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The defamation lawsuit filed against Rolling Stone magazine by three alumni of Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Virginia was tossed out by the judge on Tuesday.
The lawsuit stemmed from a now-defunct 2014 article published by Rolling Stone falsely accusing several Phi Kappa Psi members of a brutal gang rape in 2012. The men — George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler — lived in the fraternity house in 2012 and sought damages for “humiliation and emotional distress” as a result of the irresponsible reporting. While the men were not listed by name in the article, they argued that certain details in the piece made it seem as though the gang rape was a mandatory initiation ritual, therefore implying they had participated.
But U.S. District Judge Kevin P. Castel ruled that such a conclusion could not be drawn from the details in the article.
From Daily Mail:
Castel said claims that the article made it seem that rape was an initiation ritual had to be dismissed because interpreting comments in the article to mean ‘all aspiring members were required to commit an act of rape stretches the language beyond its plausible meaning and surrounding context.’
‘Viewed in the overall context of the article, the quotes cannot reasonably be construed to state or imply that the fraternity enforced a rape requirement as part of an initiation ritual or a pre-condition for membership,’ he said.
I’m in disbelief at the decision. The article falsely claimed that a vicious gang rape occurred while the men lived in the house. Mandatory initiation ritual or not, word that something like that went down without second thought in the same house the men lived in — and while they were living there — is damaging enough.
The men still have the option to appeal the decision. Two other lawsuits against Rolling Stone for the article are still in play: one from the Phi Kappa Psi chapter, another from a UVA staffer who was portrayed in the article as failing to do her job by not reporting the rape..
[via Daily Mail]
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