CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- Rolling Stone is fighting back against a lawsuit filed by three former members of the University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi.
The fraternity was depicted as the scene of an alleged assault in the discredited article "A Rape on Campus," which was published by the magazine last November.
In a proposed motion to dismiss the suit, lawyers for Rolling Stone say "no reasonable reader" would identify three specific men as the attackers described in article.
"Nowhere does the Article identify the purported rapists by name or any other specific information," said attorney Elizabeth McNamara in her letter to the judge.
In the article, the victim says, while at Phi Kappa Psi, she was taken upstairs by one of her attackers, and then ushered into a bedroom where the alleged gang rape happened. One of the fraternity members suing the magazine claims the victim describes his room, which lawyers say identifies him.
Another key issue in the filing is the age of the fraternity members. The article suggests the alleged attackers graduated in 2013 or 2014. All three plaintiffs graduated from UVa in 2013.
However, the magazine's attorneys claim those statements are simply too vague to identify three specific people.
"Nobody was named in the article, and many people are in the fraternity, and people even that weren't in the fraternity could have been at that fraternity house. It will be very hard for these three to show that they were the ones Rolling Stone was referring to," said legal analyst Scott Goodman. "Those were the things the courts will look for to determine whether or not these three people were defamed, embarrassed or suffered a loss."
Lawyers for the three former frat brothers argue their reputations were damaged by the article.
During the alleged assault, the victim heard her attackers tell a pledge "we all had to do it, so you do too" suggesting rape was an ritual practiced at Phi Kappa Psi. Goodman says that claim defames the entire fraternity, not the specific plaintiffs.
"The article referred to the fraternity as having a gang initiation right, so to speak, that involved gang rape, but it did not accuse these three individuals to have engaged in that," Goodman said.
A hearing is set for Nov. 13 on the proposal to dismiss the suit.