The U.S. District Court in Charlottesville ruled January 25 to grant “in part” Nicole Eramo’s motion to compel Jackie, the woman at the center of a now-discredited Rolling Stone article about a gang rape at the University of Virginia, to release relevant communications in Eramo’s defamation suit against Rolling Stone.
Of the six types of documents Eramo, associate dean of students at UVA, requested, the court granted four in full and two in part. Of particular importance, the court ruled that Jackie, no longer a student at the university, must turn over her correspondence with Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone, Eramo and UVA.
“The court finds that the communications between Jackie and defendants, and between Jackie and Eramo/UVA, are highly relevant to the claims and defenses in the defamation action, and that discovery of such communications is proportionate to the needs of the case,” Judge Glen Conrad ruled.
Jackie has been reluctant to hand over these documents since Eramo filed the initial subpoena in July, and her lawyer argued that the demands infringe upon her privacy. Specifically, Jackie contended that she should not have to turn over her communications with Eramo and UVA because of the privacy implied by “patient-counselor privilege.”
Conrad, however, dismissed this argument by saying that it was “without merit.”
“Even assuming that the court could find that this statute establishes a patient-counselor privilege,” Conrad’s memorandum reads, “it appears that Jackie may have waived such privilege by voluntarily disclosing the contents of her communications with Eramo and UVA to defendants.”
Eramo’s motion also requested Jackie’s communications under the pseudonym “Haven Monahan,” the name Jackie gave to her date the night she was allegedly raped and a pseudonym through which Eramo believes she was “catfishing” to attract student Ryan Duffin. While Duffin complied with the initial subpoena and handed over his texts with Monahan and Jackie, Eramo still wants Jackie’s communications with Duffin, as well as those she authored under the Monahan pseudonym.
Jackie allegedly used this alias primarily when speaking to her friend Duffin, texting him and claiming to be Monahan, who did not understand why Jackie would not go out with him. Although Duffin says multiple times that he believes her, his later texts reveal that he has doubts about her truthfulness.
“We could find no evidence that Haven ever was at UVA,” Duffin writes in a text to Jackie. “People Search turned up nothing. Even though he dropped out, he should still show up on it. We had more reasons.”
While the court was unwilling to grant Eramo full access to these documents, saying not all of them were “within a reasonable scope of discovery,” it did grant Eramo the communications between Monahan and Duffin, as well as “any other individual whose name Jackie had provided to defendants prior to the article’s publication.”
Eramo’s request for all of Jackie’s communications about the Rolling Stone article was also granted “in part,” primarily to protect Jackie’s privacy and because not all of her communications are relevant to the defamation suit.
“In an effort to balance Jackie’s privacy interest in the communications with their apparent relevance,” the memorandum reads, “the court will limit Demand No. 16 [Jackie’s communications about the Rolling Stone article] to only Jackie’s communications regarding the article itself and exclude any communications that refer to the details of her alleged assault.”
The court emphasized that any “graphic details” associated with Jackie’s alleged assault were unnecessary for Eramo’s defamation suit and thus would not be granted.
As a final measure of precaution to protect Jackie’s privacy, the court ruled that any documents she provides in response to the motion will be marked “confidential.”
Read Jackie’s texts online at c-ville.com.