Rolling Stone magazine prevailed in a New York federal court on Tuesday when a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by three former University of Virginia fraternity members over the infamous, since-discredited story about an alleged rape.
The plaintiffs, George Elias IV, Ross Fowler and Stephen Hadford, claimed that the story, “A Rape on Campus,” implicated them in a crime they did not commit. They were all previously members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and graduated from the Charlottesville, Virginia, university in 2013.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel granted a motion to dismiss the suit because the “defamation claims are directed toward a report about events that simply did not happen.”
The judge went on to say “the article’s details about the attackers are too vague and remote from the plaintiffs’ circumstances to be ‘of and concerning’ them.” None of the fraternity brothers were mentioned by name in the story.
Alan Frank, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients would review their legal options, including a possible appeal.
The article, “A Rape on Campus,” purported to depict the 2012 gang rape of a student identified as “Jackie” at the fraternity, but ended up bruising the magazine’s reputation when a number of inaccuracies and holes were discovered in the alleged victim’s account.
A subsequent police investigation discredited the report, and the magazine retracted the story after citing discrepancies in Jackie’s account and admitting that it never sought comment from the men accused of the alleged rape.