Sabrina Corgatelli, Idaho State and Social Media

The luring and killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe  started an online frenzy against big game hunters.  Within hours of the story going public Minnesota Dentist Walter J. Palmer was no longer a free man. The outrage of people commenting on social media spurred a frenzy of activity which resulted in closing down his dental practice and petitions to the White House to extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe.

Just a few days later an accountant at Idaho State University, Sabrina Corgatelli got in on the game.  While it seemed Walter Palmer was trying to fly under the radar, Corgatelli did anything but.  She set up a Facebook page especially for the hunt along with posting on Instagram.  Was she looking for her fifteen minutes of fame?  Her photos and comments revel in the game kills she has made and taunts the “haters” as she calls them.  One of these posts was accompanied by an image of a smiling Leonardo DiCaprio in his role as the Great Gatsby, captioned: ‘To all the haters – stay tuned, you’re gonna have so much more to be p***ed about.’ But the picture that outraged most people is one of her next to the giraffe she killed.

Her employer Idaho State University has been eerily quiet. In one twitter post someone posted that ISU stated that Corgatelli’s actions have nothing to do with the University. While that is unconfirmed, let me remind all employers that there is very little separation between personal and professional when an internet outrage is sparked.  All it tells me for sure is that Idaho State has no idea how to handle this crisis.  I put in a call to Dr. Adrienne King who is shown on the ISU website as the person in charge of crisis communications.

Dr. King called me back and I asked her why there was no official response from the University.  She told me that they did post a full statement on the Idaho State University Facebook page on August 4. I asked her how the University reacted to Corgatelli’s actions and again I was referred to their Facebook page. These responses were not in keeping with an organization who knows how to deal with an online crisis.  I asked if the University had a Social Media policy and she admitted that they don’t.  “I imagine that we will have discussions towards that now” she replied.

Social media policies, however, cannot be the only cornerstone that determines if an organization is going to take action or not.  Is it in the best interest of any organization to keep an employee who caused such an international stir and flaunts killing of big game in our faces?  Is trial and conviction by internet a viable precursor for a corporation to take action?  In some instances that has been so.

Remember Justine Sacco? The woman who tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding I’m white!” She tweeted this out to her 170 followers just before her fight took  off and didn’t even think anyone would repy. But by the time her flight landed the Twittersphere exploded with outrage.  Her employer fired her by the time she landed in Cape Town.  I think she was the last to know.

Then this past January UK stockbroker Rahan Qadar was fired after a tweet joking about hitting a cyclist. “Think I just hit a cyclist. But I’m late for work so had to drive off lol”. He went by the name @RayQ18.  He told police he was joking but his employer Hargreaves Lansdown did not take the joke lightly and terminated Qadar’s employment

Both hunters declared that what they were doing was legal – as if that is the barometer for what is right. Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right.  I still can’t find Idaho State University’s official statement regarding Sabrina Corgatelli on their Facebook page.  They have set up a forum that allows you to post your comments but it is in a hidden away space with no replies to those posting.  Again, not very transparent and not engaging to rebuild public confidence of the stance; moral or otherwise that the University is taking regarding Corgatelli.

Justine Sacco and Rahan Qadar were fired for posting inappropriate comments on twitter. Both companies put out official statements stating they did not condone the behavior of their employees and saw no other option but to terminate employment.  Sabrina Corgatelli boasts about her kills online and Idaho State stands idly by.

Nejolla Korris is an expert in Linguistic Lie Detection and Social Media Risk.  She teaches seminars on these topics throughout North America, Africa, SE Asia and Europe.  Miss Korris received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her international work in lie detection.

Oscar Pistorius: What his words reveal – Part III

In Part I and II, we looked at the statement given by Oscar Pistorius at his bail hearing.  We examined his language describing the beginning of events on February 14, 2013.  The way a subject describes events assists the interviewer in formulating questions to establish truthful, deceptive and sensitive parts of the statement.  We cannot judge a person’s words by our own sense of logic, we must adapt to that of the subject. Let’s continue with another portion of his story.

I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

He already told us that he “told Reeva to call the police, why is he asking her to do it again? He doesn’t know if Reeva already called them.  He continues to say that “Reeva did not respond”. He didn’t tell us the first time he mentioned it that Reeva didn’t respond then.

We also have Pistorius tell us that he “fired shots” at the toilet door. So, the intruders know he has a gun but he is too scared to turn on a light still.  He also mentions being scared and we discussed in a previous post that emotions at the peak of the story are associated with deceptive statements.

When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.


This is an interesting paragraph. He “reached the bed” in a room where he was still too scared to turn on the light.    He then goes on to state that it “dawned on him” that Reeva could be in the bathroom.  This is a very nonchalant way to realize you might have shot your own girlfriend. The other thing to take into consideration is why Reeva may have locked the bathroom door.  Is it because she was afraid of Pistorius and trying to get away from him?

Remember Pistorius telling us previously he had limited mobility on his stumps?  Now he is telling us he rushed back to the bedroom, opened the balcony door and screamed for help. He had told Reeva to call the police…why did he scream on the balcony?

I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door.

This is also very interesting.  He does a fair amount of running back and forth in this segment.  He also tells us he “thinks” he turned on the light at this point.  People would remember if they did something in the dark or in the light.  It would have made running back and forth easier if he could see.  These become classic examples in statements where a person is making up the sequence of events.

In the interview it is also important to ask him about the sequence of events when he says that some panels broke off on the door and that he found the key on the floor. Where exactly was that key?

 Reeva was slumped over but alive. I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door. I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.

Let’s look closely at what Pistorius is telling us happened here. Remember how he kept telling Reeva to call police? He tells us he “battled” (what does that mean?) to get Reeva out of the toilet. Then all of a sudden he calls Johan Stander to call the ambulance.  Why didn’t he just call the ambulance himself? Then he has time to make another call to Netcare. He says that he “tried” to render assistance.   Why did he use the word tried? Either he did or he didn’t render assistance.  Which is it?

It would be interesting to note what height the bullet holes were.  Pistorius said that he fired the shots before he put his prosthetic legs on.  One of the things to do is look at the height of the bullet holes to see if that part of what he claims is true.

The verdict given by Judge Masipa was that Pistorius was not guilty of premeditated murder but that of culpable homicide.  The sentencing trial of Oscar Pistorius continued today.

For more information and training please go to

The SCAN technique (Scientific Content Analysis) is a methodology used to examine truthful and deceptive points in language.  The technique uses a consistent formula in the analysis of linguistic patterns in individuals.  Therefore, regardless of the subject’s education, profession or cultural background, the same consistent measures are used to measure the subjects’ words.  SCAN is used in the analysis of statements written by the subject, interview transcripts, and oral interviews