From the Washington Post:

A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo.

I'm someone who thought from day #1 that Rubin's 9,000-word story, "A Rape on Campus," reeked higher than the day before yesterday's steak tartare when I read this starting in only the fourth paragraph:

Drew ushered Jackie into a bedroom, shutting the door behind them. The room was pitch-black inside. Jackie blindly turned toward Drew, uttering his name. At that same moment, she says, she detected movement in the room – and felt someone bump into her. Jackie began to scream.

"Shut up," she heard a man's voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn't some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they'd return to the party.

"Grab its mothe[—-]ing leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.

She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men's heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group.He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn't get it up. "Pussy!" the other men jeered. "What, she's not hot enough for you?" Then they egged him on: "Don't you want to be a brother?"

Yeah, riiiight. Three hours of guys getting glass shards embedded in their hands, arms, knees, and, obviously, other exposed bodily parts? Really? Just the fact that Erdely and her editors–fell for that tale, which of course turned out to have been concocted out of thin air by Jackie, is prima facie evidence of either legal malice (reckless disregard for the truth) or just plain stupidity. The jury rejected stupidity and went for malice.

As Wapo reporter Rees Shapiro, who deserves high journalistic kudos for getting onto the rape hoax from practically Day 1, writes:

But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015.

Eramo’s lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine’s portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair….

Eramo’s lawyers presented evidence that Erdely had a predetermined notion of what her story would be, discussing the concept of the story that became “A Rape on Campus” well ahead of her reporting, including a note describing how college administrations can be “indifferent” to rape survivors….

Eramo’s lawyers said that Erdely had “a preconceived story line,” and acted with “reckless disregard,” by ignoring conflicting information in her reporting.

“Once they decided what the story was going to be about, it didn’t matter what the facts were,” [attorney Tom] Clare said.

Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages for the defamation, and the jury will hear evidence next week before deciding how much she's entitled to. I hope the max, and maybe more. Erdely story led to vandalsm of the fraternity house in question, terrorism directed at the brothers, and a needless suspension of Greek life at UVA and elsewhere. Not to mention widespread hysteria about fraternities and campus "rape culture" in general. The jury's finding may be a wakeup call for journalists who substitute preconceived political agendas for honest reporting.