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Jury awards $3 million in damages over Rolling Stone rape story

A federal court jury on Monday awarded $3 million in damages to a University of Virginia administrator that it previously found was defamed by Rolling Stone magazine's now-retracted story of a gang rape, court documents show.

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The Rotunda on campus at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. REUTERS/Library of Congress/Carol Highsmith/Handout

A federal court jury on Monday awarded $3 million in damages to a University of Virginia administrator that it previously found was defamed by Rolling Stone magazine's now-retracted story of a gang rape, court documents show.

The 10-person U.S. District Court jury in Charlottesville, Virginia found that the writer of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, should pay $2 million in damages and the magazine $1 million to the administrator, Nicole Eramo.

Eramo had sought at least $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages in the high-profile case.

The jurors last week found Rolling Stone, owner Wenner Media and Erdely liable for actual malice against Eramo in the magazine's November 2014 story "A Rape on Campus."

The magazine reported that a female student identified only as "Jackie" was raped at a university fraternity in 2012. The story sparked a national debate about sexual assault at U.S. colleges and resonated with many who saw it as a battle cry against sexual violence on campuses.

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Rolling Stone admitted that it never sought comment from the seven men accused of the alleged rape and retracted the story in April 2015. An outside review found the magazine had failed to follow basic journalistic safeguards.

Eramo, who was then an associate dean of students, accused the magazine of portraying her as the story's villain and as focused on hushing up sexual assault reports. She now works in an administrative role at the university.

Eramo has claimed damages from the story include harm to her reputation, embarrassment, emotional distress and humiliation.

Campus sexual assault remains a major concern, with some reports estimating that one in five female students will be a victim. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker)

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