UVA Fraternity Files $25M Lawsuit Against Rolling Stone

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The fraternity portrayed in a debunked account of a gang rape in a retracted Rolling Stone magazine story is seeking $25 million from the company and its publishers.

The Virginia Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi on Monday filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone LLC, Wenner Media LLC., Straight Arrow Publishers LLC, and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, according to court documents.

The lawsuit says the November 2014 article made the fraternity and its members “the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide.”

Rolling Stone spokeswoman Kathryn Brenner said the magazine has no comment on the lawsuit.

In November 2014, Rolling Stone magazine published an article detailing one student’s chilling allegations that she was sexually assaulted and did not receive help from school administration. The story was later discredited after a report published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism earlier this year said Rolling Stone failed at virtually every step of the process, from the author’s reporting to an editing process that included high-ranking staffers.

No one at Rolling Stone was fired as a result of the article, titled “A Rape on Campus.” Dana posted an apology on the publication’s website, and Erdely also apologized in a statement.

The article roiled the U.Va. community, sparking protests at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house and a wrenching period of soul-searching by the university. For the three former students, the article made them unable to focus on school and work, and embarrassed them about their association with the fraternity.

Despite its flaws, the Rolling Stone article heightened scrutiny of campus sexual assaults amid a campaign by President Barack Obama. The University of Virginia had already been on the Department of Education’s list of 55 colleges under investigation for their handling of sexual assault violations.

The article also prompted President Teresa Sullivan to temporarily suspend Greek social events. Fraternities later agreed to ban kegs, hire security workers and keep at least three fraternity members sober at each event.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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