UPDATED: Judge denies Eramo’s request for Jackie’s e-mails

UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo. Photo: UVA University Communications UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo. Photo: UVA University Communications

A judge denied Nicole Eramo’s request for additional documentation from Jackie in Eramo’s lawsuit against Rolling Stone.

The 46-minute hearing was conducted June 20 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe, who released his verdict the next day. Hoppe ruled that “the steps taken by Jackie’s counsel were relatively straight forward and appear to have exhausted all known areas of inquiry for responsive communications currently in Jackie’s possession.”

In court, Andrew Phillips, representing Eramo, expressed frustration at Jackie’s failure to respond to Eramo’s subpoena ordering Jackie to produce all documents and electronically stored communications between herself and Ryan Duffin and between herself and Haven Monahan.

To provide a refresher, the 2014 Rolling Stone article detailed Jackie’s alleged rape on September 28, 2012. After the rape, Jackie claims she emerged from the fraternity house Phi Kappa Psi disheveled and battered after the incident and contacted three friends. The friends immediately met with her, but were depicted within the article as callous and self-absorbed.

Jackie’s friend “Randall” in the story is Ryan Duffin, a young man with whom Jackie was not only friends, but was also enamoured. The romantic feelings, however, were not reciprocated. Eramo’s lawyers claim that, in response, Jackie created the alias of Haven Monahan and set up a ploy to engage communication between Monahan and Duffin, using texting services such as Text Free, an application that allows users to use different phone numbers for anonymous texting.

A subpoena was served on Yahoo to investigate the e-mail address of Monahan. Yahoo complied, and said the e-mail account was created one day prior to the day that Duffin received an e-mail from Monahan titled “about u.” The e-mail’s content included a flattering short essay that Jackie wrote about Duffin, according to Eramo’s attorney.

The e-mail starts off with commentary from Monahan: “you should read this. iv never read anything nicer in my life.” The e-mail goes on about Duffin: “He’s gorgeous, but gorgeous is an understatement. More like you’re startled every time you see him because you notice something new in a Where’s Waldo sort of way.” This e-mail from Monahan was sent to Duffin days after Jackie claimed she was raped at Monahan’s fraternity.

“The ‘about u’ message was one of the first things that made me particularly skeptical of Haven Monahan’s identity,” Duffin tells C-VILLE. “It seemed strange to be contacted directly by Jackie’s alleged assailant so soon after the attack. After I received that email, I started trying to find out if Haven was actually a student at the school. My search turned up nothing, but that wasn’t enough proof. It wasn’t shown definitively until the media was able to start making inquiries.”

Phillips told the court that there was heavy underlying evidence based on two known e-mail exchanges between Duffin and Monahan, along with hundreds of texts, that Jackie had orchestrated this communication and authored the messages. Phillips demanded an explanation.

Jackie’s counsel, Philip O’Beirne, retorted that these requests are unnecessary and have been deemed so in the past by a previous judge’s ruling. O’Beirne further said that a forensic investigation was completed on all of Jackie’s electronic devices and accounts and nothing was found that met Eramo’s demands.

The attorney went on to say that Eramo was attacking Jackie with attempts to obtain these documents and that it was inappropriate to include details of the assault that weren’t mentioned in the original interviews conducted by Rolling Stone. “Rolling Stone doesn’t think there’s any merit,” O’Beirne said.

Hoppe concluded in his order that any further explanation of Jackie’s search process was “unnecessary and not calculated to lead to a stone unturned.”

Updated: June 22 with judge’s decision