White House adviser introduced UV rape accuser to Rolling Stone

Jul 20, 2015 by

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro –

Rolling Stone has confirmed for the first time in a court filing that a University of Virginia sexual assault victim advocate, who also served on an Obama administration White House task force, introduced the student who became the centerpiece of the magazine’s now-retracted story about a gang rape on campus.

The move could open the door for the magazine to try to shift blame to the university for a journalism debacle that continues to reverberate across the country.

Rolling Stone’s legal filing late last week came in response to a $7.5 million libel lawsuit filed by U.Va. Dean Nicole Eramo, who claims she was unfairly depicted as the “chief villain” in the now discredited article about a woman nicknamed “Jackie” who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity. Police who investigated the claim said they found no evidence of such an attack.

Ms. Eramo argued in her lawsuit that she was portrayed as an official working for a university “indifferent to rape on campus, and more concerned with protecting its reputation than with assisting victims of sexual assault.”

She filed her complaint shortly after Rolling Stone asked the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism to conduct an independent investigation of the article, which concluded in a scathing report published in April that the magazine disregarded “basic, even routine journalistic practice.”

But Rolling Stone’s recent legal answer adds another twist, pointing to a young woman, Emily Renda, who the magazine says played an important role in the story. According to Rolling Stone’s legal filing, Ms. Renda facilitated the introduction between the reporter, contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and the purported victim, and essentially pushed the story in Washington and in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Defendants admit that Erdely was directed to Jackie by Emily Renda, a recent UVA graduate and sexual assault survivor who, at the time she met Erdely, was an employee of UVA working on sexual assault issues,” the magazine’s filing says. “Defendants further state that the fact that Emily Renda worked at UVA and directed Erdely to Jackie, coupled with the fact that Renda included Jackie’s account of being ‘gang-raped’ by multiple fraternity men in her June 2014 congressional testimony regarding campus sexual assault issues, provided credibility to Jackie’s story.”

Neither Ms. Renda nor Ms. Erdely returned calls to The Washington Times on Sunday seeking comment.

Ms. Renda was a UVa. student and outspoken rape victim advocate who held several positions in Charlottesville since 2011 to combat the problem of sexual assault.

A former intern in the Sexual and Domestic Violence division of the U.Va. Women’s Center, Ms. Renda, according to her LinkedIn page, now works as a project coordinator for the U.Va. vice president for student affairs — a position she also held at the time Ms. Erdely first came to the small college town.

Ms. Renda introduced the reporter to a young woman named Jackie, who had been visiting with her victims’ advocacy group, One Less. She was even personally acquainted with Ms. Eramo.

The recent legal filing’s references to Ms. Renda shed new light on several roles the rape victims’ advocate assumed on campus in Charlottesville and the unusually high credibility she garnered in Washington.

On June 26, 2014, just before Ms. Renda introduced Jackie and Ms. Erdely, she testified about Jackie’s incident before a U.S. congressional committee.

She also served as an adviser to a White House sexual assault task force and reportedly visited the White House six times last year.

Ryan Duffin, one of the three U.Va. students who befriended Jackie her freshman year and came to her aid the night of the purported rape said he was not surprised that Ms. Erdely connected with Ms. Renda.

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Source: Rolling Stone says University of Virginia rape accuser introduced by White House adviser – Washington Times

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