Lawyers representing Rolling Stone filed a motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit over its fabricated 2014 University of Virginia gang rape story on Wednesday.
Three UVA graduates who were members of the fraternity at the center of the hoax, Phi Kappa Psi, sued the magazine over allegations that the false report led to them being identified online as the attackers. As a result, they claim their reputations “will forever be associated with the alleged gang rape.”
According to NBC News, Rolling Stone’s lawyers are trying to dismiss the suit because the article, “A Rape on Campus,” didn’t identify any perpetrators by name or physical description. The attorneys argue that membership in Phi Kappa Psi doesn’t amount to an identification of possible rapists.
“No reasonable reader would understand from the article and the proffered extrinsic evidence that plaintiffs are identified as the perpetrators,” the publication’s legal team stated in court documents.
The original story claimed a young co-ed who was only named as “Jackie” was gang raped by six men affiliated with Phi Kappa Psi in a initiation ritual. Subsequent investigations of the report found numerous holes in Jackie’s story and that there was hardly any evidence to back the alleged victim’s claims. (RELATED: Police Release Details Of UVA Rape Investigation; Claim Accuser Embellished Another Attack Story)
[dcquiz] Rolling Stone later retracted the article and the writer of the piece, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, has been in hiding since the article was largely discredited in December 2014. (RELATED: Rolling Stone Reporter Cried Over False Gang-Rape Article, But For Selfish Reasons)
If the magazine wins its motion to dismiss, it still has to deal with two other lawsuits stemming from the hoax. Phi Kappa Psi has filed a lawsuit for $25 million. A UVA dean who was portrayed negatively in the article is suing for $7.8 million.