Jury Finds Rolling Stone Reporter Guilty of Defamation With Malice

A resounding set of verdicts.

After two days of deliberation, a 10-person jury in Charlottesville, Va. handed down its verdicts today in the defamation lawsuit filed by University of Virginia associate dean of students Nicole Eramo. They are very bad news for Rolling Stone magazine, parent company Wenner Media and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely, author of the since-redacted November 2014 investigation “A Rape on Campus.”

Per The Washington Post, the trial began Oct. 17, with Eramo seeking $7.5 million in damages. She can ask for a different sum now, following the verdicts.

In a statement sent to FishbowlNY and other media outlets, Rolling Stone apologized for its mistakes:

For almost 50 years, Rolling Stone has aimed to produce journalism with the highest reporting and ethical standards, and with a strong humanistic point of view. When we published “A Rape on Campus” in 2014, we were attempting to tackle the very serious and complex topic of sexual assault on college campuses, a subject that is more relevant today than ever.

In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor, we overlooked reporting paths and made journalistic mistakes that we are committed to never making again. We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms. Eramo. It is our deep hope that our failings do not deflect from the pervasive issues discussed in the piece, and that reporting on sexual assault cases ultimately results in campus policies that better protect our students. We will continue to publish stories that shine a light on the defining social, political and cultural issues of our times, and we will continue to seek the truth in every story we publish.

As The New York Times reminded this past weekend via a piece focused on Jann Wenner, Erdely when she wrote the article in question had just begun a $300,000 writing contract with Rolling Stone.

Update (Nov. 7):
The jury today has set the final damages amount at $3 million:

The jury awarded Eramo $2 million from Erdely and $1 million from Rolling Stone, less than half of the original $7.5 million that Eramo sought when she filed her lawsuit in May 2015.

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