The University of Virginia associate dean currently suing Rolling Stone magazine is accusing “Jackie” and her attorneys of disobeying a court order.
Attorneys for Nicole Eramo, the UVa administrator who filed a $7.85 million lawsuit against the magazine last May, submitted a motion on Monday to hand over supplemental documents that they say show that Jackie, a third party in the suit, has withheld documents that are being sought as part of a federal court order.
Jackie’s story of her brutal gang rape by seven men at a fraternity party served as the centerpiece of “A Rape on Campus,” a 9,000-word article on the climate of sexual assault at American universities that was released in November 2014, stirring up widespread controversy and condemnation of UVa and its Greek life. When key elements of Jackie’s story were disputed by other media outlets, a Charlottesville police investigation and a review by the Columbia University journalism school, the magazine backpedaled on its support of Jackie’s account and, in April 2015, retracted the story.
Eramo, an administrator tasked with providing support for student survivors of sexual assault, said her career, reputation and personal health suffered after the highly publicized article inaccurately portrayed her as ineffective and uncaring in her dealings with Jackie, and she filed a defamation suit against the magazine, its publisher and the story’s author a month after the article’s retraction.
While she is not named as a defendant in the case, Jackie has been a frequent subject of Eramo’s court proceedings since the initial filing. Eramo has sought to have Jackie turn over all communications related to her alleged rape and to sit for a deposition, but those motions have been challenged at every step by Jackie’s attorneys, who have long stated that their client should be excused from participating in the lawsuit, given her status as a third party and as a victim of sexual assault.
In January, the court ordered Jackie to comply with Eramo’s subpoena and therefore turn over any requested communications in her possession, including communications between Ryan Duffin, a friend of Jackie’s around the time of her alleged rape, and someone named “Haven Monahan,” the man identified in the article as having allegedly brought Jackie to the fraternity house and participated in her assault.
The Charlottesville Police Department’s investigation into Jackie’s claims said authorities never found evidence that Monahan ever existed, and Eramo’s attorneys have long contended that Monahan is a love interest invented by Jackie.
Since that January order, Eramo’s attorneys say they still have not received any of the communications related to Haven Monahan, and that Jackie’s counsel refuses to state whether Jackie did in fact author any of the Haven Monahan documents that are known to exist.
According to a series of emails obtained through court records, the two sides of counsel maintained a contentious back-and-forth from mid- to late March about the Haven Monahan documents, with Eramo’s attorneys insisting they have evidence that Jackie penned the communications and have access to them, and Jackie’s attorneys maintaining they have fulfilled their obligation to turn over all of the documents in Jackie’s possession.
“But to be clear, this isn’t a negotiation,” states Andy Phillips, one of Eramo’s attorneys, in an email from March 21. “There is an outstanding, unambiguous court order that requires you to produce certain documents that you and I (and the Court) know exist. … You have not told me why you have not produced those documents.”
“To be clear, I never stated that I was seeking a negotiation,” Rebecca Anzidei, one of Jackie’s attorneys, replied the following evening. “As we have already explained, [Jackie] is not withholding any responsive, non-privileged documents. We continue to believe that any motion filed with the court would be baseless and a waste of time and resources.”
A week after this exchange, Eramo’s attorneys issued a subpoena to Yahoo! Inc. seeking information associated with the email account “email@example.com.” Yahoo responded to the subpoena on April 23, providing Eramo with the IP addresses from which the email was accessed and the corresponding dates and times.
According to court documents, Yahoo showed that the email account was created in Charlottesville at an IP address “allocated to the University of Virginia” on Oct. 2, 2012, only one day before that same account sent an email to Jackie’s friend Ryan Duffin.
Yahoo further showed that the Monahan email had last been accessed from an IP address in Washington, D.C., that was “allocated to ALTG, Stein, Mitchell, Muse & Cipollone LLP” — the same firm representing Jackie — on March 18, days before and after Jackie’s counsel stated they were not in possession of the Haven Monahan documents.
Eramo’s attorneys state that the Yahoo subpoena “definitively and conclusively” proves that Jackie created the email account and that her counsel has had access to the account all along without telling the court.
Eramo’s counsel reached out to Jackie’s on May 2, providing Yahoo’s findings and again demanding the Haven Monahan communications. Jackie’s counsel again responded that they had complied with the January court order and that Yahoo’s findings “[do] not alter or change the above facts in any way,” according to a letter from Anzidei sent on May 6.
Anzidei has not responded to calls for comment on the matter.
In their Monday filing, Eramo’s attorneys said they believe sanctions against Jackie’s counsel at Stein, Mitchell, Muse & Cipollone LLP are “warranted and appropriate.” Eramo’s attorneys could not be reached for comment on the matter.
Rolling Stone is facing two other lawsuits related to the retracted article: one from the UVa chapter of Phi Kappa Psi and another from three alumni fraternity members.