Friday, August 26, 2005

Elaborate hoax leaves Illinois student newspaper reeling

Kodee Kennings' story was pure gold.
For nearly two years, the motherless 8-year-old spoke and wrote movingly of her struggle to deal with her soldier father being shipped off to fight in Iraq, and Southern Illinois University's student newspaper chronicled her thoughts in its pages.
But there was no Kodee Kennings, and the elaborate hoax exposed Friday left The Daily Egyptian embarrassed.
"Certainly for us it's a sad day," said Eric Fidler, Daily Egyptian faculty adviser for the past year. "Some good can come from this, but it doesn't help our reputation. All we can do is be upfront with what happened and what we know."A 2004 SIU graduate who posed as Kodee's guardian says she and a former Daily Egyptian editor concocted the story to help his career. He denies that and says he was duped, too.A 10-year-old girl who posed as Kodee in public appearances and a man who pretended to be her father say they were unwitting participants in the scam and believed they were acting in a film.


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