Jury unanimously sides with Eramo in Rolling Stone defamation case

Erdeley, Wenner Media, Rolling Stone found liable for “actual malice” on several counts

nseramotrialcourtesykaylaeanes

Eramo exits the courthouse after the jury finds in her favor.

Courtesy Kayla Eanes

A jury ruled in favor of former Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo Friday, finding Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone and Wenner Media, Inc. had acted in actual malice in the writing and publishing of “A Rape on Campus.”

Eramo originally filed a $7.85 million defamation lawsuit in May 2015. The jury will consider damages the defendants must pay to Eramo in Monday at 8 a.m.

The trial — which began Oct. 17 — included 12 in-person testimonies, including those of Eramo and Erdely, and six video depositions, including Jackie’s. Five days of the trial included testimony from Erdely.

The jury found Erdely liable for actual malice on many accounts, including her statements in the article that Eramo had a “nonreaction” to and “discouraged” Jackie from sharing her story.

Erdely was not found to have acted with actual malice for the statement that Eramo told Jackie no one wants to send their daughter to “the rape school.”

Rolling Stone and Wenner Media, Inc. were found to have republished the story on Dec. 5, 2014, when an editor’s note was attached to the online version of the article. Both were then found to have actual malice for the republishing of the statements regarding Eramo’s alleged discouraging of Jackie, “nonreaction” to her story and her calling the University “the rape school.”

An emotional Eramo was comforted by her counsel as the verdict was read.

As Eramo and her legal team exited the courthouse, her attorney Libby Locke said the jury substantiated what she has been saying all along — that Rolling Stone published a defamatory article.

“It feels very good to have a jury of Nicole’s peers vindicate what we have known from day one,” Locke said.

In regards to the damages phase of the trial, Locke said her team “has a lot of work to do.”

“We have a case to put on,” Locke said. “It’s going to be a very gut wrenching phase of the trial."

In a statement following the verdict, Rolling Stone apologized for its article.

“In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor, we overlooked reporting paths and made journalistic mistakes that we are committed to never making again,” the statement read. “We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms. Eramo. It is our deep hope that our failings do not deflect from the pervasive issues discussed in the piece, and that reporting on sexual assault cases ultimately results in campus policies that better protect our students.”

Erdely was seen crying as she and her legal team exited from the back of the courthouse.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Erdely, Rolling Stone and Wenner Media were found liable for — not guilty of — actual malice.  

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