Rolling Stone Editor Resigns Amid Controversial Rape Story Lawsuit

July 30, 2015  |  

After almost 20 years, the managing editor of Rolling Stone has resigned amidst the controversial retraction of a rape story involving three students at the University of Virginia. The graduates of the university filed a defamation suit against the magazine with editor Will Dana being in charge of later pulling the story completely.

The New Times reported that spokesman Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone publisher Wenner Media announced Dana’s soon departure on August 7. Wenner gave no reason for his decision, but many speculate the suit has a lot to do with the editor stepping down.

“After 19 years at Rolling Stone, I have decided that it is time to move on. It has been a great ride and I have enjoyed it even more than I imagined I would. I am as excited to see where the magazine goes next as I was in the summer of 1978 when I bough my first issue,” said Dana in statement.

The lawsuit claim was filed by three men and names Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and journalist Sabrina Ruden Erdely who wrote the article titled “A Rape on Campus.” The graduates claim they have faced “emotional turmoil” and could not focus on work or school after the story was published.

The story was originally published in November 2014 and reported details of an alleged gang rape that a freshman student experienced in 2012 at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.  No legal charges were ever made against the three students who graduated in 2013.  Now, the plaintiffs seek damages for emotional distress and defamation of character.

One of the plaintiffs lived in the room the alleged rape was said to have taken place and while his name was not mentioned in the article many family and friends easily made the connection.

“Upon release of the article, family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers and reporters easily matched Plaintiff as one of the alleged attackers and, among other things, interrogated him, humiliated him, and scolded him,” states the lawsuit.

The story started a national debate on the subject of rape at American universities, but after holes in the story were brought to light, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism did a full analysis of the article and found gaps at all levels of reporting. Ederly’s story had been based solely on one student’s voice. Ederly apologized as Rolling Stone followed recommendations made by the graduate program.

The conversation of rape and when to speak up is one that has been had often across social media and college campuses alike since the Bill Cosby allegations have taken over headlines. More and more people are arguing over what women can call rape and how long she (or he) has to speak up, which makes the circumstances of this case all the more disturbing.

While the Rolling Stone article was found to be pretty unsubstantial due to a lack of reporting does this mean media outlets will be even more cautious of telling rape stories that have no convictions? And should this be the case?




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