Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students at the University of Virginia (UVA), is fighting back against the negative image painted of her in the now-retracted Rolling Stone article, "A Rape on Campus," T. Rees Shapiro reports for the Washington Post.
Published last November, "A Rape on Campus" describes the account of an anonymous student, identified as Jackie, who claimed to have been gang-raped in her freshman year. Writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely details Jackie's frustration with the response to her allegations by UVA administrators—including Eramo, who is identified by name in the article.
However, in the weeks following publishing, the Washington Post and the New York Times uncovered serious discrepancies between the account given by Jackie and information that could be independently verified. Earlier this month, an independent review of the article found "systematic failing" in the article's publication process—prompting Rolling Stone to formally apologize and retract the article.
Read more: Rolling Stone officially retracts UVA gang-rape story following independent review
In the article, Erdely repeats Jackie's claim that Eramo did nothing to help after meeting with Jackie and hearing her story. But an investigation by the Charlottesville police found that Eramo quickly contacted the police after meeting with Jackie and made arrangements for Jackie to meet with local detectives. In fact, at a press conference in March, police said it was Jackie herself who would not cooperate with them.
Even so, Eramo says the damage to her reputation persists in a letter to Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, which the Washington Post received and published Wednesday.
"Using me as the personification of a heartless administration, the Rolling Stone article attacked my life's work," said Eramo. She adds that the article "damaged [her] reputation and falsely portrayed the work to which [she has] dedicated [her] life."
Since "A Rape on Campus" was published, Eramo says she has received rape and death threats and been met by protestors outside her office. She also says she was removed from the cases of several survivors on campus while the university investigated the allegations, "forcing [the students] to 'start over' with someone else."
Eramo has hired legal counsel from Clare Locke, a law firm specializing in defamation, but has not yet announced any action against Rolling Stone.
Rolling Stone released a statement Wednesday afternoon apologizing for "any pain we caused Dean Nicole Eramo and others affected by this story" (Shapiro, Washington Post, 4/22; Kludt, CNN Money, 4/22; Schiavenza, The Atlantic, 4/23; Rolling Stone release, 4/5).
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