Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students at the University of Virginia, is suing Rolling Stone magazine and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely for their portrayal of her in a story, now discredited, about sexual assault at UVa.
Eramo is seeking nearly $8 million in damages for six counts of defamation. The scope of the lawsuit includes the article, titled “A Rape on Campus,” and several statements by Erdely and representatives of the magazine during the ensuing media firestorm.
According to the 77-page lawsuit, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon, the article falsely portrayed Eramo as indifferent to the plight of “Jackie,” a young woman, profiled in the article, who claimed she had been gang-raped by several members of a UVa fraternity.
The lawsuit cites several passages in the story, which alleges that Eramo told the woman not to file a report with the university or cooperate with the police. The lawsuit alleges that these statements were false, and that Jackie had refused to take any further steps in the investigation.
“Erdely and Rolling Stone’s statements concerning Dean Eramo are defamatory per se because they attribute to Dean Eramo unfitness to perform the duties of her profession, and foreseeably would hurt Dean Eramo in her profession,” reads the complaint.
It also cites several statements by Erdely in subsequent media interviews, in which she said, among other things, the victim had been “brushed off,” by the administration, implicating Eramo in a kind of cover-up.
UVa released a statement saying it supports Eramo’s lawsuit.
“The University of Virginia previously stated that the Rolling Stone article is an example of irresponsible journalism, which has damaged the reputation of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia,” read the statement.
“Dean Eramo is well within her rights to pursue this private legal action.”