A University of Virginia associate dean is suing Rolling Stone and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely over the way the magazine portrayed her in the infamous, retracted story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA.”
Nicole Eramo filed a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the story—based largely on the testimony of the alleged victim—cast her as the “chief villain” and falsely depicted her as indifferent to campus sexual assaults.
Eramo appears in a number of passages in the retracted story, in passages like “If Dean Eramo was surprised at Jackie’s story of gang rape, it didn’t show,” and “Jackie was mortified to learn later that Eramo had shared her identity with another UVA administrator.”
And then there’s this, one of the most startling paragraphs in the entire story:
Asked why UVA doesn’t publish all its data, President Sullivan explains that it might not be in keeping with “best practices” and thus may inadvertently discourage reporting. Jackie got a different explanation when she’d eventually asked Dean Eramo the same question. She says Eramo answered wryly, “Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”
Eramo isn’t entirely shown as a villain, though. The story acknowledges she has “among the most difficult jobs at UVA” and that she’s “beloved by survivors, who consider her a friend and confidante,” or “their best advocate and den mother.”
The associate dean had previously written to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, following the story’s public debunking and subsequent autopsy by the Columbia Journalism School, to dispute the sections about her:
In the article and in related media appearances, Rolling Stone and Ms. Erdely stated that I discouraged Jackie from reporting or discussing her alleged assault, that Jackie suffered ‘abuse’ at my hands when she tried to hold the perpetrators accountable, that I called UVA ‘the rape school,’ that I did not ‘support’ Jackie,” Eramo wrote in late April. “Rolling Stone celebrated these malicious and false allegations by accompanying the article with a cartoonish picture of me doctored to appear as though I was smiling and giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to a crying victim sitting in my office.”