Landmark magazine Rolling Stone has agreed to pay Phi Kappa Psi $1.65 million to settle a defamation lawsuit stemming from a story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia chapter that was later discredited.
The University of Virginia chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, which announced the settlement on Tuesday, June 13, was originally seeking $25 million in damages from Rolling Stone over the debunked story.
The story in question, a discredited 2014 story called ‘A Rape On Campus’, was proved to be false after a police investigation found no evidence to back up the magazine’s account of the woman identified in the story only as ‘Jackie.’
Phi Kappa Psi said in a statement that its members were happy to put the incident behind them.
The fraternity’s case had been scheduled to go to trial in October. The fraternity said it plans to donate “a significant portion” of the settlement to groups that provide sexual assault awareness education, prevention training and victim counseling services.
The fraternity claimed that the magazine knew that Jackie was not a reliable source and ignored red flags indicating that her story was flawed. The reporter did not verify the existence of the alleged ringleader of Jackie’s attack or contact others who could have debunked the story.
“Rolling Stone and Erdely had an agenda, and they were recklessly oblivious to the harm they would cause innocent victims in their ruthless pursuit of that agenda,” the fraternity’s lawsuit said.
Earlier this year, Rolling Stone settled another defamation lawsuit filed by university administrator Nicole Eramo after a jury awarded her $3 million.