Jackie Coakley gained infamy as the accuser at the center of a Rolling Stone story about rape at the University of Virginia that turned out to be fake, and now Coakley is under pressure from a Virginia court to reveal what she said to a reporter about the allegations.
This week, a judge overseeing a defamation case filed by the University of Virginia dean ordered Coakley to turn over communications relating to the alleged assault. The judge specifically asked Coakley for communication with Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the reporter who contacted Coakley and wrote the story.
Lawyers for Coakley tried to argue that the communications were privileged, Reason reported, but U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad rejected that argument.
Jackie must surrender records of her fake rape allegations. What it means: https://t.co/5X7HWmBiCQ
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) January 28, 2016
A lawyer for Nicole Eramo, the University of Virginia dean named in the Rolling Stone story who is now suing Rolling Stone for $7.5 million, said he welcomed the decision.
“Jackie was the primary source for Rolling Stone‘s false and defamatory article,” Andy Phillips wrote in a statement. “It appears that Jackie fabricated the account of the sexual assault portrayed in Rolling Stone, and that Rolling Stone knew she was an unreliable source. We look forward to moving forward with discovery and taking this case to trial.”
— The Cavalier Daily (@cavalierdaily) January 28, 2016
The Rolling Stone story, titled “A Rape on Campus,” was published in November and claimed that an undergraduate known then only as “Jackie” was gang raped by members of a fraternity. The woman claimed that the rape was part of a brutal initiation rite, and that at one point she was forced to lie on broken glass while she was raped. As a result the university suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
But other reporters soon poked holes in the story, which unraveled as a fabrication, with no such rape ever taking place. Afterward university officials moved to re-instate the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
“In today’s 24-hour news cycle, we must guard against a rush to judgment as we often don’t have all of the facts in front of us,” said Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi told the university’s official website.
More details about the Rolling Stone rape story have since come out, including the revelation that Jackie Coakley may have invented both the rape incident and a fictional college student as part of a “catfishing” scheme to gain sympathy from a love interest. Jackie claimed the student — named Haven Monahan — had asked her on a date that ended up with her being forced to have sex with five other students.
“All available evidence demonstrates that ‘Haven Monahan’ was a fake suitor created by Jackie in a strange bid to earn the affections of a student named Ryan Duffin that Jackie was romantically interested in,” Eramo’s lawyers wrote in court papers, via the Washington Post.
While Coakley is accused of lying about the gang rape, the lawsuit focuses on Erdley and whether she properly followed up on the allegations. Eramo’s lawyers claim that a simple investigation would have turned up the fake allegations, and the judge cited this in the ruling.
“One of the main issues in the defamation action is defendants’ due diligence in relying on Jackie as a source for the Article. Plaintiff argues that defendants could have interviewed Ryan Duffin and others about Jackie’s story and her credibility as a witness, but failed to do so. As such, these communications are relevant and proportionate as they will help resolve the question of what the defendants could have discovered about Jackie’s story and credibility if they had interviewed Jackie’s friends.”
Though Jackie Coakley will now have to turn over her correspondences with Sabrina Erdley as well as her text messages related to Haven Monahan, the public will not get to see what these entailed. A judge said the documents will remain confidential.
[Picture by Jay Paul/Getty Images]