Federal Judge Tosses Fraternity Trio’s Defamation Suit Against Rolling Stone

A federal judge in New York on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, filed by three members of a Virginia fraternity over a 2014 story that claimed a student named "Jackie" was gang raped by members of the fraternity. The story was later discredited. File Photo by 360b/Shutterstock

NEW YORK, June 29 (UPI) — A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by three former members of a fraternity at the University of Virginia against Rolling Stone magazine, over a retracted story about sexual assault two years ago.

Judge P. Kevin Castel dismissed the trio’s suit Tuesday because, he said, the article never implicitly or explicitly identified them as having participated in the alleged gang rape of a student called Jackie.

One of the plaintiffs claimed that the fact his bedroom vicinity was mentioned in the article could have led acquaintances to surmise he was involved in the alleged rape — a claim the judge disagreed with.

“The article contains no details that plausibly distinguishes [one] bedroom from the several others on the second floor, even to those who knew extrinsic facts about the layout of the fraternity house,” Castel wrote in his ruling.

The article also cited one of the perpetrators rode his bike on campus and one was an avid swimmer, prompting the other two plaintiffs to join the suit.

The story was published in Rolling Stone in 2014, two years after the incident purportedly happened on the Virginia campus at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. However, the piece was later retracted after an investigation found the alleged rape never occurred.

Although this particular lawsuit was dismissed, two other legal proceedings stemming from the article are still moving through the courts — one filed by an associate dean at the university and one by the undergraduate members of the fraternity.


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