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Karen Owen's Duke thesis may land her in a heap of trouble -- and a lucrative book deal

(Dusan Vranic/AP)

When your entire college sexual repertoire is spread across the Internet for the world to read, it might be a disheartening experience.

Of course, Duke student Karen Owen did write the entire report herself, made a handy PowerPoint presentation with photographs and passed it out to her nearest and dearest friends.

Even so, she probably did not expect it to become international news.

When she did speak on the record in an interview with Jezebel, a women's news web site, she said she "regretted it with all my heart."

Thanks to the ever-salacious public that has since made her list go viral, Owen may assuage that regret with plenty of cash. Jezebel reports that William Morris agent Ari Golds tried to contact her and HarperCollins is also champing at the bit.

The HarperCollins pitch said, "Even though I'm sure she's horrified that her, uh, presentation, which was intended for a small group of friends, has gone viral, she's a very good, funny writer, and I'm wondering if she has any interest in writing a book."

Owen could join that vaunted legion of women who have cashed out on their sex scandals. After Jessica Cutler was outed from the anonymous sex blog "The Washingtonienne," she secured a six-figure deal. Eliot Spitzer's escort Ashley Dupre reportedly managed a $2 million deal, though she never did write the book.

Owen could also take The Fix's Chris Cilliza's advice on how to handle social media scandals.

Buck up, Karen Owen, you'll be regretting your way to the bank soon enough.

By Melissa Bell  | October 8, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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This story intrigues me. It has it all but sadly it reveals much about where our society is going. Of course, we all state when writing about it [Karen Owen’s Presentation], what has happened is unfortunate, but that is just how things are, we hasten to add, on the internet. I am fast concluding that it doesn’t matter what you do, or how much shame you are responsible for causing, as long as it ultimately proves to be lucrative. Have morals, be kind to others, but if there’s a buck to be made, stay focus and don’t be distracted by something as unimportant as the feelings of others. Sad really. James

Posted by: james_social | October 8, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

what is the heap of trouble referred to in the headline? some Duke brats being mad? so what?
I was struck by how enthusiastic she was about the *one* kid who "insisted" on her experience, er, culminating before his every time. she responded to what her great-grandma probably did back in the day. kindness, caring and a sense of loving togetherness.
within the gross-out context, this passed for love. and that is what she recalled as *best.*
duly noted.

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | October 8, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The bigger issue here is how digital media invades people's privacy. We have a growing culture of cyberbullying.

Recent suicides of gay youth who were bullied online, including by having intimate moments broadcast via video without their knowledge.

Both the young women (who was stupid but didn't deliberately post this to the web) and the men have had their privacy invaded. Family, friends, future employers, children ... will all have access to intimate and embarassing details. As we saw with the recent gay suicides, you never know how this can destroy someone's life and future.

Unfortunately we can expect more of this sort of thing with Facebook, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. There's no limit on the spread of anonymous rumors, personal attacks, and deliberate exposures of privacy which live on indefinitely on the web.

No moment will ever be truly private and no one will truly be safe from exposure to vicious digital lynchings.

Posted by: info23 | October 8, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Here are some things she won't be hearing for a long time, if ever:

"Mom, Dad, I'd like you to meet my fiancee, Karen Owen."

"You look great in that white wedding gown."

"Your Mom and Dad must be so proud of you."

"You're hired!" (well, for legitimate work, anyway)

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | October 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Ari Gold? From Entourage? Interesting.

Posted by: claytonmedford | October 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Duke makes a name for itself again.

Posted by: ThoughtfulGuy | October 8, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Just because you don't like the people (Duke brats) doesn't make what Karen Owens did ok. I wonder if there would be more outrage if the "thesis" was written by a male about 13 females.

Posted by: tc297 | October 8, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Words fail me.

Posted by: hakafos44 | October 9, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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