(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The author of a now-retracted Rolling Stone article about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia on Thursday acknowledged Thursday that she made mistakes while reporting the story of the woman identified only as “Jackie.”
Sabrina Rubin Erdely took the stand in the defamation trial against the magazine over its 2014 story about a woman identified only as “Jackie.” University administrator Nicole Eramo is seeking $7.8 million from the magazine for its portrayal of her in the story.
Libby Locke, an attorney for Eramo, quizzed Erdely about her reporting errors, including her decision not contact the Jackie’s friends who went to her aid the night of the alleged assault and failure to raise concerns about changes in Jackie’s account over time. Erdley said in her earlier deposition that she was aware that Jackie had initially told her roommate she was attacked by five men, but later said it was seven men.
Erdely, of Philadelphia, said Thursday that Jackie’s changing story didn’t bother her because “it takes trauma victims time to come forward with all the details.”
“There’s a lot of shame and self-blame involved,” Erdely said. “The details had changed over time as she came to terms with the rape.”
Locke also criticized Erdely’s failure to interview the friends Jackie said were with her just after the alleged assault. Erdely’s reporting notes contained the full name of one of those friends, but Erdely said she overlooked it.
“It’s embarrassing to say it,” she said. “I had this in my notes and I didn’t even see it,” she said.
Eramo’s attorneys tried to show Thursday that Erdely’s earlier articles are also rife with errors. They pointed to an article Erdely wrote in college in which Erdely later said “just about everything in the story was wrong.”
The judge said that he would not allow the jury to watch a video of Erdely discussing that article because the reporter said she hadn’t seen it. It’s unclear whether the video could be introduced at a later time.
Associated Press writer Heidi Brown in Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to this report.