The woman at the center of a discredited Rolling Stone article on an alleged rape defended herself in videotaped testimony for jurors Monday morning, placing blame on the journalist who interviewed her and claiming she didn’t know what “on-the-record” meant.
“A Rape On Campus,” a 2014 article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, followed “Jackie,” a University of Virginia student who alleged she had been gang raped by men from the same fraternity when she was a freshman at the school. But the 9,000 word story was later retracted after a report from Columbia Journalism School found that Jackie’s accounts had been fabricated, leading to “a journalistic failure that was avoidable.” Erdely had also failed to interview any of the suspects in the alleged crime.
Nicole Eramo, a former associate dean of students at the University of Virginia, is now seeking $7.9 million in damages from the magazine. Eramo believes she was painted as the central villain of Erdely’s piece.
On Monday, a videotaped deposition from Jackie was played for jurors. Her real name has not been revealed, and reporters were able to hear the audio but could not see her face, according to Yahoo.
Jackie said she thought that the details of her alleged rape would be private and not the central piece of the story.
“I was under the impression that they were not going to be published,” Jackie said. “I was naïve.”
She also said she did not understand phrases including “on-the-record” and “off-the-record,” according to Yahoo.
“I remember [Erdely] telling me there was no way for me to pull out at that point,” Jackie said in her testimony. “I remember feeling scared and overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. I felt like I was getting a lot of pressure from a lot of different people and I didn’t know what to do. I did not want to participate in the article at that point.”
During the three-hour testimony, Jackie repeatedly said she could not remember or had forgotten what she’d told Erdely, and said her memory was “foggy” because she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. (Jackie maintains that she was assaulted.)
Erdely said it was a mistake to “rely on someone intent to deceive me,” but asserted that her story did not hurt Eramo’s reputation, who is still employed with the university.
“We made journalistic mistakes with respect to Jackie’s story and we have learned from them, but these mistakes do not support Dean Eramo’s lawsuit,” Rolling Stone said in a statement to ABC News on Thursday.