Sunday, July 19, 2015

One of Those Cases Where You Wish Both Sides Could Lose

And with the help of plenty of lawyers, both sides probably can . . .

‘Rape Culture’ or ‘Libel Culture’? Lawyers for Rolling Stone Blame the Victim
Rolling Stone‘s bogus gang rape story, which falsely accused a University of Virginia fraternity of a crime that never happened, led UVA associate dean Nicole Eramo to sue the magazine for $7.5 million. Eramo said the story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely “portrayed [Eramo] as callous and indifferent to allegations of sexual assault on campus and made her the university’s ‘chief villain’ in a now-debunked article.”

The central problem of Rolling Stone‘s story was that it relied on the unverified claims of a UVA student identified as “Jackie” who, upon closer scrutiny, was revealed to be mentally unstable. “Jackie” had perpetrated a “catfishing” scheme, inventing a fake boyfriend she called “Haven Monahan,” in a misguided effort to attract the romantic interest of a male friend by making him jealous. To her friends, Jackie identified this fictional character, “Haven Monahan,” as the instigator of her gang-rape; she told a different version of the story to Erdely, who failed to interview Jackie’s friends; Jackie refused to cooperate with police investigating her claims; and police obtained evidence indicating there was no party at the fraternity house on the night in question, contradicting the story Jackie told Rolling Stone.

The startling recklessness of Erdely and her editors at Rolling Stone was the subject of a devastating critique by the Columbia Journalism Review, and it seemed Nicole Eramo’s defamation lawsuit would be a slam-dunk. However, in a motion to dismiss Eramo’s lawsuit, attorneys for Rolling Stone now place the blame on UVA officials who vouched for the veracity of Jackie’s gang-rape claims:
On Thursday, Rolling Stone magazine responded in court to a $7.5 million lawsuit filed by University of Virginia associate dean Nicole Eramo over a now-retracted article titled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA.” For perhaps the first time, there’s a suggestion that the University may have contributed to the faulty story. …
The plaintiff claims she was cast the “chief villain” of the story, doing nothing to help the victim and presiding over an academic institution that was “indifferent to rape on campus, and more concerned with protecting its reputation than with assisting victims of sexual assault.” . . .
Regardless of whether someone (Eramo?) at UVA sold Rolling Stone a bill of goods, Rolling Stone had an obligation to the law, to its shareholders, and if it wants to be taken seriously as a news producer, it's reader to do due diligence in its UVA/fraternity rape story. The fact that the story unraveled so quickly under modest investigation shows to any reasonable person (thus liberals are probably excluded) that they did not, and deserve whatever legal penalties they incur.

Sure, some officials at UVA were also culpable. The fraternity that was sanctioned for a bogus charge should try to extract a pound of flesh from UVA.

But, as Stacy points out there is a third party, whose misdeed underlay the whole affair:
This is the real bottom line: Under pressure from feminists, the Obama administration has promoted policies that put male students at risk of false accusations, which are adjudicated in campus tribunals where the accused have none of the basic civil rights accorded to any common criminal in a court of law. Simply by setting foot on a university campus, under new policies imposed by federal authorites, a male student forfeits his due-process rights. He may be branded a rapist on the mere say-so of his accuser, and subject to immediate disciplinary action — including expulsion — without a police investigation, without a right to have a lawyer present during question, and without ever having an opportunity to confront his accuser in court.

Rolling Stone was complicit in this White House-orchestrated scheme to deny the constitutional rights of male students. The false narrative that Erdely told required a villain, and Nicole Eramo was blamed.
And the only timely cure for that problem is the ballot box.

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