Despite Overwhelming Evidence, UVA Jackie Is Still Defending Her Gang Rape Story

Blake Neff | Reporter

Jackie Coakley, the woman behind a bogus gang rape allegation at the University of Virginia (UVA), says she was heavily pressured by Rolling Stone to have her story published. She also still stands behind her claim to have been date-raped, despite overwhelming evidence that it is not true.

Coakley made her claims in a videotaped deposition, which was shown Monday as part of a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone. The magazine is being sued by Nicole Eramo, a UVA dean who says the magazine defamed her by portraying her as callously indifferent to women like Coakley who claimed to have been sexually assaulted.

Coakley infamously claimed in an article by Sabrina Erdely, “A Rape on Campus,” that she was gang-raped by a group of seven men at a fraternity party, and then struggled to obtain justice because UVA officials and her own friends were eager to brush the event under the rug. The article caused a storm of outrage until follow-up investigations discovered there was no truth to Coakley’s claims. Instead, her rape story was apparently concocted as part of a bizarre scheme to win the affections of a boy she had a crush on.

But despite these revelations, Coakley still wouldn’t back away from her gang rape claim. (RELATED: UVA Jackie Invented Rumor Her Friend Had Syphilis)

“I stand by the account I gave to Rolling Stone. I believed it to be true at the time,” she said during the deposition, which was recorded last April. Coakley defended flaws in her story by saying her memory was “foggy” due to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Coakley also said she was pressured to tell her story by an aggressive Erdely, who took advantage of her own ignorance. She initially expected her story to just be a small part of a larger story Erdely was working on, and said she was “scared and overwhelmed” to discover Erdely had made the story all about her.

“I was 20 years old and had no idea there was an off-the-record or an on-the-record,” Coakley said. “I was naive.”

When Coakley expressed her concerns to Erdely through a friend a few weeks before publication, Erdely bluntly replied in a text message that it was too late and there was “no pulling the plug.”

“I felt like I was getting a lot of pressure from a lot of people to do things I didn’t want do,” Coakley said in the deposition.

In her own trial testimony, Erdely claimed that she didn’t force Coakley to be in the story, and argued that her “pulling the plug” remark was about the UVA story more generally. If Coakley had insisted on not being in the piece, she said, she would have used a different student’s story as the centerpiece.

The matter of whether Erdely forced Coakley to proceed despite her own doubts is critical to the lawsuit. To win against Rolling Stone, Eramo must show that the magazine acted with “actual malice” by publishing allegations against her that it either knew were false, or should have known if not for its own egregious negligence.

Coakley isn’t testifying in-person at the trial.

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Tags : jackie coakley nicole eramo rolling stone sabrina erdely university of virginia
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