Rolling Stone’s deputy managing editor admitted on the stand Thursday that mistakes were made with the magazine’s since-discredited campus rape story, testifying that it “broke a lot of us.”
“Everyone was yelling at us and rightfully so,” Sean Woods said of the reaction to the story after gang rape claims made by a University of Virginia student, identified only as Jackie, were called into question.
“We needed people to know that we were addressing it as our story was falling apart.”
The editor testified at the defamation trial against Rolling Stone, which is being sued for $7.85 million by former UVA associate dean Nicole Eramo, who claims the magazine’s “A Rape on Campus” story painted her as being indifferent to Jackie’s allegations that she was gang raped at a fraternity.
“I’m sorry if I hurt you,” Woods told Eramo in court.
“If? Did you hurt her or not? …Do you think Ms. Eramo was hurt by this story?!” the former dean’s lawyer, Libby Locke, asked him angrily.
“I do. I think she is a public figure and subject to criticism,” Woods explained.
Earlier, he’d said that none of the journalists involved with the piece ever fully “recovered.”
He testified that he was in denial when he left a voicemail for Jackie after the story was retracted saying, “We are standing behind the story. We want to stand by the story.’”
“It’s like the stages of grief,” he told jurors.