Three former University of Virginia students have filed a lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine over its discredited and redacted campus rape story. The three men, who were members of the fraternity portrayed in the story, also sued the article's author and the magazine's publisher, Wenner Media.
The Associated Press reported George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford and Ross Fowler filed their lawsuit on 29 July in US District Court in New York.
According to the men's lawyer, the three suffered "vicious and hurtful attacks" due to the inaccuracies in the November 2014 article written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. In the suit, the three 2013 graduates claim the report "created a simple and direct way to match the alleged attackers" of the alleged gang rape to the trio.
Elias's room at the fraternity was identified as "the mostly likely scene of the alleged crime" based on the article's details, the AP reported.
"Upon release of the article, family friends, acquaintances, co-workers and reporters easily matched (Elias) as one of the alleged attackers and, among other things, interrogated him, humiliated him, and scolded him," the suit stated. The lawsuit also claimed Hadford and Fowler "suffered similar attacks."
The AP reported that the men's lawyer said their identities were anonymously revealed online after the story was published. The lawsuit added their "names will forever be associated with the alleged gang rape."
In the filing, Alan L Frank, the men's attorney, wrote, "These claims had a devastating effect on each of the plaintiffs's reputations".
Each of the plaintiffs are suing on three counts, including defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The three are asking for at least $75,000 for each count.
Kathryn Brenner, a spokeswoman for Wenner Media, said the magazine declined to comment on the lawsuit.
On 29 July, it was announced that Will Dana, Rolling Stone's managing editor will leave the publication in August after 19 years at the magazine. According to the Christian Science Monitor, when asked if Dana's departure was connected to the discredited article, a spokeswoman for the magazine's publisher said that "many factors go into a decision like this."
The magazine was also sued by a UVA associate dean in May for more than $7.5m. The fraternity involved, Phi Kappa Psi, also announced it would sue the magazine for the discredited report.