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Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Jackie’ Ordered to Turn Over Rolling Stone Docs

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CN) - A federal judge said that the young woman at the center of now-debunked Rolling Stone article on a gang rape at the University of Virginia must turn over her communications with the magazine as part of a pending defamation suit.

Nicole Eramo, an associate dean at the university is suing Rolling Stone for its depiction of her in the 2014 article. The story purported to depict the experience of a student identified only as "Jackie," who claimed she was brutally raped during a fraternity party, and then was callously treated by Eramo and other university officials.

The story was later discredited and the editor who published it has since been replaced by Rolling Stone.

On Jan. 6, attorneys representing Eramo filed a motion seeking communications between Jackie, Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely and the magazine's editors.

The attorneys pull no punches in their filing, calling Jackie a "serial liar who invented people, events, and text messages" to bolster her account.

"The story was a lie when she first told it in 2012, and it was no more true when Rolling Stone recklessly published the tale in 2014," the motion says.

An hour-and-10-minute hearing on the motion was held on Tuesday, and afterwards, Chief U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad said he would grant most of what Eramo's attorneys were seeking.

Lawyers for Jackie, who is not a party to the lawsuit, had argued that as an alleged victim of a sexual assault, she should be immune from complying with the request.

Eramo's attorneys countered by insisting, "Jackie simply has no legal basis to claim complete immunity from discovery regarding her gravely consequential fabrications."

They assert that the gang rape story was concocted as part of an ill-conceived attempt on Jackie's part to attract the interest of a classmate.

The attorneys say that after the classmate, Ryan Duffin, began to question her about the assault, Jackie invented the alleged ringleader of the attack, "Haven Monahan."

Charlottesville police later found that no one with that name had ever been a student of the university.

In her lawsuit, Eramo says she was depicted as a villain in the Rolling Stone article when in reality she agreed to protect the alleged victim's identity and supported the student during their office visits.

"In light of these undisputed facts, it is clear that Jackie's reluctance to participate in discovery is not based on concerns of privacy or about being exposed as an alleged victim of sexual assault," Eramo's attorneys say.

"Instead, it is about being exposed as a liar, and there is no blanket immunity from discovery simply because Jackie fears that her own momentous and injurious falsehoods will be revealed," the motion continues.

Judge Conrad said from the bench that Jackie's communications with Rolling Stone would be integral to Eramo's lawsuit, He said he was still considering whether to grant other requests filed by the associate dean's attorneys, seeking Jackie's communications with friends and family about the article.

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