Trials & Litigation

3 UVa grads sue Rolling Stone over discredited fraternity-rape story

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Three graduates of the University of Virginia sued Rolling Stone magazine in federal court in New York on Wednesday over a discredited story about a claimed rape at a fraternity near the college.

The article did not name names, and the Charlottesville police department later said it found no evidence that a rape had occurred. However, plaintiffs George Elias IV, Russ Fowler and Stephen Hadford said they were identifiable in the article as Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers at the time of the claimed rape by matching publicly available facts on social media with facts provided in the article, reports the Washington Post (reg. req.). All three graduated from UVa in 2013.

Filed in the Southern District of New York, their complaint asserts causes of action for defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress and says “many readers reasonably understood that the article referred to plaintiffs’ pledge class and immediately identified plaintiffs Elias, Hadford and Fowler as three of the participants in the alleged gang rape.” Numerous claimed facts in the article were false and defamatory, the suit says.

It seeks an apparent jurisdictional amount of damages. In addition to the magazine itself, publisher Wenner Media and the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, are named as defendants.

The Associated Press and the Washington Times also have stories.

Related coverage: “Rolling Stone backs away from UVa gang-rape story that resulted in fraternity sanctions”

See also: “UVa official sues Rolling Stone, says she was ‘chief villain’ in retracted rape article”

Hollywood Reporter: “Rolling Stone Argues University of Virginia Vouched for Discredited Rape Story”

New York Times (reg. req.): “Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s Managing Editor, to Depart”

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