A federal judge has dealt a significant setback to a college administrator seeking damages from Rolling Stone in a defamation lawsuit stemming from a discredited story the magazine published in November 2014 about an alleged sexual assault at a University of Virginia fraternity.
The judge ruled former University of Virginia associate dean Nicole Eramo cannot present deposition testimony of Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the Rolling Stone story, after the magazine said Ms. Eramo’s team leaked video of the depositions to ABC’s “20/20,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A “20/20” segment about the case, featuring Ms. Eramo’s first interview since the scandal broke, is scheduled to air Friday, THR reported.
Further complicating Ms. Eramo’s legal strategy as the trial gets underway Monday is U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad’s determination that she must show that any defaming statements in the article were “of and concerning” her particularly, THR reported.
In a similar case, Rolling Stone enjoyed a victory in another federal courtroom in late June, when a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by three members of the university’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter, finding that the claims in the article they said were defamatory in nature did not meet the law’s definition, which requires an assertion of fact.
The fraternity members highlighted in particular quotes in the article which suggested there was a house policy requiring chapter pledges to rape a woman in order to earn membership.
“Viewed in the overall context of the article, the quotes cannot reasonably be construed to state or imply that the fraternity enforced a rape requirement as part of an initiation ritual or a pre-condition for membership,” Judge P. Kevin Castel said, The Associated Press reported.