They were accused of rape, the story was discredited, and now they're seeking justice — millions of dollars' worth. After a Rolling Stone article claimed members of the University of Virginia fraternity Phi Kappa Psi gang-raped a woman during a party in 2012, members of the fraternity said they would sue. After months of national media attention, a police investigation that did not find evidence of rape, and a statement from the magazine retracting its story, on Monday the lawsuit was made official. For defamation and damaged reputations, members of the fraternity are suing Rolling Stone for a whopping $25 million.
It's a lot of money, but Phi Kappa Psi feels it's justified. The lawsuit claims Rolling Stone damaged the reputations of the accused fraternity members and Phi Kappa Psi itself, The Washington Post reported. "The article also subjected the student members and their families to danger and immense stress while jeopardizing the future existence of the chapter," the fraternity said in a statement on Monday. In the aftermath of the Rolling Stone article, the University of Virginia temporarily suspended all fraternity and sorority activity and requested a police investigation. There were property damages to the Phi Psi frat house as well. After the publication of the article, anonymous vandals broke windows and graffitied "UVA Center for Rape Studies," on the building, according to Newsweek.
Bustle has reached out to Rolling Stone for comment on the lawsuit. A statement released by Rolling Stone in December 2014 said "In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced." Later, the magazine revised its statement, adding "These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie."
This is not the only lawsuit Rolling Stone faces in light of the publication and retraction of the article. According to The Washington Post, Nicole Eramo, an associate dean at the University of Virginia, sued the magazine in May for an additional $7.5 million, as she claims she was negatively portrayed as lax on student sexual assault accusations.
It's been almost exactly a year since the magazine published the issue featuring a story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely that accused several unnamed fraternity members of rape. She described a party at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012, where a young woman named "Jackie" was allegedly raped by several frat members. Then several media outlets pointed out discrepancies in the story, and an investigation conducted by the Columbia School of Journalism found Erdely never contacted the fraternity members for comment, among other journalistic "failures." Rolling Stone later retracted the article and apologized after a police investigation found no evidence to support Jackie's claims. The lack of evidence, though, "doesn't mean something terrible didn't happen," the police said at the time.
Since the magazine already released a statement apologizing and retracting Erdely's story, the future of the lawsuit remains to be seen.