Rolling Stone Says It Trusted Jackie Because Of ‘Sense’ She Was Honest

Blake Neff | Reporter

A fact-checker for Rolling Stone attributed the magazine’s disastrous decision to trust Jackie Coakley to a “sense” that she was telling the truth.

This sense was so strong, she said, that they collectively decided to publish Coakley’s bogus account of a gang-rape at the University of Virginia (UVA) without interviewing any other supposed witnesses.

In November 2014, Rolling Stone published “A Rape on Campus,” a story by reporter Sabrina Erdely that recounted Coakley’s spectacular claim to have been raped by seven men at a fraternity party in 2012. The article sparked a wave of outrage, but follow-up reporting quickly exposed huge holes in Coakley’s story, and the article was eventually retracted. Now, Rolling Stone is fighting a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit from UVA dean Nicole Eramo, who claims the article falsely portrayed her as indifferent to the plight of alleged rape victims.

Tuesday, as part of that lawsuit, Rolling Stone fact-checker Elisabeth Garber-Paul testified that she, Erdely, and editor Sean Woods trusted Coakley so completely that they didn’t even bother trying to speak to several friends whom Coakley claimed were present the night she was raped.

Garber-Paul indicated that her trust in Coakley was rooted in the “great detail” of her story, and her apparent lack of any ulterior motive. Beyond that, though, Garber-Paul also suggested she just had a “sense” Coakley was being honest. (RELATED: UVA Jackie Is STILL Insisting She Was Gang-Raped)

“I had a sense she was reliving the worst moment of her life,” she said, according to local WVIR-TV.

Unfortunately for Rolling Stone, that “sense” proved to be disastrously wrong. Had the magazine bothered to reach out to Coakley’s friends, it would have quickly learned that she was known for spinning fantastic lies.

In addition to Garber-Paul, Tuesday’s trial proceedings also included a taped deposition by Kathryn Hendley, a former friend of Coakley who was called “Cindy” in Rolling Stone’s article. Despite knowing Hendley’s identity, Rolling Stone never attempted to contact her prior to the article’s publication, even though the article described her extremely negatively as a woman worried that reporting a friend’s gang-rape would keep her from being invited to parties.

In her deposition, Hendley disputed several quotes attributed to her in the article, and characterized Coakley as a serial liar who created stories out of whole cloth.

“Jackie had a tendency to fabricate things and it was shocking to see it in a large scale news magazine like this,” she said. She pointed to the example of Haven Monahan, a boy Coakley claimed to have met at a swimming pool she worked at. While Coakley produced photos of Monahan and shared his phone number with friends, Hendley eventually realized that he didn’t actually exist. Instead, Monahan appears to have been concocted by Coakley in a strange scheme to win the affections of Ryan Duffin, another UVA student.

In her deposition, Hendley said that she eventually stopped being friends with Coakley in 2013 because she was making up rumors and then spreading them. Earlier in the trial, it was revealed that one of those false rumors was that Hendley had contracted syphilis.

The trial is expected to wrap up within the next few days. After that the verdict will be in the hands of a seven-person jury.

Send tips to blake@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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