Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rolling Stone Set to Face Suit from Fraternity over Rape Story Please Fill Me in Otherwise I'll Be Sad Okay?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rolling Stone Set to Face Suit from Fraternity over Rape Story Please Fill Me in Otherwise I'll Be Sad Okay?

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - The University of Virginia fraternity at the center of Rolling Stone's retracted article "A Rape on Campus" said on Monday it planned to sue the magazine for what it called "reckless" reporting that hurt its reputation.

Phi Kappa Psi's announcement came a day after a team from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism concluded in a report that the magazine had failed to follow basic journalistic safeguards.

The 9,000-word story described how a student identified by her real first name, Jackie, said she endured a gang rape at the fraternity in 2012. The allegations sent shockwaves through the campus about 70 miles from Richmond, Virginia's capital. After the article was published in November, students demonstrated at the Charlottesville, Va., campus and in front of the fraternity house, which was vandalized.

"Clearly, our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly, we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers," said fraternity president Stephen Scipione said in a statement.

Fraternity chapter spokesman Brian Ellis said he did not know what would be in the lawsuit, or when the fraternity's lawyers would file it. The fraternity said Monday that images of its house continue to be used by news organizations as a symbol of campus sexual assault.

Rolling Stone declined to comment. The magazine is owned by Jann Wenner, who founded it in 1967 primarily to cover music and culture. The privately held company, Wenner Media LLC, also publishes the magazines Us Weekly and Men's Journal.

To prevail in a defamation lawsuit, the fraternity would need first to show that the accusations against it in the story were false, and that it suffered damages as a result, such as fewer applicants or reduced donations from alumni, said Rebecca Tushnet, a Georgetown University law professor. Then it would need to show that Rolling Stone was negligent in its reporting. If a court finds that the fraternity was a public figure, it would have to prove that the magazine was reckless or acted with actual malice. …

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