Manti Te'o news resembles suburban case

Manti Te'o news resembles suburban case

Posted by Mike Riopell on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 11:27

The first thing we thought of upon reading the incredible Manti Te'o news was a Illinois Supreme Court case out of Batavia that was decided last year.

SPRINGFIELD — A Batavia woman can't be sued for creating more than 20 fake personalities online to foster an Internet relationship with a California woman who sent $10,000 worth of gifts to her phantom love, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled today.

The high court ruled 7-0 that Paula Bonhomme of California couldn't sue Janna St. James of Batavia because the two were involved in a personal relationship. Typically, the fraud Bonhomme was claiming is only relevant in business relationships.


St. James created an online persona — a firefighter named Jesse Jubilee James — on an online community for the HBO series "Deadwood." Over 18 months, she created numerous other fictional characters to corroborate the story, leading Bonhomme to fall in love with the fake firefighter.

Eventually, St. James killed off the main character, having him "die of liver cancer."

Bonhomme discovered the hoax when St. James, who also was communicating with Bonhomme under another name, traveled to California for a visit and Bonhomme's friends — who had grown suspicious — confronted St. James.

No one knows if the Te'o situation will ever land in court, but here's a case to think about if it does.

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