Rolling Stone Writer Testifies In Trial Arising From UVA Rape Story
Oct 20 2016 by Larry Hoffman
Erdely - who began writing for Rolling Stone in 2008 - said in her testimony she considers herself to be an experienced journalist, and then underwent questioning by the prosecution for roughly an hour.
Rolling Stone ultimately retracted the 2014 story after other media outlets pointed out troubling issues with the story. Eramo is suing Rolling Stone for nearly $8 million, claiming the article painted her as a "villain".
Sabrina Erdely, the author of a retracted article detailing an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity party, was on the stand all morning testifying.
Erdely did say she regretted not contacting Jackie's friends, who were quoted in article under pseudonyms.
A federal judge is considering whether the jury in the defamation trial against Rolling Stone should be able to watch a video of the reporter discussing reporting mistakes she made while in college.
Eramo said she reached out to the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity where Jackie alleged her rape occurred but that "no one came forward" and the brothers in the house were "unable to validate the allegation from the chapter's side". Rolling Stone has said that while Jackie's story may not have held up to scrutiny, it believes it's reporting about Eramo was fair and accurate.
Eramo said it was best for police to investigate, but Jackie wasn't cooperating with investigators. It was the first time that any portion of the deposition from the woman identified in the article only as "Jackie" has been publicly revealed. Jackie told Eramo that she was forced to perform oral sex on several men, while Jackie told Rolling Stone she was gang raped.
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"A multi-year review of sexual violence at UVA by the U.S. Department of Education found Dean Eramo to have specifically contributed to the University's hostile environment for sexual assault victims- an assertion much more critical of Eramo than any statement from the Article".
"I was portrayed as someone that gained the trust of young women in order to get them to not report their rapes", said Eramo.
"Jackie", the women whose horrifying account was the foundation of the article, is not expected to testify in person.
Rolling Stone's lawyers also asked Eramo her salary - $110,000 - and highlighted that despite the negative criticism Eramo may have received, she is still employed with UVA and has since received a raise.
Eramo's attorney then asked about Erdely's interview with Jackie's roommate, Rachel Soltis, who told the author the rape happened Jackie's second year and that it was "by I think six guys". In that voicemail, Erdely urged Jackie not to go to police if she had any doubts about her story. Erdely "disagreed with the characterization" a couple of times and unequivocally stated that she never sought out to find "institutional indifference" to sexual assault when writing what is now her last published article. Erdely texts back to the friend, "I need to be clear".
Erdely said she took issue with Locke characterizing her articles as being about institutional indifference towards sexual assault, as she did not think institutional indifference meant the same thing to Locke as it did to her.