Education

UVA Jackie Argues Against Testifying In Court, Says It Could ‘Re-Victimize’ Her

Lawyers for Jackie Coakley, the University of Virginia (UVA) student at the center of a massive gang rape hoax, are arguing that she shouldn’t have to testify in an ongoing lawsuit because it could “re-victimize” her by making her relive a sexual assault that probably never occurred.

Coakley claimed in a spectacular 2014 Rolling Stone cover story that she was violently gang raped at a UVA fraternity in 2012, and was then prevented from finding justice by friends and administrators who were generally callous towards her plight. The story provoked a wave of outrage at UVA, but subsequent investigations revealed Coakley’s story was full of holes. Instead of being gang-raped, evidence suggests Coakley concocted both the assault and a fake boyfriend in a bizarre attempt to win the affection of a boy she had a crush on. (RELATED: You Can Finally Read UVA Jackie’s Bizarre Catfishing Texts)

Rolling Stone ultimately retracted the story, while local police investigated Coakley’s allegations and concluded there was no evidence she had been raped.

Now, Rolling Stone is battling a $7.5 million lawsuit filed by UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo, who says the magazine defamed her by portraying her as indifferent towards Coakley’s plight. As part of the lawsuit, Eramo argues Coakley is a “serial liar” who Rolling Stone should have known to be unreliable, and to bolster the argument she wants to have Coakley give a deposition (sworn out-of-court testimony) for the case.

But Coakley’s lawyers are fighting back, saying any deposition would force Coakley to relive a rape that likely never happened.

“There is simply no need to re-victimize [Coakley] and open her up to irrelevant, harassing, painful questioning just to confirm what the parties already know and agree on,” her lawyers argue in recently-filed court documents. In another filing, the lawyers argue that “forcing her to revisit her sexual assault, and then the re-victimization that took place after the Rolling Stone article came out, will inevitably lead to a worsening of her symptoms and current mental health.”

Their opposition has led to a battle of competing court filings between the two camps, with Eramo’s lawyers saying Coakley is simply desperate to avoid testifying under oath.

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“[Coakley] and her attorneys have … never offered any affirmative evidence or facts whatsoever to substantiate the claim that Jackie was a victim of a sexual assault on or around September 28, 2012,” they say in their own filing. “Jackie’s attorneys repeatedly claim she is a victim, but have never even identified what supposed sexual assault they are referring to.”

Coakley has tried similar tactics in the past. Several months ago, she tried to argue that her status as a sexual assault victim should protect her from having to turn over text messages related to the case, but that argument was overruled.

Coakley’s strategy doesn’t seem any more likely to work this time around. A deposition is scheduled for April 5.

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