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$7.5M Lawsuit Over Fabricated UVA Rape Story

$7.5M Lawsuit Over Fabricated UVA Rape Story
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin Erdely did not sufficiently research and verify a student's account of gang rape and neither did anybody else at the nationwide publication with a readership of nearly 1.5 million. It has since been discovered that the young women's story was entirely fabricated and that she has a reputation as a "serial liar."

After clicking early on in college and sharing a passion for the same rock bands, two UVA students began a friendship that would soon turn rotten. Little did Ryan Duffin know, "Jackie" would soon entangle him, several of his Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers, and UVA administrators in a gang rape allegation that would be reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, becoming the center of national controversy.

From the beginning, Duffin did not want to pursue anything beyond friendship with "Jackie." However, the woman who was identified only as "Jackie" in the magazine article wanted more. It was then that Jackie created a fictitious character, "Haven Monahan," whom she alleged she knew from chemistry class. New court documents report that Monahan was created by Jackie to "catfish" Duffin into her desired romantic relationship. Through texts, Jackie, posing as Monahan told Duffin how she felt about him.

In late September of 2012, Jackie told Duffin that her date with Monahan took a turn for the worse after he and several other rushing fraternity brothers had gang raped her. Duffin and a group of friends rushed to a hysterical and traumatized Jackie to comfort her. Jackie did not appear to be injured at all and her dress was not mangled or torn. She also refused to report the alleged incident to the police or even go to the hospital for medical attention. Two days after the incident, Jackie told Duffin she forgave Monahan, which left Duffin to seriously doubt Monahan's existence, as he claimed in an interview with The Washington Post: "I was wondering how I didn't see through it way earlier."

The story did not appear until two years later, in July of 2015, when Erdely contacted Emily Renda, a rape survivor and U-VA staff member working with sexual assault victims. Erdely, who was searching for a singular college rape case to report on the "pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture" on college campuses was directed to what Renda called the "darker side" of the issue in fraternities. Erdely contacted "Jackie," who then recounted her gang rape experience. While at a fraternity campus party, "Jackie" claimed, she was lured to an upstairs bedroom around 12:52 am, where she was ambushed and gang raped. Ederly's 9,000-word story was published in Rolling Stone in November 2014. It was titled "A Rape on Campus."

Significant scrutiny and reports of multiple discrepancies resulted in an audit of the editorial processes leading up to the story's publication. The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism discredited the Rolling Stone article for a variety of reasons stating that the "assault could not have taken place the way it was described." For instance, the fraternity issued a statement that it did not host "a function or social event" that weekend, as was claimed by the alleged victim. The Washington Post also uncovered information in December 2014; reports that Jackie's friends claimed the "details of the attack have changed over time and that they have not been able to verify key points." The New York Times reported that police had "exhausted all investigative leads" to find "no substantive basis" for the Rolling Stone's article. The article was retracted and the magazine's managing editor and article's author both apologized. Ederly later acknowledged that she "did not go far enough to verify her story.”

As a result of the fabricated story and the damage done to UVA Associate Dean, Nicole Eramo's reputation and filed a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone and Erdely for failing to perform the basic tenants of journalism. As a top administrator, Eramo stated she was cast a "chief villain" in the discredited piece. Lawyers are now asking for the alleged victim to produce text message and "other communications in the case" since it would expose her to be a "serial liar." Duffin stated that, "had any of us been contacted it never would have blown up like this," referring to the Rolling Stone magazine.

Comments (20)
Michael A. 1/17/2016
Freud posited that all human beings are comprised of the innate abilities to do great good AND evil. So how was it even possible that this story be accepted at face value, without a reasonably thorough investigation to elucidate both sides of truth? Selfish ambition is one answer, and it too is considered an evil, even in Western cultures that promote individual achievement above all else. The bottom line is that the story was driven by Jackie, who lied enormously in the first place. This was a terrible evil that set the rest of this evil quagmire in motion. Next, enter Erdely who saw herself as the most important factor in the entire story on a number of levels. Mostly, its clear that her evil ambition for the accomplishment and money associated with the successful publication of the story, created a bias that made the truth impossible. We have all been conditioned to accept evil by default in our news stories. If we thought as highly of good, this story would never have happened.
Jennye J 1/17/2016
It's unfortunate that Jackie is contributing to the reason as to why a bunch of rape victims are not taken seriously. When girls like Jackie expand the truth or even make up the horrific matter, it makes it harder for the actual victims do be believed and to get their rapist incarcerated. As many of the comments said below, rape is a serious matter that should not be fooled around with.
Dasia W 1/14/2016
Rape is nothing to fool around about and should be taken serious just like any other harmful incident . You could tell she was lyin from the start because nothing added up. Her dress wasn't mangaled , she didn't want to go to the hospital. A truthful person and a concern person about there health would go to the hospital to make sure nothing was wrong with them after the incident.
Destinee C 1/13/2016
This reminds me so much of Steven Glass and how he also fabricated tons of stories published be "The New Republic". Why do writers do these types of things? Think of everyone around you, and how this is affecting their lives for your actions. It makes me sick thinking how people would throw away their dreams just to make an appealing story. You studied to so hard to be where you're at, don't screw it up by doing something that'll consequently make you begin again at square one.
Alyssa W. 1/13/2016
Whenever a girl cries a rape and it's fake, it makes it that much harder for real victims to get help. Does "Jackie" have any idea how traumatizing and painful a REAL gang rape can be? I hope that she learns that making such serious allegations and letting it go that far is totally wrong and completely inappropriate
Erika L. 1/13/2016
Why did she do it? Attention? "Jackie" did a terrible thing by lying. For doing that she probably ruined innocent lives. As for the writer she should of gone into detail before Washington Post corrected the story. "Jackie" not only ruined the school name but also clouded the judgment of the police. For the real rape victims to come out they would probably be shunned, it's harder even today for the police to believe the victims. Rolling Stone is a popular magazine which many many people have read. The story is a juicy, job promoting topic, as a reporter she should've dig deeper because a student lying about rape. Is a way better story that can have many lessons or point of view. She also hurt the magazine and the school who knows what damage they caused.
Me 1/13/2016
Bla Bla Bla \r\n\r\nNew Line
Bonita H 1/13/2016
The fact that she would even make something up is disgusting to me. There are girls out there who really have been in situations such as this one and are afraid to speak a word at all. She's willing to make up this extensive fabricated story simply because a guy didn't want to take things beyond a friendship with her? That's appalling seriously
Eboni.R 1/13/2016
Rape is a very offensive matter and in some cases not taken seriously but because people like Jackie want to lie and manipulate rape makes others don't even have a second thought about the situation.
Laura M. 1/12/2016
In this article both the young lady "Jackie" and the rolling stone take blame because as somebody who is going to write about such a delicate situation should look more into the story and also rape isn't exactly a funny thing to lie about especially when there are some cases like that.
Dara B 1/12/2016
You must always interview people first.
Lorenzo M. 1/12/2016
Why would she go so far in this so called "rape story" just get with Duffin. Also, the Rolling Stones should of reviewed the story with witness that can verify it's true. Honestly Jackie shouldn't sue the Rolling Stones, she was the one that lied.
TaKyler B. 1/12/2016
I remember reading that Rolling Stone's article for my violence against women themed english class. I thought about using the article as a source which I later found out I could not but this info really makes me glad that I did not.
Jozlyn R. 1/12/2016
This is a lesson learned for these publishers " verify the facts first"
ursula. s 1/12/2016
U know what, I'm a female and I find that most women who make up, fictional stories like this, are no good nasty **[censored]** on the prowl. How could someone get so deep in their own selfish ways to make others look, terrible. What rotten person. I don't blame men for not wanting someone like her. Some females can be real monsters. Wow!??
Dania Houston 1/12/2016
I am looking foward to applying for these schlorships to help with my is very good to be able to find these all in one spot.
Ember C. 1/12/2016
I feel as if they should have checked their information before publishing it in a well known magazine . There may not be any signs of rape , but someone who pretended to be raped most likely would not even try to reach out to others even two years later. Most would just drop the situation after they've gotten their desired attention
Stephanie C 1/12/2016
That's very interesting
rosedarline V. 1/12/2016
This story has a very important message be careful who you friend with.
Joe T. 1/12/2016
This is what happens when you defame people without even bothering to interview any of the 3 witnesses who first found her, or even bothering to check the facts.
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