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Student Accuses Her Principal of Stealing His Speech

An Ashton Kutcher speech does bear a striking resemblance
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2019 11:00 AM CDT
In this May 23, 2019 photo, Principal Kenny DeMoss gives closing remarks during Parkersburg High School’s 2019 graduation ceremony, in Parkersburg, W.Va.   (Michael Erb/News and Sentinel via AP)

(Newser) – A West Virginia principal accused of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher in an address to his school's graduating class says he didn't mean to use someone else's work, the AP reports. Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss has issued a statement saying he should have cited his sources in the May 23 speech, but asserted the ideas were his own. "I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart," he wrote, adding that he's upset the speech has stolen the focus from graduating students. A graduate posted a video to Facebook (see it here) that spliced DeMoss' speech with Kutcher's 2013 Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards speech and has since amassed more than 100,000 views. The speeches used similar wording and at times featured identical phrasing. Among the similarities, per TooFab:

  • DeMoss begins by saying he will "spill the tea" on these things: "opportunity, being intriguing, and living life." (Kutcher's list was "opportunity, being sexy, and living life.")
  • DeMoss listed the jobs he had as a young man, including "carrying shingles up to the roof"—which happened to be Kutcher's first job with his dad.
  • "Be smart, be thoughtful, be generous ... everything else is just crap, crap that someone is trying to sell you," they both say.
  • They both wrap up by saying, "I love you guys."
"And unfortunately when I don't cite everyone, I'm personally taking a hit," said DeMoss afterward. "Lesson learned for me." (Kutcher recently testified in a murder trial.)

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