'Rolling Stone' Settles With University Of Va. Over Defamation Case

Rolling Stonehas agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by the University of Virginia Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity over a discredited article about an alleged rape at the fraternity, bringing an end to a string of lawsuits over the November 2014 story.

According to multiple sources, the magazine, owned by parent company Wenner Media, agreed to pay $1.65 million.

The fraternity had originally sought a trial by jury and $25 million in damages, claiming the story made the fraternity and its members "the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide.” The trial was scheduled to begin in October.

In a statement, the fraternity wrote: “It has been nearly three years since we and the entire University of Virginia community were shocked by the now infamous article, and we are pleased to be able to close the book on that trying ordeal and its aftermath.”



The fraternity said it planned to donate “a significant portion” of the settlement to organizations that provide sexual assault awareness education, prevention training and victim counseling services on college campuses.

This settlement closes the book on three lawsuits brought on by the article “A Rape On Campus.”

In April, Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the article, settled a lawsuit brought by University of Virginia administrator, Nicole P. Eramo.

Eramo claimed in the suit the article defamed her and portrayed her as the “chief villain.” In November 2016, a federal jury ordered Rolling Stone and Erdely to pay Eramo $3 million in damages. Eramo was originally seeking $7.5 million.

A third lawsuit, filed by three former Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members, was dismissed last June.

"A Rape on Campus" sparked a national conversation on the prevalence of campus sexual assault, as it portrayed Jackie as the victim of an alleged gang rape at a fraternity party. The story was retracted in April 2015 after investigations by The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review and the Charlottesville police contradicted the magazine’s account.

A lot has happened at Wenner Media since the troubling article was published. In September, the company sold a 49% stake in Rolling Stone to BandLab Technologies, a digital music and media company based in Singapore, for an undisclosed sum.

In March, Wenner Media sold its celebrity magazine Us Weekly to American Media Inc., and let go of roughly 35 of 115 employees at the publication.

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