Media

Rolling Stone Reaches Final Settlement After Botched UVA Rape Story

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Joe Simonson Media Reporter
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Rolling Stone magazine, the legacy music and culture publication spanning 50 years, has reached its final settlement stemming from the infamous 2014 “A Rape on Campus” article that subsequently ended up mostly unsubstantiated.

The article centered on an alleged gang rape of a freshman girl named “Jackie” by fraternity brothers at the University of Virginia. The article was later retracted after multiple aspects of Jackie’s story appeared inconsistent or entirely contrived.

The magazine settled a defamation lawsuit Wednesday, brought by members of the Alpha chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the alleged rape took took place. The fraternity’s claims were initially dismissed by a federal judge, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case in September. Instead of going forward, the two parties agreed to a settlement.

Wednesday marked the third settlement in the aftermath of the article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The first settlement went to the University of Virginia’s former associate dean, Nicole Eramo, because Erdely wrote that Nicole “silenced” and “discouraged” Jackie from reporting her alleged rape. Eramo received $3 million in court, but eventually settled with the magazine after an appeal was granted.

Phi Kappa Psi’s Virginia chapter also received a $1.65 million settlement in June, a significant drop in the $25 million in damages that was initially sought.

The third and final settlement comes at an interesting time for Rolling Stone. On the same day the settlement was announced, the magazine disclosed that cofounder Jann Wenner was selling his stake to Jay Penske, the owner of Variety magazine and Penske Media. The deal reportedly valued Rolling Stone at $100 million.

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