Erdely continues testimony in Rolling Stone trial

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- On Thursday, the trial of a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone entered its fourth day.

Sabrina Erdely, the author of a retracted article detailing an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity party, was on the stand all day testifying.

The attorney for former UVA Dean Nicole Eramo, who filed the lawsuit, was questioning Erdely in an effort to highlight problems with her reporting in the article "A Rape on Campus."

Evidence from emails and Erdely's notes show that a woman known only as Jackie, who claimed to be the victim of the assault, gave differing accounts of the attack at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

For example, the number of attackers varies from five to seven, and Jackie had reportedly first told friends she was forced to perform oral sex on her attackers before saying she had been gang raped.

Erdely testified the discrepancies didn't worry her.

"It had never concerned me that these details were inconsistent because I know this is how trauma victims behave," she said.

Erdely did say she regretted not contacting Jackie's friends, who were quoted in the article under pseudonyms.

Evidence was also presented showing that Jackie tried to pull out of the article when Erdely asked for the last name of her attacker.

When the judge asked Erdely if it was a mistake to rely on someone who was so emotionally fragile, she disagreed and became tearful.

"It was not a mistake to rely on someone who was emotionally fragile," she said. "It was a mistake to rely on someone who had the intent to deceive me."

The concept of victim choice, which means victims should not be pressured into pressing charges and going to the police, was also a subject addressed in Erdely's testimony. The policy means victims are offered other options for dealing with what happened to them.

Erdely says she thinks that's part of the problem at UVA, and victims may need strong encouragement to report to police.

"Victim choice is a well-meaning policy," she said. "[But] it actually seems to keep cases from going forward."

Another detail that came out in court Thursday morning was that Jackie reportedly told Erdely she had contracted syphilis from the attack.

However, Jackie never gave Erdely her medical records and that details was removed from the article at Jackie's request.

Eramo's attorney also displayed Rolling Stone's printed apology, in which the magazine said it was sorry for causing damage to UVA administrators.

When the attorney asked Erdely if she thought the article had damaged Eramo, she replied no.

"I stand by everything in the article that did not come from Jackie," said Erdely.



 
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