The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at the University of Virginia filed a $25 million lawsuit Monday against Rolling Stone magazine, which published an article in 2014 that alleged a freshman was gang raped at the house during a party.
The lawsuit focuses on a Rolling Stone article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which detailed a harrowing attack on a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012. The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described how Jackie was raped by seven men while two others watched in a second floor bedroom while a fraternity party raged downstairs. The article alleged that the attack was part of a hazing ritual at the long-time U-Va. fraternity.
The Washington Post found significant discrepancies in the Rolling Stone account, including that the fraternity did not host a party that night in 2012 and that a student identified by Jackie as her main attacker was never a member of the fraternity and did not attend U-Va.
That is a steep penalty for being careless and wrong. I also jumped on the story on this blog. I had little reason to not believe Rolling Stone. I grew up 2 blocks from that frat house and I know bad things happen at UVA as well as most other campuses across this country. I also had a friend gang raped while she was passed out at a college near Richmond, back when I was in college. Yes, it can and does happen.
The point now becomes, the entire story was a lie. A girl’s fantasy. She got with a Rolling Stone reporter who clearly did not document her sources. She was lackadaisical and careless. She libeled and slandered not just the current Phi Psi members but also everyone who was a member of that fraternity.
25 million might be excessive but it gets our attention. It sure got mine. There is yet one unanswered question–what are the consequences for Jackie, the mystery girl? To date, I have heard of none.