claim that he didn’t retract the whole story
that made Friday afternoon headlines.

“It was a full retraction of our support of all that Jackie stuff,”
Wenner explained.

When pressed to explain how a reader–
given Rolling Stone’s attribution errors–
could ascertain which pieces of the 9,000-word story came from Jackie,
Wenner conceded that he didn’t know.

“I haven’t read it in quite a while.”

Wenner’s partial retraction stance
puts him squarely on the side of the defense’s theory of the case:
that for all its faults and errors,
Rolling Stone’s story rendered a public service
by showing how UVA improperly handled sexual assault reports,
an assertion validated several months later
by the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education.

“We were not retracting the fundamentals to that story,”
Wenner testified.
“We’re not retracting what we had to say about
the overall issue of rape on campus.”

After Wenner’s testimony,
Judge Glen Conrad seemed to find Wenner refreshingly “unfiltered,”
but said the partial-retraction comments kept alive
the plaintiff’s allegation that
Rolling Stone continued to publish defamatory statements about Eramo.

Another Friday witness– again appearing on video–
included UVA’s VP for student affairs, Pat Lampkin,
who declined to specify why she blocked Rolling Stone from interviewing Eramo.
The magazine’s digital director, Alvin Ling,
testified on video that the online version of story
got 2.4 million unique visitors before the first editor’s note went up–
and other 285,000 uniques before it was taken down in April 2015.

The final witness for the plaintiff– again on video– was Will Dana,
the managing editor sacked in the wake of the debacle.
Even after acknowledging widespread “fabrications” from Jackie,
he declined to malign her.

“I feel bad for what this girl has gone through since the story came out,” said Dana.
“I will give her the benefit of the doubt
and assume that she has been victimized in some way.”

Eramo’s attorneys rest case against Rolling Stone;
publisher says he doesn’t stand by retraction

Daily Progress, 2016-10-28

Attorneys for University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo
have rested their case against Rolling Stone,
whose publisher said Friday that he does not stand by the magazine’s retraction
of the controversial article that instigated a $7.5 million lawsuit.

It was a long day in Charlottesville’s federal court on Friday
as Eramo’s attorneys finished presenting their evidence in the defamation lawsuit
filed against Rolling Stone, publisher Wenner Media
and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who penned the now-retracted “A Rape on Campus.”

At the center of the article was the story of “Jackie,” a then-student who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity house during her freshman year at UVa.
When Jackie’s claims were debunked by media outlets and an investigation by Charlottesville police, the magazine issued several apologies before officially retracting the article in April 2015.

In the final hours of Friday’s proceedings, Rolling Stone’s counsel asked Judge Glen Conrad to dismiss the case,
arguing that Eramo had failed to prove several key components of her defamation claim.
While Conrad agreed to toss one line of the suit, the rest is set to move forward on Monday.

Hours earlier,
a 10-person jury heard the taped deposition video of Jann Wenner,
the co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone.
The magazine mogul echoed the sentiments of several others from Rolling Stone:
while Jackie was not credible, the fundamentals of the story still hold water.

While this argument has been key to Rolling Stone’s defense,
Wenner took it on with near-defiance to some of Eramo’s counsel’s questioning,
going as far as saying that 70 to 80 percent of Erdely’s article was still valid.

When asked specifically about the retraction of the article,
Wenner made a somewhat shocking departure
from the statements of others at Rolling Stone.

“We have never retracted the article and don’t intend to,” Wenner said.

Asked about the Dec. 5, 2014, editor’s note appended to the top of the article,
in which Rolling Stone said it had lost faith in Jackie’s story,
Wenner stated “it was a full retraction of our support of all of Jackie’s stuff.”

In the video, Eramo’s counsel
then asked Wenner to read the note at the top of Rolling Stone’s April 2015 retraction,
laughing as he realized it was “contradictory” to what he had just said.
He went on to say that the retraction,
penned by then-managing editor Will Dana,
was “inaccurate” and that he “did not stand by it.”


The questioning eventually turned to the apologies the magazine had issued in the wake of its article,
during which time Wenner, like others from Rolling Stone in their own testimonies,
was asked if Eramo had been personally damaged by the discredited piece.
Like the others, Wenner said he believed that Eramo was among the “UVa administrators” referenced in one of the apologies.

Asked if Eramo specifically had been damaged,
Wenner said he did not know but asked if he could apologize personally to Eramo, who was in the room.
He then did so, stating, “believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have.”

He then spoke at length about the state of affairs at Rolling Stone after the article was discredited,
calling it a “traumatic thing for us to deal with,”
and saying that
although he had told The New York Times that Erdely would remain under contract with the magazine,
he later terminated that contract.

“She’s a long-time employee, very valuable to us,” Wenner said,
adding that she had a track record of good work, but for “one mistake.”
Her being let go, he said, was part of a “recovery process.”

He then spoke about Dana being let go in July 2015,
saying that the then-managing editor had fallen into a funk after the retraction
from which he did not recover.

“I cannot run the company with devastated, traumatized people,” Wenner said.

Friday also featured the deposition video of Pat Lampkin,
a UVa administrator who was in the conversation surrounding
Erdely’s request to interview Eramo for her then-impending piece.
Asked why Erdely’s scheduled interview with Eramo
was eventually rerouted to UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan for comments,
Lampkin simply responded, “We thought that was adequate.”

“We didn’t think we needed to provide anyone else,” Lampkin said.
“We thought giving the president was giving the university’s perspective.”

[Will] Dana [managing editor when the article was published]
also provided a video deposition during Friday’s proceedings,
but, as expected, he echoed the sentiments of Erdely and deputy managing editor Sean Woods,
each of whom testified earlier in the trial.
Dana said he too believed in Jackie’s claims because she had agreed to use her real first name,
and because false rape allegations are so statistically rare;
for Dana, it was “hard to imagine” that someone would put themselves out there with so much to lose.

He added, having worked with them for a long time,
that he had full faith in the judgment of Erdely and others working on the story.

“I did not question a lot of the decisions they were making,” Dana said.
“My faith always was that these guys had it.”

He still took full responsibility for what happened,
saying that he and his team should have worked harder to “ferret out [Jackie’s] fabrications.”
Had they done so, they could have “protected her from herself.”

Dana said that while he had been let go from Rolling Stone,
he had no hesitation in agreeing to testify in the case,
regardless of the cooperation provision that he signed on his way out.
Asked if he’d also signed a non-disparage provision, Dana again said yes.

After Eramo’s counsel completed the presentation of their evidence,
Rolling Stone moved to have the case dismissed on a variety of grounds;
namely, they alleged that
Eramo had not proven her case to the requisite standard of proof and that
she had not shown evidence that Erdely and the magazine published the article
while knowing that Jackie’s claims were false —
a standard known in this case as “actual malice.”

After hours of battling out their points,
Conrad eventually agreed to dismiss one statement from the lawsuit.
In Erdely’s piece, she wrote that
“experts agreed that
the university should have notified or started an investigation into the allegations,”
as explained by Rolling Stone attorney Liz McNamara after Friday’s hearing.

Eramo had argued that the statement
was one of several in the piece that were defamatory.
Conversely, McNamara said Friday that
the statement was “the overarching thesis of case.”

The rest will now go before a jury, which will reconvene Monday morning.

Rolling Stone Publisher Jann Wenner: I Stand By Our College Rape Story
Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s publisher and co-founder, said that
their UVA rape story should have been published,
with alleged victim Jackie’s flawed testimony removed from it.
by Lizzie Crocker
Daily Beast, 2016-10-28 : 11:01 PM ET

[This article is largely a review of the trial to date,
assembled from "local reports".]


Dana’s testimony on Friday implied that he and Wenner were at loggerheads over the story:
He said it was Wenner’s decision to keep the article up on Rolling Stone’s website,
with an editor’s note from Dana,
while the story was being reviewed by the Columbia Journalism School.

When pressed about Erdely’s pitch, he said he was intrigued
because campus sexual assault was “being discussed a lot in media and society,”
and that
the original story idea was to report one sexual assault case on a college campus
and investigate how the administration responded to that case.


Eramo’s team rested its case on Friday afternoon.
The jury will hear arguments from the defense on Monday.

Eramo side concludes;
Rolling Stone starts and ends its defense

Day 12 - Monday, 2016-10-31

Day 12: Judge tosses part of Eramo’s suit against Rolling Stone
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-10-31

The third week of former UVA dean Nicole Eramo’s $7.5 million defamation trial against Rolling Stone began October 31, and in a nod to Halloween,
Eramo chose black and orange attire for her court appearance.
Her attorney, Libby Locke, came in sporting crutches,
but those were not a costume and came from a sprained ankle over the weekend,
according to the judge.

Otherwise, it was a trial day with a hint in the air that it all might be over soon,
especially after Judge Glen Conrad dismissed a portion of Eramo’s claim that
the overall article, “A Rape on Campus,” defamed her by implication.

No reasonable juror would find that
“the story implies that
Eramo was a false friend to Jackie
who pretended to be on Jackie’s side
while seeking to suppress sexual assault reporting,”

the judge ruled.
He also found that Eramo did not establish that
the defendants “designed and intended this defamatory implication.”

Rolling Stone called it “a critical element” of Eramo’s case,
and said in a statement,
“We are pleased that the judge recognizes the limitations of Plaintiff’s lawsuit
and we trust the jury will find that her remaining claims also have no merit.”

Conrad refused to throw out other parts of the suit,
and he said the jury will consider
“the things Jackie said to Eramo,
things that can be read that Eramo was indifferent to sexual assault victims”
and whether Eramo discouraged the reporting of sexual assault.

[To my little mind,
“the things Jackie said to Eramo,
things that can be read that Eramo was indifferent to sexual assault victims”
might very well imply
“Eramo was ... seeking to suppress sexual assault reporting”.
But then I'm not a lawyer.]

And the magazine had less success in arguing that
its republication of the story on December 5 and 6, 2014,
with editor’s notes that first said the magazine’s trust in Jackie was misplaced
and then that the mistakes were the magazine’s responsibility,
did not constitute actual malice.

“Every time a publication enters a correction,
that would constitute republication,” said Rolling Stone attorney Elizabeth McNamara.

“You and I are going to have to disagree on that,” said Conrad.

The judge cited Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner’s testimony from Friday,
in which Wenner said that in order to understand what is being taken back,
you have to reread the article.
”That can be deemed republication under that law,” said Conrad.
“I’m going to let the jury decide.”

The magazine called to the stand Susan Davis,
UVA associate vice president of student affairs,
who was the point person between the university and the [U.S.] Office of Civil Rights
when it began its investigation into UVA’s handling of sexual assaults in 2011.

Davis’ name came up in testimony last week in an e-mail,
in which she said she wanted to kill
a story the UVA alumni magazine was working on about sexual assault on campus
unless it was substantially revised.
The alumni magazine piece was in the works
that same fall Erdely was reporting the Rolling Stone piece,
and it never ran.

Davis testified that
the OCR investigation had been dormant for 17 months until November 20, 2014,
the morning after Rolling Stone published “A Rape on Campus,”
the now-debunked tale of first-year Jackie’s gang rape at a fraternity.

[Hah! Just as I suspected:
The RS story pushed OCR into its conclusions.
A pattern that is all too familiar,
at that level and at local levels:
a cascade of lies,
with no one wanting to buck what Team PC wants.
Too much pain, too little reward.
Who cares about truth when there are politically incorrect people to be stigmatized?]

In its September 2015 findings,
the OCR determined UVA did not promptly investigate
two cases of assault at fraternities, presumably Jackie and Stacy,
who was also in the Rolling Stone story, although Davis said she did not know to which cases the OCR report referred.

[And now RS wants to use the OCR report to justify its reporting!
Talk about circular reasoning.]

The jury got a replay of Erdely’s recording of
a September 12, 2014, dinner she had with
Jackie, Alex Pinkleton and Jackie’s boyfriend, Connor,
who learns that Jackie allegedly got syphilis from the alleged gang rape.

“Oh, that made my heart leap a little,” Connor said.
Jackie assures him the STD is no longer a problem.
When Erdely asked her for medical records,
Jackie said she’ll get them from her mother, and then back tracks.
“Actually she doesn’t have them,” said Jackie. “I never told her.”

On rebuttal with Erdely back on the stand,
Locke pointed out the inconsistency.

“She was thinking out loud,” said Erdely. “She was flustered.”

[Boy, can't Erdely justify any self-contradiction by Jackie.]

Locke also focused on Jackie referring to Phi Kappa Psi,
the fraternity where she claimed the gang rape occurred,
as “Pi Phi,” which is a sorority,
rather than Phi Psi in an interview with Erdely.

“I knew Pi Phi is a sorority,” said Erdely,
“and I didn’t think she was telling me she was raped at a sorority.”

Locke pointed to another instance in Erdely’s notes where Jackie says Pi Phi.
“She doesn’t have her story straight,” said Locke.

“No, it isn’t that she doesn’t have her story straight,” said Erdely.
“It’s all Greek to her.”

[Personally, I don't think her confusing the Greek names of frats and sororities discredits her.
To many people, the difference between them really isn't all that significant.
I'm sure if you're really into the Greek scene, yeah, it matters a lot.
But to many others, not at all.
Of course there are differences, but do they matter to everyone?

Shortly after 2pm, with all evidence in,
the judge dismissed the jury for the day,
and was greeted with an arm pump and a “yay” by one of the jurors.

The jury returns for closing arguments Tuesday morning.

Judge dismisses part of Eramo defamation suit
Daily Progress, 2016-10-31

A federal judge quietly dismissed an aspect of University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo’s $7.5 million defamation lawsuit Monday,
saying the now-retracted Rolling Stone article at issue in the litigation
did not defame her by its implications.

[Really? Why doesn't he let the jury decide that?]

Judge Glen Conrad made the ruling in his chambers before the 10-person jury empaneled to hear the case returned to the courtroom.
Rolling Stone, its publisher and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely are fighting the case on the grounds that
Erdely’s controversial November 2014 article “A Rape on Campus” did not personally damage Eramo,
who claims her health, reputation and career suffered as a result of Erdely’s piece.

Several aspects of Eramo’s defamation suit are still in play,
including three statements from the article, as well as
several statements made by Erdely to the media after the article’s release.
Nonetheless, a statement from the magazine released Monday afternoon
calls the defamation by implication a “critical element” of Eramo’s case.

“We are pleased that the judge recognizes the limitations of [Eramo’s] lawsuit
and we trust the jury will find that her remaining claims also have no merit,”
the statement read.

An attorney for Eramo has not responded to a request for comment on the matter.

In his written opinion on the ruling, Conrad explained that
Eramo’s attorneys did not originally include a defamation by implication claim in their suit,
but that Rolling Stone stated Eramo’s complaint
“already asserts claims under a theory of defamation by implication.”

On Oct. 11, less than a week before the trial was scheduled to begin,
the magazine requested that Eramo specify the defamatory meaning
that she believed was expressed by the article,
to which her counsel agreed.

They then asserted that the article,
when “taken as a whole and viewed in the context with its headlines, illustrations, captions and promotional material,
implies and insinuates that
Nicole Eramo acted as a false friend to Jackie,
pretending to be on her side while at the same time
discouraging Jackie from pursuing a formal complaint or police investigation regarding her rape allegations
in order to suppress the assault and protect the University’s reputation,”
according to court filings.

Ahead of Monday’s trial date, which marked the beginning and end Rolling Stone’s presentation of evidence,
Eramo’s attorneys asked the court for time to clarify that claim.

According to Conrad’s written opinion, that last-minute filing may have been too little, too late.
He wrote that
the delivery of Eramo’s original statement on the article’s implication
gave Rolling Stone enough time to prepare a trial strategy.
Were he to allow Eramo to revise or amend it on the eve of Rolling Stone’s presentation of evidence,
the magazine would not have enough time to develop their defense, leading him to deny Eramo’s request.

From there, Conrad wrote that
he did not believe
a “reasonable juror” would find that Erdely’s article,
“read as a whole and in context of the contemporaneous promotional material,”
would agree with the implications that Eramo alleged.

“Similarly, based on the evidence adduced, the court further believes that
no reasonable juror could find that [Eramo] has established by a preponderance of the evidence that
defendants designed and intended this defamatory implication”
Conrad wrote before ruling in Rolling Stone’s favor.

The remainder of Eramo’s claims will now go before a jury,
which is expected to begin deliberations after closing arguments are heard Tuesday morning.

In Monday’s short hearing, Rolling Stone presented relatively little new material to the court.
They first called to the stand Susan Davis,
the acting vice president for student affairs at UVa.
Davis testified that
the day after the article’s release,
the Office for Civil Rights contacted UVa,
asking for information related to two specific sexual assault cases referenced in “A Rape on Campus.”

One of those cases was that of “Jackie,”
the young woman whose claim that she was gang raped at a fraternity house during her first year at UVa became the centerpiece of Erdely’s article.
When Jackie’s allegations were debunked by several media inquiries
and a Charlottesville police investigation,
the magazine slowly pulled back on and eventually retracted the article,
leading to Eramo’s litigation.

While on the stand, Davis added that, prior to the article’s release,
the Office for Civil Rights had not contacted UVa since 2012, and that
their “formerly dormant review” was jump-started.

Rolling Stone also replayed the tape recording of a dinner between
Erdely, Jackie, Jackie’s now-husband Connor, and Alex Pinkleton,
a friend of Jackie’s quoted in Erdely’s piece.
While the recording didn’t offer any new information,
it did remind the jury of inconsistencies in Jackie’s story.

[Then why did Rolling Stone play it?]

In the recording, Jackie expressed to Erdely that she had contracted syphilis during her alleged assault —
a fact apparently unbeknownst to then-boyfriend Connor,
who seemed taken aback until Jackie assured him, “I don’t have it anymore.”

Erdely attempted to verify Jackie’s alleged disease by asking for Jackie’s medical records.
Initially, Jackie said that they were available from her mother,
but she quickly doubled back on that statement when Erdely pressed for them,
insisting now that she had them in her possession and could scan and send them to Erdely.

Also in the conversation, Jackie confessed that she had contemplated committing suicide following her alleged assault.
She told Erdely that she had picked a firm date upon which to do it and a location near UVa Grounds, had written a will and even purchased a rope.
She changed her plans when a cleaning person at her dorm found a cat,
and she decided to rescue the cat, rather than allow it to be put down.

With all evidence in the case presented, court adjourned early Monday,
much to the delight of the jury.
Counsel from each side will have one last chance to argue their case on Tuesday morning
before the jury will take to deliberations.

If the jury finds in Eramo’s favor,
the case will then go into a “damages phase,”
in which the jury will hear further evidence and decide how money Eramo is due.

[Two comments were posted to this article:]

Bill Marshall · Charlottesville, Virginia
Why doesn't the judge allow the jurors to decide what they comprehend from the article?
He is a judge not a god.
The press needs to be held as accountable as the rest of us.
Oct 31, 2016 8:24pm

Brad London
Agreed. He is over stepping his bounds.
Nov 1, 2016 7:24am

Closing arguments

Day 13 - Tuesday, 2016-11-01

Day 13: Attorneys make final pitches in Rolling Stone trial
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-11-01

It was closing argument day November 1 in U.S. District Court,
the site of former UVA associate dean Nicole Eramo’s defamation trial against Rolling Stone for its now-retracted “A Rape on Campus,”
and lawyers for both sides spent more than three hours each
trying to sway the jury to find for their clients.

Plaintiff’s attorney Tom Clare noted
the “tremendous amount of material” thrown at jurors during the trial,
which is now in its third week, and he tallied the 12 live witnesses,
11 hours of video and 286 exhibits that have been presented.

He returned to the theme from his opening argument:
“This is a case about journalism,” not about rape,
nor whether Jackie, the troubled young woman whose tale of a gang rape at a fraternity actually happened,
nor whether victim choice on reporting sexual assaults on campus is a good thing.

The case, he said, is about how people like Nicole Eramo,
who was the sexual assault point person at UVA,
“became collateral damage in a sensational story.”

Clare described the “avoidable” missteps Rolling Stone and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely made,
which were investigated and identified in a lacerating 13,000-word report in the Columbia Journalism Review,
as “Journalism 101” at least a half dozen times.

“Erdely has a career of writing stories about institutional indifference,” said Clare.
He dubbed her MO the “three Vs”– victim, villain and vindicator.
In “A Rape on Campus,”
Jackie was the victim, Eramo the villain and Rolling Stone and Erdely were the vindicators,
exposing UVA’s callous handling of sexual assault, he said.

Because a judge ruled Eramo is a public figure,
she has to prove Erdely and Rolling Stone acted with actual malice,
and according to Clare,
Erdely’s failure to corroborate Jackie’s claims,
her departure from Journalism 101 standards
and a preconceived story line
constituted a “reckless disregard for the truth,”
which is part of the actual malice definition.

Clare also cited “giant waving red flags,”
and had a high-production value presentation to show jurors
Rolling Stone’s marked-up copy before and after facts or quotes had been edited out,
complete with a red pen striking through the deleted material.

Among the red flags:
Jackie only introduced Erdely to people who had heard the story from Jackie,
but refused to identify the alleged perpetrator of the gang rape
or the three friends she claimed discouraged her from going to the police
after the alleged September 28, 2012, incident,

said Clare.

Nor did Erdely attempt to find “Armpit” and “Blanket,”
two of Jackie’s alleged assailants at Phi Kappa Psi,
or physical evidence of the rape, such as Jackie’s bloody, torn dress
or her medical records for the syphilis she claimed she contracted,
said the attorney.

Most damning, according to Clare, was that
Rolling Stone had removed from the story the fact that
Eramo took Jackie to the police after Jackie was allegedly beaned with a bottle in April 2014.

“That’s actual malice,” said Clare.

Not surprisingly, defendants’ attorney Scott Sexton disagreed.

“There’s a temptation to piggyback on the mistakes” in the article, he said.
“We acknowledge those mistakes.”
But even if Rolling Stone had not used Jackie’s story of a gang rape,
“it would not have prevented them from publishing a story about how UVA responds to rape,”
he said.

[So what? It is a hypothetical that that story would have vilified Eramo as the actual story did.]

And because Eramo is a public figure,
“a highly compensated official at a state institution,” he said,
that’s why she has to prove malice.

“We are entitled to criticize public figures,” said Sexton.

He dismissed Clare’s red flags:
“Roughly 97.3 percent of what Mr. Clare said in his opening is irrelevant.”

Yesterday, Judge Glen Conrad dismissed Eramo’s claim that the article defamed her by implication,
which included the illustration of Eramo that she testified made her “look like the devil.”

[How the hell can the judge do that?
How can he dismiss that claim?
Why isn't it up to the jury to decide whether the article "defamed [Eramo] by implication"?]

“Gone,” said Sexton.

He disputed the three specific statements in the article
that Eramo claims are false:
  • that she discouraged Jackie from sharing her story,
  • that she said, “Nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school,”
    when Jackie sought rape statistics, and
  • that Eramo had a “nonreaction” when Jackie told her in April 2014
    that two other young women had been gang raped at Phi Psi.
The latter, said Sexton, “is not even defamatory,”
because Erdely had asked Jackie to describe Eramo’s face when she told her about the other alleged incidents.

[Sexton's argument is not clear to me in this report.]

He said actual malice means
the defendants would have to have published the story
with knowledge of or with reckless disregard of
the statements’ falsity.

["or with"? It sure looks to me like RS did publish the article
"with reckless disregard of" the falsity of the article's key assertions.]

Erdely found Jackie credible, said Sexton,
as did the editors and fact checker at Rolling Stone.

[Based on what? Nothing more than her [Jackie's] story.
Shouldn't making such incendiary claims as were made in the RS article
require something more than just one woman's word?
Evidently not, in the feminist world.
"All women tell the truth", they said.
This story is the result of their campaign.]

“This is what serious doubt looks like,” he said, showing a copy of
the 1:54am December 5, 2014, “our worst nightmare” e-mail
Erdely sent to Rolling Stone deputy managing editor Sean Woods
when she no longer believed Jackie credible.

Clare’s contention that Erdely was negligent in failing to investigate Jackie’s bogus claims
is not actual malice,

explained Sexton.

[Really? That will be the key issue for the jury to decide.]

Both attorneys displayed verdict forms the jury will use for each of the defendants
after it determines whether the story was actionable
and whether the defendant acted with actual malice.

Clare marked the two questions with “yes.”
Sexton marked his with “no.”

The jury will begin deliberations Wednesday morning.

After the hearing, Eramo attorney Libby Locke said she thinks
the jury deliberation is “going to be very quick,”
because the actual malice is “very compelling.”

If the jury finds in Eramo’s favor, the next phase of the bifurcated trial is damages,
which Locke said will probably take a half day.
“I think it’s going to be a heart-wrenching phase of the trial to hear
how this has affected Nicole and her family.”

With closing arguments over, Rolling Stone case heads to jury
Daily Progress, 2016-11-01

“They pressed print,” attorney Tom Clare said about Rolling Stone magazine. “Nicole Eramo did not have that luxury.”

Those were among Clare’s final statements in what may be the penultimate trial day for his client,
the University of Virginia administrator currently suing Rolling Stone, its publisher and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
With the conclusion of his final arguments, it is now up to a 10-person jury to decide the case.

For the past 13 days, counsel for Eramo and the magazine have sparred ...

Tuesday marked the beginning and end of closing arguments in the case.
In the morning, Clare took to the floor for more than three hours to tell the jury that,
with a long history of reporting on “institutional indifference” to claims of sexual assault,
Erdely had a preconceived notion of the story she wanted to tell
long before she stepped foot on UVa Grounds.

Echoing the arguments that have been made by his fellow attorneys for the past two weeks,
Clare said that Erdely and her editors at Rolling Stone had a reckless disregard for the truth
as they accepted the story of Jackie, a “vulnerable, troubled, attention-seeking” young girl.
In doing so, Clare said, the magazine had on their hands
an article with a winning formula that Erdely customarily wrote:
“a victim, a villain and a vindicator.”

“It had all the elements of a perfect story,” Clare said.

Clare continued that the magazine ignored red flags that popped up in their reporting process,
the fact that Jackie’s story of her alleged rape morphed several times,
depending on whom Erdely had asked about it,
and the fact that Jackie refused to identify any people
who might be able to corroborate the account first-hand.
Whenever Erdely asked for physical evidence from Jackie,
she was left empty-handed;
whenever Jackie’s actions or words contradicted Erdely’s own observations,
she looked the other way, Clare said.

Likewise, Rolling Stone attorney Scott Sexton rehashed each of his team’s own arguments when it was his turn with the jury.
For more than three hours,
Sexton reminded the jury that from the perspective of Erdely, her editors, UVa administrators and even Jackie’s friends,
it appeared that Jackie’s story was credible.

Sexton argued that Jackie also proved capable of providing detailed accounts of what had happened to her,
as well as her interactions with UVa administrators and students in the wake of the alleged assault.
The morphing of her story, Sexton said,
was not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault,
and Erdely’s failure to contact corroborative witnesses was done so
out of respectful deference to Jackie’s wishes.

He continued that, outside of Jackie’s story,
the magazine stands by its depiction of Eramo and the UVa administration
and is backed up by strong criticism of the school by the Office for Civil Rights
that came out after the article had already been retracted.

“That’s the criticism they don’t want to hear,” Sexton said.

When taken out of the context of Jackie’s story,
the article still stands up, he said, without being explicitly defamatory to Eramo.
Sexton pointed out that on Monday,
Judge Glen Conrad dismissed Eramo’s claim that she had been defamed by the implications of the article.
Conrad said that the jury would still take up specific statements at issue in the case;
Sexton argued that with that ruling, the majority of Eramo’s arguments in the case were irrelevant.

[So that ruling by Judge Conrad seems to be a very key ruling,
one whose justification is a mystery to me.]

A jury will finally take up the case on Wednesday morning.
If they find in Eramo’s favor, the trial will then go into a “damages phase,”
in which the jurors will hear further evidence
and decide how much monetary remuneration Eramo is due.

Jury deliberations

Day 14 - Wednesday, 2016-11-02

Jurors deliberate, go home in Rolling Stone case
The Daily Progress staff reports
Daily Progress, 2016-11-02

In the 14th day of trial in Charlottesville’s federal court,
jurors accepted instructions early in the morning
before going into more than six hours of deliberations.
They asked Judge Glen Conrad to conclude at 5 p.m.,
with a plan of returning Thursday morning.

Just before jurors adjourned,
they asked to see a Dec. 1, 2014, article from The Washington Post
that first outlined major gaps in the story’s reporting.
Conrad denied the request,
saying the article was not part of the case’s extensive evidence.

[So what?
Why on earth can't the jury see this article?
How does the legal system justify that limiting of information?

By the way, the italicized and boxed paragraph below is an excerpt from the article the judge denied the jury (the emphasis is added):]

Sean Woods, who edited the Rolling Stone story,
said in an interview that
Erdely did not talk to the alleged assailants.
“We did not talk to them. We could not reach them,”
he said in an interview.
However, he said, “we verified their existence,”
in part by talking to Jackie’s friends.
“I’m satisfied that these guys exist and are real.
We knew who they were.”

[Now back to the Daily Progress article about the trial:]

Wednesday morning, Conrad instructed the jurors that
they’d be judging each of Eramo’s defamation claims by two standards:
first, whether the statements were “actionable” as defamation,
and then if they were made with “actual malice.”

Per the instructions handed to the jury,
actual malice means that a statement is made
“with knowledge of the statement’s falsity
or with reckless disregard of whether or not it is false.”
[YES! In spades!]
In this instance,
“reckless disregard” means that Rolling Stone and Erdely
“had a high degree of awareness of the probable falsity
or must have in fact entertained serious doubts
as to the truth of the publication.”

[They'd have to be as stoned as the stereotypical Rolling Stone reader to not
"have entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the publication."]

If the jury finds in Eramo’s favor,
the trial will then enter a “damages phase,” in which the jury will hear further evidence and decide on the monetary reparations Eramo is due.
The trial is expected to pick up at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Day 15 - Thursday, 2016-11-03

Rolling Stone case jurors continue to deliberate
The Daily Progress staff reports
Daily Progress, 2016-11-03

After 14 hours of deliberations, the 10-person jury in the $7.5 million defamation trial against Rolling Stone magazine has yet to return a verdict.

Just as they did on Wednesday, jurors elected to go home just before 5 p.m. Thursday,
saying that they will return at 8 a.m. Friday to pick up where they left off.


Rolling Stone verdict watch
by Leslie Loftis
Daily Caller, 2016-11-03


While we are on verdict watch, here is a quick summary of the likely focus of the deliberations.

Since the court found that Eramo, the dean, was a limited public figure, she has to prove malice in the publishing of the false story that characterized her as callous toward rape victims on campus. The record clearly shows recklessness on Rolling Stone’s part, but malice is different. It wants a bit of knowledge with the recklessness.

The famous formulation about torts and crimes will work here:
Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.
“Malice” leans to asking if Rolling Stone kicked Eramo.
Hence, the defense’s focus on everyone believing Jackie.
They argue that if the author, and thus the editors and publisher,
believed Jackie,
then they might have been naive but not intentionally cruel.
[Come on.
These experienced people, Jann Wenner, two middle-aged male editors, and the 42-year-old Sabrinna Rubin Erdely, naive?
Who would be so stupid as to believe that?]

From Rolling Stone’s closing:

Sexton [Rolling Stone’s attorney] urged jurors to consider Jackie’s compelling story and questioned why it would be unreasonable for Erdely to believe her when the university itself had taken the rape claim seriously.
“Everyone who encountered this young woman believed her,” Sexton said. “Yet we are the ones, in a sense, being tried for having believed her.”

Why is it unreasonable that Rolling Stone believed Jackie?
Because Rolling Stone is supposed employ journalists.
{Evident typo in the original.]
Their duties are different than those of university staff.
Most notably, they aren’t supposed to merely believe but verify.

[Oh, so university staff are supposed to believe everything students tell them?]

That everything went wrong was the point of the Columbia Journalism School report,
“An anatomy of a journalistic failure,”
which finally prompted a retraction months after it was obvious the story was a fabrication.
The decision will likely turn on how the judge words the submission of the malice question —
how it defines and allows for recklessness —
[I wonder why there is not a legal standard for that wording.]
and how much the jury focuses on journalist standards.
The higher the standard, the more likely they are to see more than aggressive naïveté.

The stronger case for malice lies with Jackie, the woman on whom the article was based.
The false story, the damning quote at the center of Eramo’s case they all came from Jackie.
But she couldn’t be sued.
She was protected by the instinct to protect women,
still just as effective, perhaps more so,
for coming from feminists rather than the patriarchy.
[The instinct?
I don't think that is the right word for what is coming from feminists.
Cold, cynical, calculation, manipulation, and deception is more like it.]

If she has lied about something this horrible,
then clearly she must be a victim, or so the argument goes.
[What BS, in my opinion.]
If Eramo had sued her, then public opinion, and likely the jury,
would see her as callous, just the way Rolling Stone presented her.

[Not my opinion.
If there is a central villain in this story,
it is Jacky, whoever she is.]

Thus, with malice with as the standard,
Rolling Stone might walk this one.
If they do, I would expect Eramo to appeal
the lower court’s classification of her as a public figure.
If that designation fails and the case is remanded,
then Rolling Stone will almost certainly lose.
The Columbia review was correct: what went wrong?

The verdict!

Day 16 - Friday, 2016-11-04

The actual verdict!
Special Verdict Form, U.S. District Court, 2016-11-04

Jury finds reporter, Rolling Stone responsible for defaming U-Va. dean with gang rape story
by T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post, 2016-11-04

A federal court jury decided Friday that
a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean
in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.

The 10 member jury concluded that
the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely,
was responsible for defamation, with actual malice,

in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication.
The jury also found the magazine and its publisher
responsible for defaming Eramo.


[Scott Sexton, a lawyer for Rolling Stone,] said that in effect
Erdely and Rolling Stone had fallen victim to
what he called at points a “hoax,” a “fraud,” and a “perfect storm.”

The magazine’s editorial staff was no match for Jackie, Sexton said,
noting that the magazine was not sure what exactly had happened to her,
but admitted
“she deceived us and we do know it was purposeful.”
“This young woman was very good at telling this story,”

Sexton said.
“Dean Eramo believed her. . . .
Yet we are the ones being tried, in a sense, for having believed her.”

[But the hoaxer is still unidentified.
You go, women!
Hear them roar.
"The truth, what do we care about the truth.
We're women, after all.
Get the pigs, that's our motto and our goal.
And the truth be damned.
It's just an obsolete concept of the patriarchy."
Try and deny that that's your real attitude, feminists.
Your actions, in maintaining Jackie's anonymity, speak for you.]

[Among the comments to this WaPo article was (but the emphasis is added):]

3:27 PM EST
Nothing that anyone at Rolling Stone has said,
either during the aftermath of the story's retraction or now after this verdict,
shows that they even understand why what they did was wrong.
They're still stuck on believing that
their crime was caring for a rape victim too much
and being not quite as diligent at checking sources as they could have been.
They refuse to admit that their crime was taking an obviously bogus story,
which they almost certainly knew was bogus
(because despite appearances, they're not total idiots),
that made real, living, breathing people look like complete monsters
and, without making a single attempt to get anyone else's side of the story -
as basic journalistic standards demands -
presented every single accusation made by Jackie
as if they were the undisputed truth.
That they don't get this, and probably never will, is mind boggling.

[Hey, where I live that's just par for the course.
They justify it with the slogan "Don't blame the victim."
Two sides to the story? Fuhgeht about it.
"We're the PC elite.
You're just 'someone who likes to hurt people' "
(by trying to tell your side of the story).]

Judgment day: Jury rules in Eramo’s favor
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-11-04 at 4:02 PM

As soon as the clerk in federal court read the first verdict
finding actual malice in Nicole Eramo’s defamation lawsuit
against Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Erdely,
the UVA administrator crumpled against her attorney.

And as the clerk went on to read more than two dozen statements upon which
the jury had to decide in the suit against
Erdely, Rolling Stone and Wenner Media LLC,
with only a few exceptions,
the jurors found actual malice on each count November 4.

“Today was a really good day,”
said Eramo attorney Libby Locke with her client at her side,
along with Eramo’s supporters.
“We said all along Rolling Stone published a false article.”

Rolling Stone attorney Elizabeth McNamara declined to comment.
Erdely remained composed in the courtroom,
but she was weeping as she went out the back door of the U.S. District Court.

The decision came after 16 days in court and two and a half days of jury deliberation
in Eramo’s $7.5 million suit stemming from the November 2014 Rolling Stone story, “A Rape on Campus.”
The story, which recounted the tale of Jackie, who claimed she was gang raped at Phi Kappa Psi, quickly unraveled, and by April 2015, after a searing examination by Columbia School of Journalism, Rolling Stone retracted the story.

Eramo, who was in charge of handling victims of sexual assault and the Sexual Assault Misconduct Board at UVA, filed suit the next month,
contending that the story portrayed her as a callous and indifferent administrator,
according to Erdely’s preconceived storyline.

A judge earlier had ruled that Eramo is a public figure,
and the jury had to determine whether
Rolling Stone acted with actual malice in its publication of the story
and three specific statements that Eramo contends are false:
That she discouraged Jackie from sharing her story,
that she said, “Nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school,”
and that she had a “non reaction” when Jackie told her in April 2014
that two other young women had been gang raped at the same fraternity.

Erdely faced the most counts of defamation,
and the jury found all of the statements actionable,
but did not find the “rape school” statement published with actual malice.

The jury also believed that
in post-publication interviews on the “Brian Lehrer Show” and Slate in November 2014,
Erdely made statements with actual malice about Eramo,
as well as in an e-mail to the Washington Post November 30, 2014.

Rolling Stone and Wenner Media were found to have acted with actual malice
when the magazine republished the story December 5, 2014,
with an editor’s note saying that it no longer found Jackie credible,
although the jury did not believe the original November 19, 2014, story
was published with actual malice.

After the verdict, Rolling Stone issued a statement and apology to Eramo.

“For almost 50 years,
Rolling Stone has aimed to produce journalism
with the highest reporting and ethical standards,
and with a strong humanistic point of view,” it said.
“In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor,
we overlooked reporting paths and made journalistic mistakes
that we are committed to never making again.
We deeply regret these missteps
and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms. Eramo.”

Legal expert David Heilberg, who is not connected to the case, says,
“Obviously the jury thought it was more than pure negligence.”

He compares it to walking toward a goal.
“The difference between negligence and actual malice is with negligence,
you’re walking toward a goal and ignoring everything else.
With actual malice, you’re walking toward a goal with blinders on
and you’re not using your peripheral vision.”

Heilberg also says, “I find it interesting that
in exactly the time where we’ve set new lows in our political discourse,
the jury could find actual malice.”

The jury adjourned for the day and will return Monday for the damages portion of the trial,
in which it hears testimony about how the article affected Eramo
and awards some or all of her $7.5 million claim.

Jury says Rolling Stone article defamed UVa administrator
Daily Progress, 2016-11-04

Following more than 20 hours of deliberations,
a Charlottesville jury on Friday returned a verdict in favor of University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo
in the $7.5 million defamation trial against Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher and the author of “A Rape on Campus.”

On Friday afternoon, the jury found the defendants liable for damages against Eramo
and that some or all of the defendants committed actual malice in one or more instances.

Eramo had claimed that the now-debunked November 2014 article,
which focused on a brutal gang rape alleged to have occurred at a UVa fraternity house,
defamed her and caused her personal injury.
When the jury’s verdict was read aloud in court, Eramo’s attorney, Libby Locke,
put a hand on her client’s shoulder as the former associate dean became emotional.
Throughout the proceedings, Erdely had kept her eyes on paperwork and did not display any emotion.

Earlier this week, Judge Glen Conrad dismissed part of the lawsuit,
saying the article did not defame her by its implications.
In his ruling, Conrad said the article did not personally damage Eramo,
who claims her health, reputation and career suffered as a result of Erdely’s piece.

In its deliberations, the jury was required to determine if
statements made in the Rolling Stone article
and statements made by Erdely on the “Brian Lehrer Show,”
on Slate’s “DoubleX Gabfest” podcast and to The Washington Post
were false and defamatory of Eramo,
according to the jury instructions and verdict forms.

Looking at several specific statements made in the article
as it appeared online on Nov. 19, 2014,
the jury found that all three defendants—
Erdely, Rolling Stone LLC and Wenner Media LLC—
were liable for the statements,
but jurors only found Erdely to have acted with actual malice in two of them;
neither the magazine nor the publisher were found to have acted with malice
by publishing the statements.

The statements in which the jury believed Erdely acted with malice
included one that said, according to the jury verdict forms:
“Like most colleges, sexual assault proceedings at UVa unfold in total secrecy.
Asked why UVa doesn’t publish all its data,
President Sullivan explains that it might not be in keeping with ‘best practices’
and thus may inadvertently discourage reporting.
Jackie got a different explanation
when she’d eventually asked Dean Eramo the same question.
She says Eramo answered wryly,
‘Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.’”

Erdely also was found to have acted with malice
when she was interviewed Nov. 26, 2014, on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” and said:
“Jackie was kind of brushed off by her friends and by the administration …
And eventually, when she did report it to the administration,
the administration did nothing about it, they did nothing with the information.
And they even continued to do nothing when she eventually told them that
she had become aware of two other women who were also gang-raped at the same fraternity.”

Erdely also was found liable for four statements she made
on Slate’s “DoubleX Gabfest” podcast on Nov. 26, 2014
(webpage, Soundcloud audio),
but she was found to have acted with malice in just two of the statements.

In one of those statements, Erdely said,
“When [Jackie] does actually run into some of her alleged assailants on campus sometimes,
just the sight of them, obviously it’s a shock,
but it also tends to send her into a depression.
So it just goes to show sort of the emotional toll something like this would take.
I just think it would require a great deal of support for her to move forward …
She really hasn’t had any of that support from her friends,
from the administration, nor from her family.”

The jury also found Erdely to have acted with malice
when she wrote in an email sent Nov. 30, 2014, to The Washington Post:
“As I’ve already told you,
the gang-rape scene that leads the story
is the alarming account that Jackie—a person whom I found to be credible—
told to me, told her friends, and importantly, what she told the UVa administration,
which chose not to act on her allegations in any way …
THAT is the story:
the culture that greeted her and so many other UVa women I interviewed,
who came forward with allegations, only to be met with indifference.”

The jury also found that all three defendants were liable and acted with malice,
according to the jury verdict forms,
by publishing the story in the December 2014 print edition of the magazine
with some of the same statements made in the article as it appeared originally online.

When the jury was excused for the day,
Eramo’s attorney, Locke, spoke to reporters, praising the verdict.

“Nicole was vindicated,” Locke said.
“We’ve said it all along—Rolling Stone published a false and defamatory article,
and the jury concluded that was the case.
It feels very good to have a jury of Nicole’s peers come back
and vindicate what we have known from day one.”

“The jury was very deliberative, very careful,
and we really appreciate all the time and work they put into it.”

After Erdely and the editors for Rolling Stone left the courthouse,
the magazine put out a statement lamenting the mistakes they made in their reporting.

“In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor,
we overlooked reporting paths
and made journalistic mistakes that we are committed to never making again,”
the statement said.

“We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them,
including Ms. Eramo,” magazine officials said in the statement.
“It is our deep hope that our failings
do not deflect from the pervasive issues discussed in the piece,
and that reporting on sexual assault cases ultimately results in campus policies
that better protect our students.”

Jurors will return at 8 a.m. Monday to determine what damages they think Eramo is due.

Jury Rules ‘Rolling Stone’ Defamed UVA Dean In Its ‘Jackie’ Rape Story
by Lizzie Crocker
Daily Beast, 2016-11-04 3:05 PM

[This really is an excellent summation of the verdict.
At its end, it even includes all the statements found to constitute
defamation and malice.]


In closing arguments heard earlier this week,
Rolling Stone’s attorney Scott Sexton argued that Eramo’s case didn’t meet the “actual malice” standard set by Judge Conrad back in September,
which meant that Erdely and the magazine either knew its statements about Eramo were false
or that they “entertained serious doubts to the truth of the publication,”
according to Judge Conrad’s instructions for the jury,
which also stressed that
“a failure to investigate does not establish actual malice.”

Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer, said he was not surprised by the verdict.

“The defendants had the benefit of a very favorable standard,”
he told the Daily Beast, referring to the actual malice standard which was implemented as part of the landmark New York Times vs. Sullivan (1964) case to protect freedom of the press.

“No journalist should feel chilled by this pronouncement,” Randazza added.
“The First Amendment protects you even if you make an honest mistake in a case like this,
but it provides no shelter for someone who writes fiction
and calls it ‘journalism.’”


Why the Defamation Verdict Against Rolling Stone Could Chill Media Apologies
by Ashley Cullins
Hollywood Reporter, 2016-11-07 (Monday)


On Friday, a jury found in Eramo's favor, but don't miss the nuance.
A jury found that
Rolling Stone did not act with actual malice when it originally published the story.
Since Eramo needed to prove the publication recklessly disregarded the truth,
this portion of the verdict would lead most experts to expect the magazine to be in the clear.
However, that's obviously not the end to the story.
The jury also found that a Dec. 5, 2014 version of the online article
which included an editor's note apologizing for holes in the story
constituted a republication of "A Rape on Campus" —
and by then, the magazine had enough information to be dubious of the story's origins.
As such, only then did Rolling Stone act with actual malice.

“Actual malice relates to a party’s state of mind at a particular moment,”
says Fox Rothschild partner Lincoln Bandlow.
“If you’re provided with additional information such that your state of mind changes
and you still continue to make the statements, then you might have problems.”

After realizing there were discrepancies in Jackie's story,
the magazine issued an apology and committed to looking into the matter.
Many will see this as the responsible move,
but yet the decision to add that note to the problematic online story
is what led the jury to finding Rolling Stone liable for defamation.

“The message here is: don’t apologize,” says Venable partner Alex Weingarten.
“I don’t see how you could have the apology be effective
without putting it in the proper context and saying what it was in response to.”

Rolling Stone had asked the court to dismiss the republication claim
in a Sept. 20 court memo supporting its motion for summary judgment.

"The only change Rolling Stone made
was to add the Note to Readers at the top of the page on December 5, 2014,
putting readers on notice that Rolling Stone now questioned Jackie’s credibility,
promising a forthcoming investigation and apologizing to ''anyone affected by the story,'"
wrote attorney Elizabeth McNamara.
"It would be a cruel irony and an error for Defendants to face possible liability
because they took prompt and decisive steps to address and communicate their concerns with Jackie’s credibility."

Two days later, U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad declined to grant McNamara's plea.
Now, the promised irony has come to bear.


Rolling Stone faced widespread criticism for breaching journalistic standards
upon publication of "A Rape on Campus,"
but attorneys are split on
whether the publication should have been deemed to have defamed Eramo
even without the quirky issue of republication.

“The facts in this case are extreme,”
says Akin Gump partner Mark MacDougall.
"This verdict marks the boundary of
how far a writer and her publication can go in breaking the basic rules of journalism
before facing the consequences of false reporting.
When a reporter, an editor or a magazine behave like
they don’t care whether what they publish is false,
that’s enough to support a finding of actual malice.”

Ervin Cohen & Jessup counsel David Tarlow says Eramo is a sympathetic plaintiff
and he could see why a jury would rule in her favor,
but he was still surprised by the verdict.

“It’s a high standard for plaintiffs to get over in order to prevail,” says Tarlow.
“Any time you have this sort of verdict,
you’re going to send a chill through the journalistic community.”


Day 17 - Monday, 2016-11-07

Day 17: Jury awards $3 million in Rolling Stone defamation trial
by Lisa Provence
C-Ville, 2016-11-07

As former UVA dean Nicole Eramo’s marathon $7.5 million defamation suit against Rolling Stone rolled into its fourth week,
a jury awarded her $3 million in damages Monday for the magazine’s November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus.”

“This was nothing short of a complete repudiation
of Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely’s malicious journalism,”
said Eramo attorney Libby Locke.

The award put $2 million of the liability on reporter Erdely
for statements in her story and post-publication publicity,
and found Rolling Stone liable for $1 million
for republishing the story December 5, 2014,
with an editor’s note saying
it found one-named source Jackie no longer credible.

“I’m certainly happy to be putting it behind me
and getting to the next chapter of my life,”
said Eramo after the jury award.

“The real win was Friday and the verdict and the public repudiation of Rolling Stone,” said Locke.
“Shame on them. Shame on them.”

The Rolling Stone legal team,
along with Erdely and managing deputy editor Sean Woods,
left by the federal courthouse back door,
and when spotted in The Pointe lounge at the Omni Hotel,
declined to comment, but seemed rather cheery despite the jury’s decision.

“Yeah, we’re going to appeal,” said attorney Elizabeth McNamara.

Friday, November 4, was when, after two-and-a-half days of deliberation,
the jury found that Rolling Stone, Erdely and Wenner Media acted with actual malice
when it published the now debunked tale of UVA student Jackie’s alleged gang rape at Phi Kappa Psi
and its assertions that Eramo discouraged victims from reporting assaults
and had a “nonreaction” when Jackie told her about two additional gang rapes at Phi Psi.

The jury was back in court Monday for the damages portion of the trial.

Rolling Stone attorney David Paxton,
representing a chastened Rolling Stone that heard the jury’s verdict “loud and clear” on Friday and wanted “to take our medicine,” he said,
reminded jurors that the scope of the initial suit
had been narrowed to three statements in the story,
and not the article as a whole
nor the illustration of Eramo that she said made her “look like the devil.”

[Seems to me like some evil legal jujitsu that removed those from the jury's reach.]

After the Rolling Stone article came out,
Eramo’s anguish was so great, she said she curled into a ball,
wanted to disappear and considered suicide,
testimony that had one juror wiping a tear
and another nodding her head in agreement with the harm Eramo said the story caused her.

[You know, I wonder if it had been not Nicole, but Norman or Nelson Eramo,
but all other facts remained exactly the same,
if that person would have been portrayed so sympathetically by the media (other than RS of course),
and treated so well by the jury.]

When she first read the story,
Eramo found its account of a gang rape “heartbreaking,” and she was confused.
She said,
“I didn’t understand why [Jackie] didn’t let me help her.”

Then she read the parts about her, and said, with her voice breaking, it was
“somebody who had my name,
and then the picture was somebody who had my face,
but not somebody I recognized.”

The depiction of her discouraging survivors from reporting their assaults “was devastating to me,” she said.
“That was exactly the opposite of what I tried to do.”

Eramo described the “surreal” feeling of walking through Grounds after the story came out with everybody upset.
A SlutWalk to end rape culture ended up protesting outside her office,
and “created the picture that was in the story,” she said.

Fearing for her physical safety,
her husband would pick her up from work at night.
She turned the more than 200 vicious e-mails she received over to University Police,
and she read a sampling of them:

“I’m sickened by what I have read and you should be ashamed of yourself and how you treat victims of sexual assault.”

“You are a despicable human being.”

Another had the subject line: “Dean of rape.”

Eramo told the jury she cried constantly and couldn’t sleep or eat.
Using student lingo, she said, “I was a hot mess.”
She retreated into herself and “felt like a pox upon people near me,” she added.

The damages hearing also included testimony about her breast cancer.
A double mastectomy had been scheduled for December 19, 2014,
exactly one month after the Rolling Stone article was published.

By the end of January,
she had an infection and ended up in the hospital for nine days,
which caused her to abandon reconstruction and push back chemotherapy.

“I felt seriously debilitated going into my surgery,” she said.

Her doctor, Kant Lin, testified, “Stress is a very insidious thing,”
and created “an unfavorable situation for surgical healing.”

Her husband, Kirt von Daacke, a UVA history professor and assistant dean,
described the impact of the Rolling Stone story:
“Holy cow. When the article hit,
it was as if someone set the University of Virginia on fire.”

The day the article came out, he heard his wife crying at 5am.
“And it got worse from there,” he said,
with protests outside her office
and a faculty e-mail chain calling for her to be fired.
“I’ve never heard so many angry people talking about my wife,”
he said.

“They destroyed her,” he said.

And on the Sunday after the article came out,
he heard “sobbing from the abyss,” he said.
“It was a wail I’ve never heard from her.
She was curled up in the fetal position in a little ball.
I don’t know how we got through that.”

He also noted, “To me, it looks like she’s aged five years in the past two years.
It’s hard when you’re nearly 50 to have the career you thought you had taken away.”

Eramo’s attorney Tom Clare directed the jury to consider
the injury his client had suffered
from pain, embarrassment, humiliation or mental suffering.
Injury to her reputation and her professional standing,
including the “loss of her dream job,”
should also be part of the award, he said.

“Nicole’s great-grandchildren will never know her,” he said.
“What they will know is what’s on the Internet.”

Paxton countered that when her descendants Google her,
“the story is going to be about the vindication of Ms. Eramo.”

Jury awards $3M in Rolling Stone defamation case
Daily Progress, 2016-11-07


Before witnesses were called, Rolling Stone attorney David Paxton quickly told the jury that he understood the precarious position he was in — defending the magazine after it had already been found at fault. He noted that while it was tough to hear the verdict on Friday, “it was heard.”

“We accept your verdict,” Paxton said.

He continued that while he could not say the article did not harm Eramo, the jurors would have to assess her damages only to the extent of the precise statements that were found to be defamatory, and not the story as a whole. The magazine was not supposed to be penalized for its mistakes — the verdict rendered on Friday had already “sent a message,” he said — but rather Eramo was to be compensated for toll that those select statements took upon her.

Eramo was the first to take the stand, delivering hours of testimony about her life leading up to, during and after Erdely’s piece was published. She remained emotional throughout as she spoke about the sense of belonging she, her husband and their 9-year-old son, Alex, have always felt at UVa and in their Charlottesville neighborhood.

She became somber as she spoke about the morning of November 19, 2014, when she read the “heartbreaking” centerpiece narrative that she believed at the time to be true. She was disheartened to think that the student who alleged the account was not totally forthcoming, and Eramo was bewildered as to how she was going to face her co-workers later that day.

“It was like reading about someone who had my name,” Eramo said. “I just said, ‘How am I supposed to go to work today?’”

That day, she recalls, her office was uncharacteristically quiet. She was receiving encouraging messages and words from people that she worked with but was soon told to report to a 3 p.m. meeting with all of her case files.

“I thought I was going to be fired,” Eramo said.

She wasn’t, but she did have to turn over all of her cases to other administrators. She was then instructed to go home and rest, where she went into “lockdown mode” — avoiding social media and the negative buzz that the article had brought upon her.

Over the next several days, she worked with authorities to ensure her and her family’s safety, with vitriolic and threatening emails and social media messages spilling in from all corners. She said that by the Sunday after the article’s release, she found herself in a ball under her desk, sobbing and even contemplating suicide.

“I just wanted to disappear,” Eramo said, adding later about the influx of nasty emails: “It put me in the lowest point I’d ever been.”

In his cross-examination of Eramo, Paxton pointed out that while she had certainly suffered from the negative reaction, there was also an outpouring of support for Eramo after the article’s release. He pointed to two awards she received in the spring of 2015, along with letters of support from students and faculty.

Amid the fallout from the article, Eramo also was fighting a cancer diagnosis, with a surgery scheduled for Dec. 19, 2014 — one month after the article’s publication. She ended up receiving a double mastectomy, which led to an infection in January, during which time she had to spend nine days in a hospital.

Speaking to that, Eramo’s counsel brought in Dr. Kant Lin, a UVa professor and medical professional who specializes in reconstructive and plastic surgery for women who must undergo mastectomies. Lin testified that stress like that which came from Eramo’s special situation could be “insidious” and have a negative effect on her recovery and might have even prompted her infection.

When cross-examining Lin, Rolling Stone’s attorneys pointed out that Eramo’s medical files from her hospital stay showed no indications that she was suffering from any notable psychological ailments like stress or sleeplessness. While he took issue with the use of those records, as he did not write them, Lin conceded the point.


After two hours of deliberations, the jury returned and awarded Eramo $3 million — $2 million from Erdely for her defamatory statements in the original publication and $1 million from the magazine and its publisher for republishing the statements weeks later. Rolling Stone has already entered an agreement with Erdely to pay for damages assessed from her.


Rolling Stone’s False Rape Story Will End The Magazine
Rolling Stone hopes claiming a ‘badge of shame’ will save them. Not likely.
by Leslie Loftis
The Federalist, 2016-11-08

In another possibly lucky break for Rolling Stone,
the judge insisted on the damages award on Monday in the defamation case Eramo v. Rolling Stone.
The jury heard damages evidence until Monday evening, then were told to decide on an award before leaving for dinner.
[Judge Conrad had said he wanted a decision before
the voting for president on Tuesday, Nov. 8.]

They awarded $3 million to Nicole Eramo, the University of Virginia dean of students featured in Rolling Stone’s infamous November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus.”

Of this, the jury awarded $2 million from author Sabrina Rubin Erdely and $1 million from Rolling Stone.
I believe Virginia has “pure” joint and several liability,
meaning that Rolling Stone will likely end up paying the bulk of the award.
Still, the award is surprisingly low,
possibly reflecting the baseline damages the jury could quickly agree upon.


A Reckless Disregard for the Truth

The case started as well as Rolling Stone and Erdely should have expected given the facts. Before trial the judge found that Eramo was a limited-purpose public figure, and the law has a higher tolerance for defamation of public figures. Defaming statements must be false and harmful to reputation, but for public figures, those statements must also be made with malice.

Words don’t always have their common meaning in legal contexts, and malice in defamation generally means that the person making the statement believed the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for whether the statement was false. Therefore, the defense built a case on believability. They claimed that everyone believed Jackie, the source for the false rape claim and the root statement against Eramo.

The defense might have also gotten a break in the jury instructions.
According to reports, the judge instructed the jury that
failure to investigate did not constitute malice.
I suspect this accounted for most of the jury’s deliberation time.
They had to untangle the question:
if a journalist’s failure to investigate is not reckless disregard for the truth,
then what is?

Whether the jury found that
Jackie gave enough warning cues to conclude that
Erdely had reckless disregard for the truth for publishing Jackie’s tale,
or they recognized the value of journalism ethics,
which wisely do not allow journalists broad discretion
to publish whatever they happen to believe,
of nine statements of Erdely’s from the article and interviews about the article,
the jury found actionable defamation in all nine and malice in six of the nine.

The malice standard, however, almost saved Rolling Stone.
Of the five statements Eramo claimed against Rolling Stone,
the jury found defamation but not malice.
But recall,
the magazine had updated the story with an editor’s note on December 5, 2014.
If they had retracted the article with that note,
then Rolling Stone would have prevailed against the public-figure plaintiff.
Then-managing editor Will Dana, however,
did not remove the story from the website
until the Columbia School of Journalism finished its review the next spring.*

The jury found this update constituted a republishing of the defamatory statements,
and this time the jury found malice.
I suspect that this was their quickest deliberation.
The editor’s note was essentially an admission.
“We now know that the story is false,
but we are leaving it for the public to read anyway”
was the gist of Dana’s note.

We Do Want the Public to Believe Our Lie

The publisher and co-founder, Jann Wenner,
reinforced the error in his testimony.
He stated that he regretted the article retraction
when the magazine finally took the article down the next April.

Wenner wanted the jury to believe that
while the underlying story was false
and the characterization of Eramo as uncaring and indifferent to rape victims was false,
the general description of campus rape culture was true.
Erdely’s testimony hit this theme as well.
They ask the public to believe the overarching assertions are true
even though the evidence for those assertions crumbled.
[That's TeamPC, all right.
"Who cares about the truth?
We have our narrative and our theories,
about Designated Victims and Designated Villains,
and we will control what you hear and 'know'
in order to make those theories believable."
Exhibit A:
The propaganda campaign that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.]


5 takeaways from the Rolling Stone defamation verdict
by Bill Wyman
Columbia Journalism Review, 2016-11-29

Rolling Stone asks judge to overrule jury in UVa defamation case
AP/Richmond.com, 2016-12-06

Lawyers representing Rolling Stone have asked a federal judge to overrule a jury's decision
that the magazine defamed a University of Virginia administrator
in a retracted account of a fraternity gang gape.


In the filing on behalf of Rolling Stone and Erdely,
the lawyers argue that the judge, Glen E. Conrad,
should rule against the jury's decision,
particularly the jurors' finding that
the magazine published the article a second time in December 2014,
when an editor's note was appended to the online version of the story
but the story itself remained unchanged.
The jury concluded that by attaching the note at the top of the article
the magazine was addressing a different audience of readers
than those who had read the account the first time.

The magazine's lawyers disagreed, writing:
"There is no question that the article's unraveling
was a major black eye for Rolling Stone.
It defies logic for a jury to find that
by placing a prominent disclaimer on the article notifying readers
that Rolling Stone no longer stood behind Jackie as a source,
apologizing, and promising a full investigation,
Rolling Stone was actually trying to recruit a new audience
and spread now-discredited information from Jackie."

Eramo's legal team argued in court that
the magazine failed to completely retract the article until April 2015,
almost six months after the account was initially published.
But Rolling Stone's lawyers wrote in the new filing that
"evidence at trial consistently shows that Rolling Stone's intent
was to prominently warn the public about the problems in Jackie's story
and apologize for its errors."

The jury's decision, if allowed to stand,
could have lasting repercussions for journalism publications,
Rolling Stone's lawyers argue, writing that
the jury's finding could set a precedent that
would discourage news organizations
from acknowledging mistakes in a timely manner.

"Publishers will find a perverse incentive in this result:
if you do the right thing by appending a correction, retraction, or apology to an online article
as soon as you are aware that it may have problems,
you risk 'republishing' the content and facing seven-figure liability,"
Rolling Stone's lawyers wrote.
"Faced with these prospects,
many reasonable publishers will choose to stay silent
and not alert the public to concerns or errors in an article."

The appeal

For information about the Rolling Stone appeal of the jury’s verdict, see
“The Eramo / Erdely / Rolling Stone appeal”.