A federal jury in Virginia on Friday found Rolling Stone liable of defaming a University of Virginia administrator by publishing a since-retracted story about an alleged gang rape at the school.
The decision followed a three-week trial in US District Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the administrator, Nicole Eramo, sued the magazine, owner Wenner Media and reporter Sabrina Erdely for US$7.9 million.
The jury returns tomorrow to determine damages in the case.
Erdely was found liable of actual malice, a key element in libel law, in six statements in the November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus.”
Rolling Stone and Wenner Media were each found liable of actual malice in three statements, according to court documents.
To prove defamation, it must be shown that a media organization published what it knew to be false, or did so with reckless disregard for the truth.
The magazine had reported that a female student known as Jackie was raped at a university fraternity in 2012.
Rolling Stone retracted the story in April last year after inconsistencies arose and police found no evidence of an attack. It was an embarrassing blow to the pop culture magazine founded by Jann Wenner in 1967.
Campus sexual assault remains a major concern in the US, with some reports estimating that one in five female students will be victims of it during their college years.
Eramo, who was then an associate dean of students, accused the magazine of portraying her as the story’s villain and focused on hushing up sexual assault reports. She now works in an administrative role at the university.
Mark MacDougall, an attorney at New York’s Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld law firm, said actual malice did not mean that the defendants had to dislike Eramo or wish her harm.
“When a reporter, an editor or a magazine behave like they don’t care whether what they publish is false, that’s enough to support a finding of actual malice,” MacDougall said in an e-mailed comment.
In a statement, Rolling Stone spokeswoman Kathryn Brenner said: “We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms Eramo.”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable