magazine is facing a defamation suit — again — as a federal appeals court ruled that three former University of Virginia students have a plausible case that they were personally implicated in a now-retracted story about an alleged gang rape.
The lawsuit began more than two years ago but was dismissed by a district court. Now the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said the case should move forward, at least in part.
The case centers on an infamous November 2014 article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about a student identified as “Jackie” who said she was gang-raped at a fraternity party. There were major inconsistencies in the story, and Rolling Stone retracted the piece, acknowledging it had not adequately worked to verify the account.
The three members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity who sued for defamation were not identified by name. But they said the article amounted to “small group defamation” against every then-member of the fraternity — and that people who knew them personally could use clues in the piece to conclude it was about them individually.
A district court was not persuaded and dismissed the case. The three…