Lawyers representing a University of Virginia student at the center of a debunked gang-rape allegation have acknowledged in court papers that the student has ties to a fake persona she once named as the ringleader of the alleged attack.
Filed in federal court Tuesday, the papers are part of an ongoing lawsuit a U-Va. associate dean filed against Rolling Stone magazine, arguing that the magazine published a defamatory account of how the Charlottesville school handles sexual assaults. The legal team representing “Jackie” acknowledged that they had recently accessed a Yahoo e-mail account for “Haven Monahan,” who the U-Va. student alleged had taken her on a date before leading her into a brutal gang rape in September 2012.
Lawyers representing U-Va. associate dean Nicole Eramo have described Monahan as a fictitious U-Va. junior created by Jackie to lure the romantic interest of another student, a practice known as “catfishing.”
The lawyers for Jackie wrote in the filing that they accessed the Monahan e-mail solely for the purpose of confirming that documents Eramo requested for the lawsuit were no longer in Jackie’s possession. Lawyers representing Jackie did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Eramo’s lawyer, Libby Locke, told The Washington Post that the filing shows that “they admit accessing it, which means Jackie is Haven, a point they’ve refused to answer all along.”
Eramo’s legal team filed the $10 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone in response to a sensational account of Jackie’s alleged sexual assault detailed in a lengthy expose published by the magazine in November 2014. An investigation by The Post eventually showed significant inconsistencies in the Rolling Stone account, and the Charlottesville Police Department and a Columbia University inquiry could not substantiate the allegations; the magazine subsequently retracted the story.
Eramo then sued Rolling Stone claiming that the account protrayed Eramo as callous and indifferent to Jackie’s gang rape allegations.
In the most recent filing, lawyers for Jackie wrote that Eramo’s legal team’s “unhinged” efforts to link the student to Monahan were part of a campaign to “harass and abuse” her.
But Eramo’s lawyers assert that the new evidence finally proves that Jackie created Monahan and his e-mail account as part of an elaborate ruse to lure another U-Va. student into a romantic relationship. In a series of text messages, Jackie wrote to friends at U-Va. that Monahan was a junior in her chemistry class who had invited her on a date. Then one night in September of her freshman year she alleged that Monahan and a group of men sexually assaulted after the date.
In their response, Jackie’s lawyers wrote that their client is “a non-party sexual assault victim,” who “has no desire to continue to engage in any disputes with Dean Eramo and merely seeks to be left alone.”