From Publication to Verdict: A Timeline of the Rolling Stone Defamation Lawsuit

phi-kappa-psiIn November 2014, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine, published an article regarding a gang rape that supposedly took place in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia. After the alleged rape had been investigated and proven false, UVa Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo sued Rolling Stone Magazine for Defamation. Nearly two years after the article was written, a verdict has finally been reached; Erdely, Rolling Stone, and publisher Wenner Media have each been found guilty of multiple counts of defamation.

Here is a look at the Eramo v. Rolling Stone trial throughout the past two years:

November 19, 2014: Sabrina Rubin Erdely publishes her article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” to the Rolling Stone magazine, reporting that Jackie, a student, was allegedly gang raped by “Drew” and a group of eight other men on September 28, 2012.

December 5, 2014: After suspicions began to arise, Rolling Stone releases a statement admitting that there may have been some conflicting facts in Jackie’s statements, causing more questions to arise.

December 7-14, 2014: Friend and roommate accounts regarding Jackie’s situation are found to be inconsistent. Emily Clark, Jackie’s freshman year roommate, states that Jackie seemed unusually depressed during the fall semester of 2012, and writes about it in one of The University’s newspapers. Jackie’s friends, however, suspect that “Drew” is a made up boy.

March 23, 2015: After a five month investigation, police find no evidence to confirm that a rape took place at Phi Kappa Psi or any other fraternity on Grounds and that nearly nothing of Jackie’s story was true.

April 5, 2015: After the Columbia Journalism School concluded their investigation for Rolling Stone, which Rolling Stone Magazine had requested of them in December, it was concluded that the article “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” was false, and Rolling Stone retracted the story.

May 13, 2015: Nicole Eramo, head of The University of Virginia’s Sexual Misconduct Board, sues Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and Wenner Media for misrepresenting her as  suppressing and disregarding.

July 29, 2015: Former Phi Kappa Psi members George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler, sue Rolling Stone for defamation. The members’ case is dismissed because they were not mentioned in the article. Additionally, Rolling Stone’s Managing Editor Will Dana steps down.

October 17, 2016: 12-day trial begins.

November 2, 2016: Jury spends 7 hours deliberating Eramo v. Rolling Stone case.

November 4, 2016: Jury finds Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and Wenner Media guilty of defamation against Nicole Eramo. $7.5 million will be Eramo’s compensation.


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