Jackie Coakley, the UVA student at the center of Rolling Stone’s bogus gang rape story from 2014, is going to be forced to turn over her email and phone records as part of an ongoing lawsuit.
Rolling Stone’s article “A Rape on Campus” concerned the spectacular tale of “Jackie,” a UVA student who was supposedly attacked and gang-raped as part of an initiation ritual at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and then had her quest for justice blocked by indifferent and skeptical administrators. But after several weeks of intense outrage on UVA’s campus, follow-up research revealed that Coakley had basically fabricated the story, possibly as part of a bizarre catfishing scheme intended to win romantic attention from a male student.
Now, Rolling Stone is being sued by Nicole Eramo, a UVA associate dean who says Rolling Stone defamed her by casting her as one of the story’s chief villains. Eramo is seeking $7.5 million in damages. As part of the lawsuit, Eramo’s lawyers have sought to make Coakley turn over her personal communications, alleging that Coakley is a “serial liar” whom Rolling Stone should not have trusted.
Until now, Coakley had refused to turn over her email and phone records, with her lawyer claiming their release would violate Coakley’s “privacy and dignity” and cause her “extreme harm.” Coakley has also argued that because she claims to be a victim of rape that she should be protected from such an intrusive request.
But U.S. District Court judge Glen Conrad is unconvinced. During a Tuesday court hearing, The Washington Post says, he said that he will make Coakley turn over all communications she had with UVA officials, Rolling Stone, or “A Rape on Campus” author Sabrina Erdely.
Eramo’s lawyers have also requested Coakley’s communications with friends and family members regarding the article, but Conrad said he is undecided about making her turn over those.
The contents of Coakley’s communications will likely be extremely important to the final verdict against Rolling Stone. Strong inconsistencies in her statements could bolster Eramo’s claim that Coakley was an unreliable source Rolling Stone should have known not to trust. Her communications could also disprove Rolling Stone’s claim that Coakley never mentioned the name Haven Monahan, a critical figure in her alleged sexual assault who turned out to be a non-existent person.
Besides Eramo’s lawsuit, Rolling Stone is also fending off two other suits, one by three individual members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and one by the fraternity itself. The latter lawsuit is seeking a staggering $25 million in damages.
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