Rolling Stone Defeats Defamation Lawsuit From Virginia Fraternity Brothers

While the later-debunked article about a fraternity gang rape may have made Phi Kappa Psi members look bad, it doesn't amount to defamation.
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Rolling Stone is facing one less lawsuit over its since-retracted story about a woman's alleged rape at a University of Virginia fraternity after a New York federal judge granted a motion to dismiss the suit. 

Three members of Phi Kappa Psi sued the magazine in July, claiming its infamous story "A Rape on Campus" implicates them in a crime they didn't commit.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel on Tuesday granted the magazine's motion to dismiss, finding "the article's details about the attackers are too vague and remote from the plaintiffs' circumstances to be 'of and concerning' them."

Castel's opinion recounts the gory details of the alleged gang rape and stipulates that "the parties do not dispute that the rape depicted in the article did not occur, and was the fictitious creation of 'Jackie,' the article's principal source.

"While the statements may portray Phi Kappa Psi in a negative light, they do not expressly or impliedly state that the fraternity required all initiates to participate in a rape, or impute any knowledge of such a requirement to the plaintiffs," Castel writes. "They therefore fail to state a claim of small-group defamation."

Rolling Stone is still facing a $25 million defamation suit from the Virginia Alpha chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, which alleges the entire organization was implicated in the article. The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 23 in Virginia state court. 

The university's associate dean Nicole Eramo also has an active defamation lawsuit against the magazine in Virginia federal court. "Jackie" was deposed in April as part of that lawsuit.