A judge ordered the former University of Virginia (UVA) student known as “Jackie” on Thursday to give a deposition in a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, The New York Times reported.
The deposition will be the first time Jackie has given a sworn statement about the allegations she made in the now-retracted 2014 article that detailed a gang rape on the UVA campus.
Last Thursday, Jackie’s lawyers argued that “she would be ‘re-traumatized’ if she is compelled to recount her ordeal in proceedings under oath,” and asked the judge to cancel the deposition originally scheduled for April 5, according to The Washington Post.
The lawsuit was brought by Nicole Eramo, UVA’s associate dean of students, against Rolling Stone, as well as Wenner Media and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the article’s author.
The story, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” depicts Eramo as indifferent to Jackie’s alleged gang rape at a campus fraternity party. The article claims that Eramo did nothing in response to Jackie’s allegations and told the student that UVA did not publish its sexual-assault data “because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”
Eramo is seeking nearly $8 million in damages — $7.5 million in compensatory damages for reputational harm and $350,000 in punitive damages. Eramo’s lawyers argue that this evidence against Jackie’s previous statements should be reason for her to be deposed.
But Jackie’s lawyers fought the deposition, describing their client as “a sexual assault victim who has suffered repeated revictimizations, including by Dean Eramo in this very lawsuit,” according to court documents cited by The Washington Post.
“Forcing her to revisit her sexual assault, and then the re-victimization that took place after the Rolling Stone article came out, will inevitably lead to a worsening of her symptoms and current mental health,” the documents read.
Much — if not all — of the Rolling Stone story, which the magazine published in April 2015, has since been disproved by media reports, a police investigation, and a report by Columbia’s journalism school.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that the story that Jackie told her friends, or the very different story she told Rolling Stone, actually transpired,” Eramo’s lawyers write in court documents cited by The Washington Post. “Instead, it appears that Jackie fabricated her perpetrator and the details of the alleged assault.”
Tuesday’s ruling, by Chief Judge Glen Conrad of the Western District of Virginia, orders that Jackie be available for questioning by Rolling Stone and Eramo’s lawyers. Recordings and transcripts of the deposition will reportedly be confidential.