A Virginia judge has ruled that the woman at the center of Rolling Stone’s discredited story about an alleged frat house gang rape must testify as part of a lawsuit against the magazine.
The woman identified only as “Jackie” will be deposed on Thursday by attorneys representing Rolling Stone and Nicole Eramo, the University of Virginia administrator who is suing the magazine and the author of the now-retracted article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
Erdely’s 2014 piece, “A Rape On Campus,” featured Jackie’s graphic claim to have been raped by a group of fraternity members during her freshman year at UVA.
Eramo, an associate dean of students at UVA, is suing Rolling Stone and Erdely for defamation over what she says was an unfair portrayal of her as an insensitive campus bureaucrat in the story. She is seeking $7.85 million in damages.
The story unraveled after doubts about Jackie’s allegation surfaced. Police eventually said they found no evidence that the rape occurred, and an independent review conducted by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism found sweeping editorial failures on the part of Rolling Stone.
Attorneys for Jackie had resisted the deposition, arguing that she would be re-victimized if forced to recount the incident under oath and it could bring her “extreme psychological” and “irreparable harm.”
At a hearing held Monday in a Charlottesville, Virginia, Judge Glen E. Conrad denied a motion filed by Jackie’s attorneys to quash the deposition subpoena.
Conrad ruled that all records and transcripts of the deposition will be sealed, and that it will be held at a “mutually convenient location, with priority given to the convenience of and comfort” of Jackie.
The judge said that the plaintiff’s attorneys may depose Jackie for five hours over a two-day period, or may petition for additional time.
Libby Locke, an attorney for Eramo, said Rolling Stone’s negligence led to her client’s unflattering portrayal.
“Jackie was Rolling Stone’s sole source for the false tale of rape that it recklessly published. There were numerous red flags in Jackie’s account, which should have put Rolling Stone on notice that she was not a credible source for information,” Locke said. “Nevertheless, Rolling Stone was dead set on portraying Dean Eramo as a callous administrator who discouraged Jackie from reporting an assault to police — when in fact, it appears that Jackie knew that her tale of rape would not have stood up under real scrutiny and investigation. Had Rolling Stone done the fact-checking and digging that they were legally and ethically required to do as journalists, Dean Eramo would not have been so wrongfully targeted.”
Attorneys for Rolling Stone and Jackie did not respond to a request for comment.
Rolling Stone also faces a $25 million suit from the UVA fraternity Phi Kappa Psi that was named in the article.
Three former frat members have also filed a suit against Rolling Stone, but have not specified an amount.