Conor Oberst's Rape Accuser Admits She Lied

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The North Carolina woman who accused Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst of rape has now changed her tune: She's admitted she made the whole thing up to "get attention."

In a notarized statement, Joanie Faircloth wrote that the online allegations she made late last year that Oberst raped her after a show were "100 percent false," Rolling Stone reports.

What compelled Faircloth to lie about the rape, and does Oberst have any legal recourse for damage done to his reputation?

Public Apology From Alleged 'Victim'

According to Spin, Faircloth contacted Oberst's lawyers and agreed to issue the notarized statement. In the statement, Faircloth writes that she made up false allegations against the singer "to get attention while I was going through a difficult period in my life and trying to cope with my son's illness."

Faircloth had claimed -- initially in the comments section of an article on the website xoJane, but later repeated elsewhere -- that Oberst had raped her after a show in Durham, North Carolina, when she was 16 years old.

But in her notarized statement, Faircloth admits that her "actions were wrong and could undermine the claims of actual sexual assault victims." She also apologized to Oberst for "writing such awful things about him."

$1.2M Defamation Lawsuit

Faircloth's apology may not get her out of trouble, however. Earlier this year, Oberst filed a $1.2 million defamation lawsuit against Faircloth, TMZ reports.

In a suit for libel -- the written form of defamation -- a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's statement harmed his reputation. Generally statements falsely accusing a person of perpetrating a serious crime are considered libel per se, meaning they are actionable without further proof of their defamatory nature.

Because Oberst is a public figure, however, he'd also have to prove actual malice -- that Faircloth knew her accusation was false, yet made it anyway. For this, Faircloth's notarized confession should suffice.

The plaintiff must also prove damages. In this case, Oberst claims Faircloth's allegations damaged his reputation and hurt sales of his music. Oberst also claims that Faircloth's lies caused him to lose out on a $200,000 option on his publishing contract.

With Faircloth publicly admitting to making false allegations, it's possible that settlement talks will soon commence.

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