A federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday dismissed a libel suit brought by three former University of Virginia fraternity members against Rolling Stone magazine over a 2014 article that falsely described a gang rape at their fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said the suit was baseless because none of the three were named or described in a way that made them identifiable in the false article, which the magazine later admitted had been based on a phony claim by a purported victim named “Jackie.”
One plaintiff sued because his room was located in a spot consistent with the article’s description of where the rape occurred. A second said the article suggested the rape was part of a fraternity initiation, and he was the rush chairman. A third rode a bike around campus and the article said the victim saw one perpetrator riding his bike.
“The article’s details about the attackers are too vague and remote from the plaintiffs’ circumstances to be ‘of and concerning’ them,” Castel said. Rolling Stone retracted the article shortly after it was published.