Erdely takes the stand in defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Sabrina Erdely, the woman who wrote the Rolling Stone article "A Rape on Campus," has been called to testify in a defamation lawsuit against the magazine.

She began her testimony Wednesday evening, after the jury finishes seeing a video deposition of a former University of Virginia Student and Sexual Assault Advocate, Emily Renda.

In the video, Renda talked about her interactions with the woman known only as "Jackie," who claimed she was gang raped at a fraternity party, and former UVA Dean Nicole Eramo.

Renda says Jackie was referred to her by Eramo and she was the one who referred Jackie to Rolling Stone.

She also described her interactions with Erdely in the summer and fall of 2014.

In her deposition, Renda stated she noted several red flags with Erdely, including her use of the term"rape culture" and her intentions to name the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, in her article.

Renda and the UVA administration were worried that would hurt the credibility of potential victims who might come forward after the article was published.

Once the article was published in November of 2014, Renda said she was frustrated with the way she says Erdely left out key details about the people in her story, saying it undermined a lot of advocacy work at UVA.

"Sabrina was introduced to these people under the guise that they were advocates," said Renda. "But they were not painted as advocates. Just students."

Eramo, who is suing Rolling Stone for millions of dollars claiming defamation, was also back on the stand Wednesday morning.

This was the second day she has been answering questions about her relationship with Jackie.

Eramo talked about what she did with the allegations, including UVA notifying Phi Psi in the fall of 2014 about them.

Initially, Jackie did not identify which fraternity was the one where she was allegedly attacked, but she eventually did identify Phi Psi in the spring of 2014, more than a year after she first told Eramo she was the victim of a sexual assault.

At that time, Eramo testified that she knew Jackie had been assaulted by several men at Phi Psi, the assault had involved sex, and there were possibly two more victims.

However, she said it wasn't until the fall of 2014 that UVA Dean of Students Allen Groves notified the national Phi Kappa Psi headquarters about the allegations.

Eramo says she met with representatives of the UVA frat house in September of 2014, who said at that time the claims could not be validated.

Also around this time, the Charlottesville Police Department investigation into the allegations was suspended because Jackie said she didn't want to be involved, and the UVA administration focused on getting Jackie to talk to law enforcement.

The university did not investigate further.

Attorneys for Rolling Stone say Eramo was having regrets by November of 2014, showing a text message Eramo sent to Emily Renda.

In the message, Eramo wrote, "I should have conducted an investigation due to the public safety, despite the wishes of the survivor."

According to Rolling Stone's attorneys, a 2011 Title IX policy that UVA was operating under said allegations involving more than one perpetrator need to be investigated by a university, but Eramo and UVA did not do that.

In court on Wednesday, Eramo countered.

"We were taking steps to investigate as best we could with someone who did not want to cooperate with an investigation," she testified.

Attorneys also asked why no alert was issued, warning students about the situation at Phi Psi despite the allegations.

On Tuesday, Eramo told the jury that the decision was out of her hands, but that in this case, the incident was too far removed by the time the fraternity had been identified.

The trial is expected to continue through next week.



 
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