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Judge in Rolling Stone lawsuit sides with lawyers for ‘Jackie’ on documents motion

Students pass through the lawn at the University of Virginia. (Photo by Norm Shafer/ For The Washington Post).
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A federal judge has ruled that the central figure in a discredited Rolling Stone magazine account of a gang rape at the University of Virginia does not have to hand over any additional documents related to the purported ringleader of the assault tale.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe wrote in an opinion Tuesday that the former U-Va. student identified in court documents as “Jackie” is not required to provide additional documents to the lawyers representing U-Va. Associate Dean Nicole Eramo in her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone. Eramo’s lawyers have argued that Jackie fabricated the assault story and created a fictional assailant.

Eramo filed the federal lawsuit in 2015, alleging that the magazine portrayed her as callous and indifferent to sexual assault survivors in a story that first published online in November 2014. The magazine’s editors later retracted the story and apologized to readers after The Washington Post, the Charlottesville Police Department and the Columbia University journalism school published reports showing deep flaws in it.

Lawyers in Rolling Stone lawsuit acknowledge ‘Jackie’ has ties to fake persona

Hoppe ruled that Jackie’s lawyers had shown the court that they had “exhausted all known areas of inquiry for responsive communications currently in Jackie’s possession.” Rebecca Anzidei, a lawyer representing the student, declined comment.

A lawyer representing Eramo, Libby Locke, said that they have presented evidence proving that Jackie had more communications in her possession between herself and the person she at one time identified as her attacker, Haven Monahan. No one by that name has ever been a student at U-Va., and a photo Jackie shared with friends that supposedly was of Monahan actually was of a classmate in Jackie’s Northern Virginia high school; the man, who attends school in another state, said he didn’t know Jackie well and hadn’t been in Charlottesville in many years. Eramo’s lawyers assert in court documents that Monahan is a figment of Jackie’s imagination.

“We feel confident that a jury will see that Jackie was not a reliable source of information and that Rolling Stone knew it when they published the false and defamatory article,” Locke said.

Rolling Stone did not return a request for comment Wednesday.