November 4, 2016: 6:02 PM ET
A jury found Rolling Stone magazine liable for defamation on Friday over its explosive and later discredited story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house.
The magazine’s publisher and the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, were also found liable.
The jury found in favor of Nicole Eramo, a school administrator who said that the story portrayed her as callous and insensitive to the plight of an alleged rape victim. She is seeking $7.5 million. The jury will return Monday to consider damages.
In the story, “A Rape on Campus,” a woman identified only as Jackie claimed that she had been beaten and raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house. Eramo said that she was “the chief villain of the story,” in part because she was described as discouraging Jackie from going to the police.
Eramo wept in court as the verdict was read.
The 9,000-word article was met with outrage nationwide when it was published in November 2014, and the school suspended all fraternities.
But Jackie’s claims were quickly questioned. Charlottesville police found no evidence that the rape happened. And journalists and readers were stunned to learn that Erdely never spoke to the men identified as Jackie’s attackers.
The jury found that the magazine and publisher, Wenner Media, were liable for defamation for three parts of the story after they republished it several weeks later with an editor’s note. The note acknowledged doubts about Jackie’s account but did not change or remove any part of the original story.