Attorneys make final pitch to jurors in Rolling Stone trial
Nov 02 2016 by Larry Hoffman
Sexton pointed out that on Monday, Judge Glen Conrad dismissed Eramo's claim that she had been defamed by the implications of the article.
"Rolling Stone's attorney John Cox countered that Erdely put a "tremendous amount of work" into the article, but was ultimately fooled by Jackie".
Making their final pitches to jurors, attorneys in the defamation trial against Rolling Stone magazine sparred in court Tuesday over whether the writer of a botched article about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia was the victim of an elaborate ruse or an agenda-driven reporter with little regard for the facts.
A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims and the magazine officially retracted the article in April 2015.
According to news reports, the judge however rejected Rolling Stone's bid to find as a matter of law that Eramo hadn't proven actual malice in the way it reported the story.
Over the course of the more than two-week trial, the 10 jurors have watched 11 hours of video testimony, heard from a dozen live witnesses and have examined almost 300 exhibits.
Sabrina Erdely, author of the 2014 "A Rape on Campus" article, was determined to tell a story of "institutional indifference", Clare said, and projected her own opinions about victims of campus sexual assault onto the alleged victims she interviewed-including Jackie.
Eramo also failed to provide evidence that Rolling Stone meant to defame her by implication, Conrad said.
University administrator Nicole Eramo is seeking $7.5 million from the magazine over its portrayal of her in the 2014 story "A Rape on Campus" about the sexual assault of the woman identified only as "Jackie".
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Scott Sexton, attorney for the defendants, addressed the jury with his closing arguments after lunch. Rolling Stone has agreed to pay all of Erdely's legal costs and any penalties that may be levied against her.
He also stressed that Erdely had no grudge against Eramo.
He laid some blame at the university's feet for failing to allow Eramo to speak with Erdely, which he suggested might have changed how she came across in the piece.
"She feels extraordinarily foolish for having fallen for this", Sexton said. For more than three hours, Sexton reminded the jury that from the perspective of Erdely, her editors, UVa administrators and even Jackie's friends, it appeared that Jackie's story was credible. "They don't know each other", he told the jury, going on to suggest that both women had Jackie's best interests at heart in their respective roles in this case.
"They pressed print", attorney Tom Clare said about Rolling Stone magazine.
Sexton emphasized certain provisions of the jury instructions - primarily definitions of actual malice and purposeful avoidance - to convince the jury Erdely was not writing the article with the intent to create a villain out of Eramo.
"I bet they wish it never happened ... but they're the ones that published this to a global audience", Clare said. Seven jurors will deliberate and three will be named as alternates.