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Lawsuit Says Tale of Gang Rape at UVa Arose From ‘Catfishing’

Lawyers for the plaintiff in a defamation suit against Rolling Stone magazine said its discredited account of a fraternity gang rape last year, which staggered the University of Virginia, had originated as a failed attempt by the purported victim to pursue a romantic relationship with a classmate, The Washington Post reported.

Citing text messages sent by the student, lawyers for Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students at Virginia, argued in court documents filed this week that the student, identified in the case only as “Jackie,” had invented a false online persona — gone “catfishing” — in her effort to gain the classmate’s attention.

That effort “morphed into a sensational claim of gang rape” at a campus fraternity, the Post said.

Ms. Eramo is seeking $7.5 million in damages from Rolling Stone for making what she calls “highly defamatory and false statements” about her.

The police in Charlottesville, Va., eventually determined that no gang rape had occurred. The magazine retracted the story.

Lawyers for Jackie did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

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