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Video of Rolling Stone reporter discussing errors debated

October 20, 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A federal judge was considering on Wednesday whether the jury in a University of Virginia administrator’s defamation suit against Rolling Stone should be able to watch a video in which the reporter who wrote a now-discredited story about a gang rape on campus discusses reporting mistakes she made while in college.

Attorneys for former Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo wanted to admit as evidence a video of Sabrina Rubin Erdely discussing an article about folk singer Michelle Shocked that earned her a college journalism award from Rolling Stone.

In the video, Erdely acknowledged that “just about everything in the story was wrong.” Erdely said she missed most of the press conference where Shocked spoke and then “borrowed whatever facts” she could find in media publications at the time to write the article.

An attorney for Eramo said it’s “the same kind of attribution problems” that occurred in the 2014 story “A Rape on Campus.”

The judge said he will rule on the issue Thursday.

Eramo took the stand for the second day in the $7.85 million defamation trial. Eramo says the article portrayed her as indifferent to the assault of the woman identified only as “Jackie” and the magazine’s apologies for its journalistic failures didn’t go far enough.

Elizabeth McNamara, an attorney for Rolling Stone, noted that the magazine issued an apology in December 2014 and another one the following April when it officially retracted the article. She said that apology was specifically extended to school administrators.

Eramo told the courtroom she took issue with those apologies. Rolling Stone has said that while Jackie’s story may not have held up to scrutiny, it believes its reporting about Eramo was fair and accurate.

“This doesn’t seem like a sincere apology to me given that I had been told over and over again by the magazine that it stands by its statements with regards to me,” Eramo said.

WVIR-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2ekGC1v) that McNamara asked Eramo why she and the university didn’t investigate multiple rape allegations from Jackie.

Eramo said it was best for police to investigate, but Jackie wasn’t cooperating with investigators.

Erdely took the stand for the first time Wednesday. Her testimony was expected to continue through Thursday.

Her 2014 story described Jackie’s account of being raped by seven men at a fraternity house in 2012. A police investigation found no evidence to back up claims.

The trial, which began Monday, is expected to last about 12 days.


Associated Press Writer Heidi Brown in Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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