Rolling Stone paid investigative reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely more than $40,000 for her sensational (and now thoroughly discredited) 2014 story about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia.
The story, which is currently the subject of a $7.5 million lawsuit against Erdely and Rolling Stone, was the first in a series of seven articles Erdely was expected to contribute to the magazine under the terms of her $300,000 contract.
Details of the contract were revealed this week in court proceedings in the lawsuit brought by University of Virginia associate dean Nicole Eramo, who claims she suffered career and health damages as a result of her portrayal as the “chief villain” in Erdely’s November 2014 cover story, “A Rape on Campus.”
The story, which offered a lurid portrait of fraternity life on the UVA campus, told largely through the eyes of “Jackie,” a female student who described being brutally rape by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012. Social justice activists seized on the story as evidence of “rape culture” on campus.
Rolling Stone issued a full retraction of “A Rape on Campus” in April 2015, after the credibility of “Jackie’s” story withered under increased scrutiny. Erdely’s reporting was widely criticized after it was revealed she had neglected to verify a number of key details of “Jackie’s” story, such as the name (and existence) of her primary assailant, who was identified with the pseudonym “Drew.”
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