A University of Virginia dean profiled in Rolling Stone’s retracted story about an alleged campus gang rape said she was personally and professionally “damaged” by the magazine’s portrayal of her.
Nicole Eramo, the UVA official responsible for responding to campus assaults, said her face and name are now “forever linked to an article that has damaged my reputation and falsely portrayed the work to which I have dedicated my life.” Rolling Stone’s apologies are “not good enough,” Eramo, UVA’s associate dean of students, said Wednesday in an open letter published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Rolling Stone story, “A Rape on Campus,” began to unravel within weeks of its November publication under media scrutiny and an investigation by the Charlottesville Police Department. The magazine formally retracted the article earlier this month after a review by Columbia Journalism School called it a “journalistic failure.” Eramo said she was targeted by threats and protests because of allegations that she failed to respond to the rape report and was removed from her role counseling sexual assault victims.
“I would see this first as someone trying to clear their name in the public” and not necessarily a prelude to a defamation suit, said Maxwell Kennerly, an attorney with the Beasley Firm LLC in Philadelphia.
The Rolling Stone article suggested that Eramo, who was in charge of advising and counseling UVA sexual assault victims, discouraged them from reporting to police. Subsequent investigations have shown that Eramo arranged for “Jackie,” the subject of the story, to meet with detectives and that the student declined to pursue an investigation.
The article also featured an illustration of Eramo smiling and giving a “thumbs up” signal to a young woman crying in her office. Rolling Stone’s attorneys told UVA in February that the article’s portrayal of Eramo was “fair,” even after the magazine had apologized to readers, Eramo said in the letter.
“We sincerely regret any pain we caused Dean Nicole Eramo and others affected by this story,” Rolling Stone said Wednesday in an e-mail.
Anthony de Bruyn, a UVA spokesman, declined to comment and referred questions to Eramo’s lawyer, Tom Clare of Clare Locke LLP in Alexandria, Virginia. Clare didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.