Rolling Stone has reached a confidential settlement with Nicole Eramo, a former University of Virginia associate dean who had sued the magazine alleging that it defamed her in a 2014 story about an alleged gang rape on campus, according to lawyers for both parties.
The settlement brings an end to a lawsuit that had roiled the U-Va. community with a case study in the practice and ethics of journalism.
“We are delighted that this dispute is now behind us, as it allows Nicole to move on and focus on doing what she does best, which is supporting victims of sexual assault,” said Libby Locke, a lawyer for Eramo, in a statement Tuesday.
Rolling Stone called the settlement an “amicable resolution.”
The magazine’s November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus,” recounted the shocking story of a young woman’s gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity house — a story that was discredited after serious flaws were revealed.
An investigation by The Washington Post showed that aspects of the account were not true. For example, no one in Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity in question, matched the name or description that the young woman — known as Jackie — gave for the person who allegedly was the ringleader in her 2012 assault.
A person whom Jackie had described to friends at the time as her assailant was complete fiction, according to Eramo’s attorneys, and The Post found that a photo she shared of her alleged attacker was actually of someone she knew from high school, who attended a different university out of state.
The magazine soon acknowledged that it had lost faith in its main source for the story and — after a police investigation and a report by the Columbia University School of Journalism found that aspects of the account were false — ultimately retracted the article.
In a trial that began in October 2016, Eramo’s lawyers argued that the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had arrived on campus determined to write a story about a university’s callousness to the problem of sexual assault. She did not let facts get in the way of the story, they argued, and she wrongly turned Eramo into the face of institutional indifference.
Eramo testified that she faced threats, lost professional credibility and lost her ability to work as an advocate for sexual-assault prevention.