Last week, a jury ruled that Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” contained actual malice against former Associate Dean Nicole Eramo. This brings near closure to a two-year ordeal for Eramo, who was met with messages such as “You let us down!” and “Stop protecting them” on the doors of Peabody Hall, among many other professional hardships. The jury’s decision validates what people who knew Eramo always believed: she did not deserve to be harmed by such a reckless disregard for the truth.
During the months leading up to the trial, Eramo’s supporters offered lengthy testaments of the work she has done on Grounds. In Nov. 2014, students and community supporters published a set of letters in The Cavalier Daily advocating for Eramo. A trauma counselor at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center spoke highly of her “superb” ability to help victims of sexual assault, both in her administrative duties and in the compassion she personally extends to survivors. Others offered very positive individual experiences with Eramo after dealing with rape and abuse crises, which starkly contrasted with Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s irresponsible — and legally defamatory — depiction of Eramo as cold-hearted and apathetic.
Eramo experienced a period of personal and professional isolation that nobody, much less someone who has devoted her career to helping survivors of sexual assault, deserves. Though Rolling Stone has already been tried and condemned in the court of public opinion, we are relieved to see a court of law come to the same conclusion. Looking forward, we hope this decision promotes responsible journalism, especially regarding sexual assault.