The University of Virginia fraternity that was the subject of a now-discredited gang rape article by Rolling Stone announced it was suing the magazine for the "reckless" and "defamatory" piece.
In a statement released on 6 April, Phi Kappa Psi Charlottesville chapter president Stephen Scipione said, "Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers. If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it's time to get serious."
The fraternity's decision to pursue legal action was released the same day a damning report by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism revealed shortcomings in all editorial stages by Rolling Stone.
"Rolling Stone's repudiation of the main narrative in 'A Rape On Campus' is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable," the report stated. "The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking. The magazine set aside or rationalised as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine's editors to reconsider publishing Jackie's narrative so prominently, if at all."
The Rolling Stone's article at the centre of the nationwide controversy was published on 19 November 2014 and purported to chronicle the gang rape of a UVA junior dubbed Jackie by seven young men connected to the university's Phi Kappa Psi chapter.
The story was later redacted by the magazine after reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely began to doubt Jackie's story and found flaws in her account. Several news organisations also doubted and challenged Erdely's reporting.
A Rape On Campus even prompted a four-month investigation by the Charlottesville police department, which announced in March that it had "exhausted all investigative leads" and found there was "no substantive basis to support the account alleged in the Rolling Stone article".
Despite the backlash, the magazine announced it will not make changes to its reporting and editing process, and that no one involved in the article would be fired, CBS News reported.
Phi Kappa Psi's statement added the magazine's failure to act after the report by Columbia helped prompt its decision to sue.
It read, "The reporter in question not only failed to apologise to members of Phi Kappa Psi, but doesn't even acknowledge the three witnesses she quoted in the article but never interviewed. This is a clear and sad indication that the magazine is not serious about its journalistic obligations leaving the door open for equally irresponsible reporting in the future."
According to CBS News, Erderly issued an apology on 5 April, saying: "I did not go far enough to verify her story. I allowed my concern for Jackie's well-being, my fear of re-traumatising her and my confidence in her credibility to take place of more questioning and more facts."