University alumni sue Rolling Stone, Erdely

Three University graduates file defamation suit, seek damages

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Phi Kappa Psi brothers are seeking legal action against Rolling Stone magazine, Sabrina Erdely and Wenner Media.

John Pappas | Cavalier Daily

Three University alumni filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Rolling Stone magazine, Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Wenner Media for defamation and negligence in regards to Erdely’s Nov. 19 article in Rolling Stone titled “A Rape On Campus,” alleging sexual assault by members of the University chapter of Phi Kappa Psi.

The three Class of 2013 graduates — George Elias, Stephen Hadford and Ross Fowler — are seeking a trial by jury against the defendants in New York and asking for $75,000 each in damages.

The suit claims the details presented in the article made possible the public identification of Elias, Hadford and Fowler as potential perpetrators of the alleged assault and that, following the release of the article, the three plaintiffs suffered public harassment.

According to the suit, “Family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and reporters easily matched [Elias] as one of the alleged attackers and, among other things, interrogated him, humiliated him, and scolded him [...] Hadford and Fowler suffered similar attacks … these attacks had a devastating effect on each of the Plaintiffs’ reputations.”

The suit adds that the details provided by the article — the details which it says led to such public “attacks” — are definitively false and run counter to publicly available information.

“These statements and accusations of the events that occurred at Phi Kappa Psi are categorically false and have been disproved by publicly available information,” the suit reads.

Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, who was also singled out by the piece, filed a separate defamation lawsuit last month against the same three defendants. Eramo is seeking $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

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