Jury finds author and Rolling Stone responsible for defamation of former UVA dean Nicole Eramo

Courtesy of AP Graphics
Courtesy of AP Graphics

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A jury just ruled that Rolling Stone and the author who wrote an article claiming mishandling of rape at UVA is responsible for defamation against the former UVA dean Nicole Eramo.

The $7.5 million defamation suit against Rolling Stone magazine stems from its retracted story about a brutal gang rape involving UVA students.

Local media organizations report that jurors went home Wednesday without reaching a verdict before reconvening and deciding around 1:45 p.m. Friday.

University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo says the 2014 article portrayed her as a villain who discouraged the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting her alleged sexual assault to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims.

Rolling Stone’s attorneys say there’s no evidence that the reporter knew what she was writing about Eramo was false or had serious doubts about whether it was true.

Jurors heard closing arguments on Tuesday after listening to more than two weeks’ worth of evidence.

8News reporter Mark Tenia who was there said that the jury will now have to decide what damages to award Eramo, though this decision may not happen today.

The jury was given the option of coming back Sat or next week.

Rolling Stone released the following statement after the verdict was announced:

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. When we published ‘A Rape on Campus’ in 2014, we were attempting to tackle the very serious and complex topic of sexual assault on college campuses, a subject that is more relevant today than ever.  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. 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.  We will continue to publish stories that shine a light on the defining social, political and cultural issues of our times, and we will continue to seek the truth in every story we publish.”

This is a developing story.

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