“I associated being vulnerable with people being able to say a bunch of crazy shit about you.” Faircloth (whose real name is Joan Elizabeth Harris), a then-26-year-old North Carolinian, initially came off as sympathetic.But as her accusations gained attention, her credibility came into question.
“My grandpa was a pediatrician, and for years his name was in the phone book,” Oberst says, reaching down from the couch to pet one of his dogs.
“His phone would ring all the time at one in the morning. ’ ” The attention could, and did, take more sinister turns.
And — as surreal as it was to have been the crush of many straight millennial feminists, only then to be demonized and become the unintentional hero of men’s-rights groups — given Oberst’s long-standing wariness of fans, to him it felt like a reckoning.
“I associated creativity and what I put out into the world with this traumatic experience,” he says.
But for more than six months, this was all being adjudicated in the blogosphere’s court of public opinion.
“I shed some tears in a couple hotel rooms,” Oberst says with a pained smile.
There was confusion about the details of the alleged incident, and witnesses, including ones Faircloth herself named, said she was never anywhere near Oberst on the night she claimed the event had taken place.
(From the outset, Oberst vehemently denied the accusations.) Over time, other parties came forward claiming Faircloth had an extensive history of misrepresenting herself online.
But until Oberst crash-landed here late last year, at the end of an emotional and physical tailspin that began in late 2013, when a fan falsely accused him of rape, culminating in his being hospitalized, he hadn’t lived full time in Nebraska since his early 20s.