Attorneys representing Rolling Stone magazine on Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought over a since-retracted article that alleged a sexual assault at a University of Virginia frat house.
The motion seeks to dismiss a suit brought by three graduates of the university who claim the article resulted in them being identified in online posts as the attackers detailed in the story and damaged their reputations.
The magazine’s attorneys argued in court documents that the article, titled "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," didn’t identify anyone portrayed in the alleged assault by name or describe them physically, and that they can’t claim to have been identified just by their affiliation with the frat.
"No reasonable reader would understand from the article and the proffered extrinsic evidence that plaintiffs are identified as the perpetrators," the attorneys wrote.
The Rolling Stone article published in November of 2014 detailed an alleged brutal gang rape of a UVA student named "Jackie" at a fraternity house, and sparked widespread outrage.
But questions were quickly raised about the validity of the account, and Rolling Stone eventually retracted the article by April. Charlottesville police also said they found no evidence that the attack described occurred.
In their lawsuit, the three graduates say that details of the account given by “Jackie” could lead a reader to narrow down the graduation years of those allegedly involved, and other details could lead one to surmise they were among the alleged attackers.
The suit says they were humiliated and mocked after they were presumed to be among those involved in the purported assault, and that their names "will forever be associated with the alleged gang rape."
The fraternity has sued Rolling Stone for $25 million. University of Virginia Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, who was portrayed in the article, has also filed a $7.8 million lawsuit.