On November 18, 2014, Rolling Stone published an article titled “A Rape on Campus”, which claimed that a group boys from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia had raped a woman identified only as “Jackie”. The article was eventually retracted by the publisher after Columbia Journalism School analyzed the story and concluded that the piece was largely erroneous and dubbed it “[the] year’s media fail sweepstakes”. Other journalists who investigated the article also cited huge inconsistencies and holes in the material. Rolling Stone Magazine has since issued a number of public apologies for the story.
Nicole Eramo, former UVA Dean, claims the article made her out to be public enemy No. 1. Business Insider writes, “The article claims Eramo did nothing in response to Jackie’s allegations and told the student that UVA did not publish its sexual assault data ‘because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.'”
Read on to learn more about Eramo’s involvement in the case, and where she is today.
1. Eramo Says the Story Jackie Told Her Is Different From What Was Printed in ‘Rolling Stone’
Jackie first told Eramo she’d been sexually assaulted in May 2013. However, Eramo says the story Jackie told her differed vastly from the one she read about in the article. She tells ABC, “My heart sunk. It was very different from what I knew of the story. So I was very confused at first, like, ‘Why wouldn’t she tell me?’ you know? ‘Why would she provide all this information and not provide it to me and let me help her?’ So that was kind of my first reaction.”
Howard Kurtz, the host of MediaBuzz, was interviewed by Fox News in 2014. The investigative reporter said, “I’ve done a lot of investigative reporting, and this story should never have been published. You cannot go with sensational charges like these based on a single source without corroborating evidence, without identifying anyone, and without making some kind of contact with the men who are being accused of this heinous crime.”
2. Eramo Has Received Emails From People “Hoping [She] Had a Daughter So That She Could Be Raped”
Rolling Stone did not interview Eramo prior to publishing their article– university privacy laws prohibited it. However, Eramo was cited 31 times in the piece, according to ABC News.
Eramo has said that the way she was portrayed in the article is extremely misleading, and has caused her great suffering. In response to initial reports that she was “indifferent” to Jackie’s rape claims, Eramo began receiving a slew of emails from people “expressing hope that [she] be killed or raped, or commenting that they hoped that [she] had a daughter so that she could be raped,” reports The Washington Post.
Eramo insists that Rolling Stone’s article paints her in a light that is far from the reality of the situation. “They made it look like I used the trust of young women to cover up rapes, and that was so far from anything I would ever do.” Libby Locke, one of Eramo lawyer’s, says, “It portrayed her as a callous, indifferent administrator who became a false friend of Jackie in order to coddle her into not reporting her sexual assault beyond the bounds of Dean Eramo’s office.”
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3. Police Found Nothing to Support the Rape Allegations
When The Washington Post conducted their own investigation of the alleged rape, they provided evidence that challenged Rolling Stone Magazine. The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism also investigated the case, and concluded that author Sabrina Rubin Erdely had made significant errors in her research. The review board wrote, “They involve basic, even routine journalistic practice – not special investigative effort. And if these reporting pathways had been followed, Rolling Stone very likely would have avoided trouble.”
When Charlottesville police investigated Jackie’s alleged rape, they found “no evidence of such an episode, nor of other sexual assaults alleged by Jackie in Erdely’s story”, writes the Washington Post.
Furthermore, Eramo says Rolling Stone wrote that she discouraged Jackie from reporting her alleged assault. The article says she that Jackie “suffered abuse” at her hands, and that Eramo did nothing in response to Jackie’s allegations.
Eramo says these statements are false, and that she arranged for Jackie to meet with detectives immediately– she says that police met with Jackie twice in the Spring under her encouragement and advisement. It was Jackie who reportedly chose not to continue with the criminal investigation.
4. Eramo’s $7.85 Million Defamation Civil Suit Begins Monday
According to Business Insider, Ermao is seeking nearly $8 million in damages– $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 for punitive damages.
Eramo’s $7.85 million civil suit is expected to begin Monday, according to ABC News. The news outlet reports that the UVA chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has also brought a defamation suit of $25 million against Rolling Stone, which is expected to go to trial in the fall of 2017.
5. She Is Still Employed by the University but Is No Longer the Associate Dean of Students
Today, Eramo is employed by UVA, but is no longer the associate dean of students. She tells ABC, “I now work in the vice president for student affairs’ office for … planning and other more administrative — more of an administrative role. So I don’t work with students as often … It’s been a very difficult adjustment to be in a different role and not, not have the privilege to be with students in that time of need.”
Tonight, Eramo will reveal to ABC News that her life has not been the same since Rolling Stone’s article was released almost two years ago. She tells the outlet, “I’m never going to be where I was on Nov. 18 of 2014. But I can hopefully recognize that person again.”