Have you heard about the gorgeous model in France who accused Tony Parker of cheating on Eva Longoria with her?
OK, but have you heard that people who know her say she's a fake? A scary mastermind who fabricated her relationship with Parker, fabricated a relationship with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho -- and even fabricated herself?
Meet my new close friend, 27-year-old Alexandra Paressant, who makes the character Glenn Close played in "Fatal Attraction" look like an amateur.
Last week, Parker filed a $20 million lawsuit against x17online.com, the celebrity website that first published Paressant's accusations. Thanks to Jamie Lynn Spears, Paressant has escaped much scrutiny. But she's still very much out there.
I tracked down Paressant last week after getting a routine assignment by PEOPLE magazine: find the French model who says she met Parker at his big July wedding to Longoria and started sleeping with him in September.
When I googled her, I got an eyeful: her ex-boyfriend was Ronaldinho. In 2006, he sued her for telling the press he'd been partying and having wild sex with her every night during the World Cup matches.
I immediately assumed Tony Parker was a cad and Ronaldinho was an idiot - but I could understand why.
The photos on Paressant's MySpace site were dazzling - they showed a knockout with long, dark hair and legs that stretched for miles. The photos were ads for Victoria's Secret and Dolce & Gabbana, among others. She listed Elite and other modeling agencies in Paris and New York. She had famous footballers and celebrities on her friends list.
Here's what I didn't know:
1. None of the photos on MySpace were of Paressant. They were different shots of similar-looking models. A lot of the site, which is now set to private, was made up.
2. Alexandra never had a relationship with Ronaldinho, according to his lawyer, who is also his brother, and there's no indication she ever met Tony Parker.
3. She appears to have created her relationship with Ronaldinho by anonymously flooding footballer forums with posts about "Ronaldinho and his fiance the French top model Alexandra Paressant" and doctoring photos. Fans and the media started to accept the fake relationship as fact.
4. Paressant took a quicker route with Parker: she contacted X17 with images of what she said were text messages from Parker and stories about their alleged sex life involving Nutella, strawberries and a vibrator shaped like a duck.
I knew none of this when I spoke to Paressant the first time on her mobile phone. She sounded calm, rational and repeated what she told X17:
She went to Parker's wedding and said Parker made eye contact with her all night. She contacted Parker through an alleged mutual friend in August and asked him to call her. Parker obliged and the two hooked up for the first time at the Parc Hyatt in Paris the last week of September. The sex was great - and was even better when Parker flew her over to his place in San Antonio in October.
Why was she going public? Oh, because Parker was also sleeping with her best friend, another "top" model named Ornella Irie. The last straw was when Parker demanded a menage a trois. She wanted the world to know he's not a faithful husband.
"C'est la vengeance," said Paressant.
I believed her. She said she couldn't meet me in person so I asked Paressant for proof of who she was at the end of our conversation. She emailed me an authentic-looking French resident card. Case closed. Or so I thought.
Then, bewildering holes started to appear in her story. Routine checks by a growing team of PEOPLE reporters assigned to the story showed that bookers at the modeling agencies she'd listed had gotten photos, emails and calls from her - but she never showed up in person. Nobody had ever met her.
The photo X17 used to illustrate the increasingly raunchy anecdotes Alexandra was feeding them about Parker appeared to be of a German model named Hana Nitsche.
Even weirder: Alexandra gave me the mobile phone number of her alleged best friend Ornella Irie. When I called "Ornella," the voice that answered was unmistakably Alexandra. "Ornella" was not to be confused with "Olivia Ducreu," a woman Alexandra has called her agent who also is said to be Paressant herself.
Then it turned out that before PEOPLE, there was one small monthly magazine in France called SO FOOT that investigated Paressant. The reporter, Alexandre Gonzalez, was suspicious about Paressant's alleged relationship with Ronaldinho and tracked down Paressant's divorced parents and old friends in her hometown, Le Creusot in Burgundy. Even her mother told Gonzalez that Alexandra always liked to make up stories.
In October 2006, Gonzalez wrote an article for the magazine in and one for its blog, calling Paressant a fraud who invented her relationship with Ronaldinho after a strange phone relationship with a minor soccer player who was married at the time. Gonzalez interviewed the athlete, who said Paressant called him constantly and threatened suicide though the two never actually met.
I called some old friends of Paressant, too.
Marie-Caroline Arnoldo, 27, told me she'd been best friends with Alexandra in high school. "She was never happy in her own skin," said Marie-Caroline. "She never thought she was pretty enough. She was troubled. It was like she felt she didn't really exist."
I emailed Marie-Caroline the identity card Alexandra sent me. No, the picture wasn't her. Marie-Caroline had seen the MySpace photos too and couldn't understand why Alexandra was using pictures of someone else. "She's not ugly but she's average," said Marie-Caroline. "She's definitely not model material."
In fact, Gonzalez uncovered some photos of Paressant taken in 2003 and she's pretty and slim, just not the blockbuster babe she pretends to be.
PEOPLE was about to go to press last week when I made a last phone call to Alexandra. I confronted her with the overwhelming evidence that she was what the French call a "mythomane."
Alexandra listened calmly.She denied everything - while firing questions at me like Mike Wallace. What bookers did we talk to? What were their names? She wanted names. How did we know her MySpace photos weren't of her? Who were they of?
I kept going over the evidence as she tried to rebut it.
"What about Marie-Caroline?" I said. "She was your friend. She knows what you look like. She says none of the photos are of you."
"Marie-Caroline detests me," she said.
Paressant never cracked. Far from it. In fact, she accused me of making everything up. Then she got mad for the first time and spoke a few words of English for the first time. "Write your shit," she said. "I don't care."
She didn't stay mad long. She called me up ten minutes later to chat. She's been calling me every day. She still insists she'll be in Los Angeles for Christmas to appear on TV shows like "Extra."
"Alexandra," I said wearily when we spoke yesterday. "We've been down this road before. 'Extra' is on hiatus. We checked. You're not going to be on 'Extra.'"
Again, I asked to meet her in person.
"Not now," she said. "I'm busy with my career."