The waiting game continues Friday for Nicole Eramo, Sabrina Erdely and Rolling Stone deputy managing editor Sean Woods, along with their lawyers, support staff and the media as Day 16 in Eramo’s defamation lawsuit trial against the magazine begins and the jury deliberates for a third day.
The jury will decide whether Rolling Stone acted with actual malice when it published the now-retracted “A Rape on Campus” November 19, 2014. The story recounted first-year Jackie’s lurid tale of a gang rape at Phi Kappa Psi, which wreaked havoc on grounds at UVA before her account fell apart within a few weeks. A later Charlottesville Police investigation could find no evidence of the assault.
Eramo’s $7.5 million complaint says she was unfairly depicted as an indifferent administrator who tried to steer sexual assault victims from reporting to police to keep rape statistics low, because, “Nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school,” a statement in the article she says she never made.
The case drew national attention, and even now reporters from the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and ABC are waiting for a decision.
“The only thing predictable about a jury is its unpredictability,” says legal expert David Heilberg, who is not connected to the case.
And if the jury rules in favor of Eramo, the trial will continue with a damages phase, which her attorney Libby Locke has estimated could take another half day of testimony. That will send the jury back to determine how much to award.