UVA Rape Case Figures Hire Lawyers; Is Rolling Stone Vulnerable?


As criticism mounts over Rolling Stone's sensational story of sexual assault at the University of Virginia, a UVA associate dean, a student featured in the article and others associated with the controversy are lawyering up, reports the National Law Journal. Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, who heads UVA's Sexual Misconduct Board, has hired lawyer Thomas Clare of Alexandria, Va. Clare said the article painted a false portrait of how Eramo responded to students who came to her with sexual assault complaints. “The story casts her performance and her compassion and her response to the allegations [of sexual assault] in a very negative light and in a way that is damaging to her reputation,” he said.

The woman who says she was gang raped, Jackie, has hired a lawyer and members of fraternity Phi Kappa Psi have sought legal advice from the chapter adviser, a lawyer. Libel lawyers say Rolling Stone likely is seeking legal advice as it investigates challenges to parts of the article. Managing editor Will Dana said the magazine erred in honoring Jackie's request not to contact her alleged attackers. “Normally you're very, very concerned about whether you can establish the requisite fault. This is the rare case where it's being handed to you on a silver platter,” said libel expert Rodney Smolla of the University of Georgia. “That makes it more appealing from the plaintiffs' perspective—that normally harder issue is not hard in this case.”

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