A federal judge has officially ordered Jackie Coakley, the student at the center of 2014’s infamous gang rape hoax at the University of Virgina, to turn over all of her communications with Rolling Stone.
But unless somebody leaks them, the communications will remain secret from the public.
In late 2014, Rolling Stone published the Sabrina Erdely article “A Rape on Campus,” which recounted in gruesome detail Coakley’s alleged gang rape by several fraternity members, and a subsequent effort by Coakley’s friends and UVA administrators to sweep the whole thing under the rug. The story provoked a wave of outrage, until follow-up reporting revealed that Coakley’s tale appeared to have been a bizarre hoax intended to win the affections of a student she had a crush on. An investigative report by the Columbia School of Journalism excoriated Rolling Stone for lax editorial practices that allowed the deeply flawed story to be published.
Rolling Stone is currently being sued for $7.5 million by UVA dean Nicole Eramo, who says “A Rape on Campus” defamed her by portraying her as callously handling Coakley’s supposed gang rape. As part of her lawsuit, Eramo has argued that Coakley was a serial liar whom Erdely and Rolling Stone failed to properly vet because they wanted to push her spectacular story. To back up her claims, Eramo has repeatedly sought to have Coakley turn over any communications she made regarding her alleged rape.
Coakley’s lawyers resisted the request, arguing that her communications were protected as an alleged rape victim, blocked by patient-counselor privilege, or were simply irrelevant to a lawsuit against Rolling Stone.
But according to The Daily Progress, U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad said those arguments were without merit. Coakley’s patient-counselor privilege with Eramo was waived when she turned over those communications to Rolling Stone, her protection as an alleged rape victim doesn’t apply to a defamation case, and her communications are highly relevant to the case at hand. As a result, he’s ordered Coakley to produce all of her communications with Eramo, Rolling Stone, Erdely, and UVA concerning her alleged sexual assault. Conrad also ordered Jackie to turn over communications involving “Haven Monahan,” a person Eramo argues was fabricated by Coakley as part of her hoax.
But that doesn’t mean the general public will be able to see how Coakley fooled Rolling Stone anytime soon. Conrad ordered that all of her communications be marked as confidential, meaning it will be illegal to leak them to the public.
One of Eramo’s attorneys praised the decision.
“Jackie was the primary source for Rolling Stone’s false and defamatory article,” Andy Phillips told The Daily Progress. “It appears that Jackie fabricated the account of the sexual assault portrayed in Rolling Stone and that Rolling Stone knew she was an unreliable source. We look forward to moving forward with discovery and taking this case to trial.”
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