Niche College Scholarship Blog


Defamed Dean Dealt $3M Decision

Defamed Dean Dealt $3M Decision
Susan Dutca-Lovell

The Associate Dean featured as the "chief villain" in a discredited Rolling Stone article on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia has been awarded $3 million by a federal court jury. This decision followed an earlier ruling that the discredited article ruined her reputation and "undermined her work to help students who had been sexually assaulted."

In November 2014, Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Erdely wrote the story "A Rape on Campus," which narrated an alleged 2012 gang rape of an anonymous student named "Jackie" by seven males during a fraternity party. The story triggered a nationwide debate over sexual assault at U.S. colleges and the university's purported "indifferent response" to the alleged assault. Shortly following its publication, the article was retracted after "devastating questions were raised about its veracity." The discrepancies were acknowledged by reputable media outlets including The Washington Post, Slate, and the New York Times. The Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism also joined in on the investigation and concluded that it was a "journalistic failure that was avoidable." In addition to the many discrepancies, police found no evidence the gang rape ever took place.

Ms. Nicole Eramo initially sued Rolling Stone magazine for $7.5 million, claiming the 9,000-word article marred her reputation and caused emotional distress. Instead of attempting to "sound alarm about campus sexual assault" and challenging "Virginia and other universities to do better,” the article suggested Eramo took zero action in response to the alleged gang rape. Consequently, the "magazine's failure may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations."

The winning lawsuit claimed that the "highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the result of an innocent mistake" and furthermore, "were the result of a wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts." The jury ordered Erdely to pay Eramo $2 million and Rolling Stone to pay an additional $1 million.

Comments (6)
Sarah M. 11/9/2016
The shear thought of being gang raped then having some journalist basically verbally rape your of any last shred of emotion, say so much about this young lady's strength and I commend her for having the strength to fight of the cruelty of not only her rapist but the options and judgments of her peers.
Victoria R. 11/9/2016
A rape on anyone is never justifiaby or agreeable. The rape cases that happen in the USA and in their college campuses is horrific to what the world is coming to. But there have been lies, false accusations to people being raped. That needs to be handled with. Also, since women are most likely to be raped. I don't think it's the matter of what you wear, it's about the policy of the American people.
Patricia A 11/9/2016
I definitely believe that there is a lot of sexual assaults that take place on college campuses that are never discussed or brought to light. However, Ialso think that it was wrong of Elderly and Rolling Stone to make up and publish such an article just for ratings. This I think is disrespectful to the women who have been abused and there is no excuse for it.
Justin P. 11/9/2016
The large topic of discussion is obviously sexual assult. Is it a problem? Yeah, when it ever happens anywhere that's an issue we must look into! No wonder people got all riled up about it. But on the other hand, dishonesty to boost numbers and income? Come on people, would you just fly strait with your businesses for once?! The american dream is to be worked for not cheated into.
Paola Sanchez 11/9/2016
I think it's awful that rape and or sexual assault happens. I think the universities should take bigger procautions on how to prevent it. I am a strong believer in as a Hispanic Woman in believing in your own beliefs and also dressing how you want. If I were to wear a skirt and a short shirt, it if for my personal preference not because "I am asking for it." My Fashion sense is about who I am and really shows a lot about a person. Fashion is never for sexual proposes.
Lili o 11/9/2016
Wow a misleading story that was published what a shame. This is not ok at all to publish false stories just to catch people to buy their newspapers. The stories need to be checked before they get published.
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