Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Update: On a more positive note, I have been able to move on from this smear campaign and have a happy, fulfilling life. I just returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. This photo was taken on October 17, 2012 in beautiful San Benedetto, Del Tronto, Italy as I walked along the beach. That is where my ancestors on my father’s side came from and Pignotti is a very well known and respected name in that town, as Pignottis own many businesses there, including the lovely hotel where we stayed. It has been a wonderful experience getting more in touch with my Italian roots!

Thankfully, even though it took me awhile to find a job in my field, I have been employed throughout this period and so was able to afford this trip. As of September 2012, I am employed in my field at my degree level as a lead Program Evaluator/Researcher to evaluate a home visiting infant mental health program, a Connecticut-based intervention model, that serves teen parents who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and their 0-5 year old children/infants.  Interventions such as the one I am evaluating which help to develop healthy, secure maternal child attachment supply positive alternatives to the harmful and/or ineffective approaches I have expressed my concerns about.

Finally, an employer is smart enough not to believe everything that comes up on a Google search and who sees the mentality of the cyber smear campaigners for what it is and realizes what an injustice it would be to penalize me for that and instead, evaluates me on my actual job performance, not out of context distortions of my distant past or outright lies that my background screen soundly refutes. Of course, I will continue to write and publish on exposing untested, ineffective and/or harmful therapy practices while actively working to develop positive, evidence tested alternatives. There are indeed positive, helpful ways to promote and develop genuine attachment and attunement between mother and child.

I have already received a hateful response from my pseud-anonymous cyber stalker about this, who has tried to post seven times to this and my other blogs. Although it is my policy to post comments from those who have disagreements with me and I welcome debate, I draw the line at hate, threats and libelous statements that this communication contained, repeating the usual lies. The person is obviously very upset that I am happy and doing well in my life and that any sane person who reads the content of the smear campaign can see what a disturbed individual this is. As more people are getting targeted for various reasons by internet smear campaigns, more understanding is developing of the mentality of cyber bullies and cyber stalkers and people are realizing they, rather than the targets, are the ones with the problem.

Although this adversity is not something I would have chosen for myself, much good has come out of it for me spiritually, as it has brought me closer to God and helped me to develop a faith I would not have likely otherwise known. This is something no one can take away and puts all else in its proper perspective. I can honestly say that although I had a rough few years, I am happier than I have been in a very long time.

That being said, internet smear campaigns appear to be an occupational hazard for mental health consumer advocates who choose to challenge certain mental health practices that are untested and yet have proponents who promote them and make unsupported claims.  If anyone has any questions about anything they read on the internet about me, please do not hesitate to contact me and ask and above all, please do not make any assumptions about what you read, since Google or other internet search engines cannot tell the difference between fact and fabrication.

If you Google Monica Pignotti (pronounced “Peen-yocht-tee”), you will notice many odd and false postings come up on Google searches of my name which are made by people who are upset about my expression of concerns about the practices of some mental health professionals.  In addition to the many false statements that have been posted about me (such as the lie repeatedly posted that I have been arrested/convicted of crimes and fired when I have never been arrested, much less convicted for anything in my life, nor have I ever been fired from any professional job I have ever held in my entire life), postings have been made in my name that I did not write and quotes have been placed around words I neither wrote nor uttered and bizarre pictures are posted of women with my name on them, who are not me. To put it briefly, don’t believe everything you read on Google searches or images. Please click here to read a statement of support signed by 48 of my colleagues who share my concerns.  People who are unfamiliar with this form of abuse may wonder why I even bother to respond to this, but you would be surprised how many otherwise intelligent people believe whatever they read online.

This statement shows that professionals in the relevant scientific community support my work and contrary to what anonymous smear campaigners and practitioners of questionable practices would want to lead the readers to believe, my work is accepted and supported by the scientific community and not controversial. The only controversy about my writings is within the fringe cliques of those whose work I have criticized who try to turn the tables and call me fringe and controversial when the support I have received as well as my track record of peer reviewed publications in reputable journals, shows otherwise. One of my main detractors is the author of a self-published book who practices a form of therapy which, by his own admission is controversial. This individual also attempted to sue me and several others and a year ago, the case was dismissed by a Federal judge who opined that my writings did not constitute defamation, but rather, were opinion and all charges against us were dismissed, affirming our right to free speech as well as academic freedom.

Posting under multiple anonymous identities make it appear that there are more such detractors than there actually are. In internet jargon, this practice of one person using multiple pseudonyms to make it appear there is a mob at work when it is really only a few people with an ax to grind, is known as sock puppetry.

I have references from professionals who know me and have worked with me on a day-to-day basis, which I will provide to anyone with a legitimate inquiry about my standing with FSU, who will refute the lie I was “fired” and give you a more realistic assessment of what it is like to work with me. Click here for further details about the lies that have been posted about me and FSU. A background check will prove I do not have a criminal record of any kind, not even minor traffic violations, nor have I ever been arrested or charged with anything, nor do I or have I ever worked in an adult bookstore, nor have I had sexual relationships with my co-authors or any other inappropriate relationships with anyone else. These are just a few of the many lies that have been posted about me mostly by posters using pseudonyms or anonymous posters.

Bottom line: For the past three years someone appears to be investing a great deal of time and effort running a smear campaign against me that amounts to classic propaganda tactics. My friends tell me that this means I must be doing something right and be effective in my exposure of dangerous therapeutic practices. Otherwise why spend so much time and effort to attempt to discredit me? The smear campaigners have fabricated and posted the worst, most obscene possible things that can be attributed to a human being that they can and invent and then lie that I did them.  Some of the postings are postings with my name on them that I did not post (forgeries) and in others, quotations are put around sometimes obscene words I never wrote and there are completely fabricated stories about me. In addition to the fabrications, events from my very distant past that occurred before I ever obtained any advanced degrees and I have long since repudiated, are being taken out of context and misportrayed by the anonymous posters. A key difference here is that I have learned from my past mistakes whereas the proponents of the therapies I have expressed concerns about apparently have not, hence their need to attack anyone who challenges them.

It is a common misconception to blame the victim of cyber smear campaigns of the sort I have been enduring. This is not unlike the attitude towards rape victims that existed before society’s consciousness was raised — the victim must have done something  to “ask’ for it, must be somehow deeply flawed, so the mythology goes.

The simple fact of the matter is that I challenge people who most people are too afraid to challenge for fear of being maligned in the way I have been. There is something in me that cannot in all good conscience remain silent when I see abuse occurring that many others seem to have no problem turning a blind eye to, although many privately agree with me.  For this, I have suffered consequences, but nevertheless, I continue because if I can make a difference in the lives of individuals, it is worth it to me.  The posters seem to feel that they are retaliating against my critical blogs, which they have characterized as “hate” websites. It appears that somewhere in their education, they missed learning to distinguish between expressing concerns about mental health practices that lack evidence to support claims being made on on hand and personal attacks and malicious lies, on the other hand.

Recently, the Russian Commissioner of Children’s Rights is raising similar issues my much-maligned colleagues and I have been raising, with regard to the unsupported beliefs of certain mental health professionals about internationally adopted children, especially children adopted from Russia who have been victims of serious abuse and in some cases, have died at the hands of their abusive parents while these adoption “experts” have testified in a way that blames the victims and gets the abusive parents off the hook or at least lessens their conviction. 

It should go without saying that decent, ethical professionals who are offering valid therapies are able to provide sound support for what they are doing and hence, have no need to attack their critics in this manner.

Here is a quote that seems appropriate to this situation: 

To date, 48 of my professional colleagues, whose names appear below the statement,  have signed the following statement of support. I thank and extend my deepest appreciation to each of them for their support and having the courage to take a stand with me on the important issues involving our professions that are at stake. If any prospective employers are reading this, I am more than willing to answer any questions you might have and address any and all concerns and provide you with the names and contact information for references who I have actually worked with who will put the lies about me to rest, once and for all. Here is the statement of support my colleagues have signed.

Statement of Support for Dr. Monica Pignotti [May 2011]

For the past two years, Dr. Monica Pignotti has been subjected to an ongoing and concerted internet smear campaign in response to her peer-reviewed and internet writings on potentially harmful therapy practices, particularly attachment and other similar therapies involving coercive restraint of children. The postings have mostly been made by anonymous and presumably pseudonymous posters on blogs, public newsgroups, and other internet websites. These statements have often been malicious, false, and even profane, and have included not only Dr. Pignotti but also some of her colleagues and supporters (see http://phtherapies.wordpress.com and http://monicapignotti.wordpress.com).

Although the posters are, to date, unidentified and unidentifiable, it is clear from their content that they are one or more individuals who are upset by Dr. Pignotti’s criticisms of certain interventions directed at vulnerable children, such as internationally adopted children with serious developmental disabilities and/or behavior problems. Rather than take the high road and address the substantive criticisms raised by Dr. Pignotti and her co-authors, the anonymous posters have elected to take the low road and personally attack and malign the critics.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose the cowardly and unethical behaviors of the internet posters, and strongly affirm Dr. Pignotti’s right to raise legitimate criticisms of their therapeutic practices without fear of false and defamatory attacks. Criticism of therapeutic practices that lack empirical support and may be harmful is vital for the profession and we are deeply concerned that smear campaigns could discourage others from engaging in public scrutiny of these and other practices. We call on the internet posters to stop such practices immediately. We further call on the posters to publicly identify themselves and to voice their criticisms in the form of clear descriptions of their concerns, using recognized venues such as peer-reviewed articles rather than in the form of baseless personal attacks.  Additionally, we ask that any prospective employers of Dr. Pignotti not allow the actions of these posters and the fact she has chosen not to remain silent, to impact their hiring decisions.

Signed:

Scott O. Lilienfeld, PhD, Professor of Psychology (Clinical), Emory University

Eileen Gambrill, PhD, Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Thyer, LCSW, BCBA, PhD, Professor of Social Work, Florida State University

J. Michael Bailey, Professor Northwestern University

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Evelyn Behar, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Carolyn Black Becker, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio

Stephen T. Black, Ph.D., Ph.D, Social & Clinical Psychologist

Richard R. Bootzin, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

Lynn Brandsma, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Chestnut Hill College

Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine

James C. Coyne, PhD., Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Professor of Health Psychology, University of Groningen

Bella DePaulo, PhD

Benjamin Emmert-Aronson, M.A., Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, Boston University

Wayne C. Evens, MSW, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Program Director, 1501 West Bradley Ave., Peoria, IL 61625

Trudy Festinger, DSW, Professor of Social Work, New York University

Howard N. Garb, YC 03, USAF, Ph.D., Chief, Psychology Research Service

Associate Editor, Military Psychology , 559 AMDS/SGPL, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX  [Please Note: Does not represent an endorsement by or the views of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.]

Brandon Gaudiano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Research), Alpert Medical School of Brown University

James Herbert, PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University

D. Lynn Jackson, Ph.D., LCSW (FL), ACSW, Assistant Professor/ Field Coordinator, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work and Addictions, 1155 Union Circle #311456, University of North Texas, Denton, TX  76203-1456

Robert K. Klepac, Ph.D., Psychology Training Director Emeritus, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Research Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio

Steven R. Lawyer, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Idaho State University

Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Bryn Mawr College, 300 Airdale Rd., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA

Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Psychology & Social Behavior Criminology, Law & Society Cognitive Sciences School of Law, University of California, Irvine, 2393 Social Ecology II, Irvine, Calif. 92697-7080  USA

Jeffrey M. Lohr, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas

Steven Jay Lynn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, SUNY Binghamton

Robin MacFarlane, PhD

Richard J. McNally, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Cathleen Mann, PhD, Independent Practice

Jean Mercer, PhD, Professor Emerita, Richard Stockton College

Michael B. Miller, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.E., Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, email: mbmiller@umn.edu, phone: 612-564-5364

Randal S. Pennington, PsyD, Training Director, Wasatch Mental Health, Provo, Utah

Brady J. Phelps, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, South Dakota State University

Ken Ruggiero, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina

Susan Kiss Sarnoff, DSW, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Department of Social Work

Sally Satel, MD, American Enterprise Institute

Lee Sechrest, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

Ian R. Sharp, Ph.D., Clinical Scientist and Senior Trainer, Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry

Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Director, Community/Clinical Graduate Training Program,  University of South Carolina

Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Social Psychologist, Author, Lecturer

George Tremblay, Ph.D., Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch University New England

Timothy R. Tumlin, Ph.D., Independent Practice, Darien, Illinois

Kristin von Ranson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology (Clinical), University of Calgary

Hollida Wakefield, M.A. Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice, Northfield, MN 55057

Robert L. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon

Robert W. Wildblood, Phd, Retired Associate Professor of Psychology, Licensed Applied Psychologist in Virginia, Licensed HSPP in Indiana

Alexander Williams, M.A., Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, University of Kansas

It has come to my attention that the misinformation about this case is being repeated.

To set the record straight, click here for a link to the entire dismissal document which people can read to get the full context for this case, to read exactly what the judge, the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee stated in his ruling in the March 4, 2011 dismissal hearing when he dismissed Dr. Ronald Federici’s case against multiple defendants. This is a prime example of why it has been said that the transcriber has the most important job in the courtroom, so that there is an objective record of what occurred that cannot be distorted later. Contrary to assertions by Dr. Federici that he was “designated an international public figure”, the transcript shows there was no such declaration. The transcript (quoted below) clearly shows that judge declined to rule on whether Dr. Federici was a public figure because he dismissed the case on other grounds (jurisdiction and for Pignotti & Mercer, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted – our words did not quality as defamation and Federici failed to demonstrate any conspiracy or tortious interference). He did not “declare” Federici a public figure, nor did he declare any of his colleagues as public figures, as they were completely irrelevant to this case. As the quotations I will reproduce below explicitly demonstrate, the judge was very clear that my comments, contrary to Federici’s repeated insistent assertions, did not constitute defamation. Here are some relevant quotes from the judge’s ruling, where he pointed out multiple deficiencies in Federici’s complaint:

Let me say at the outset that the complaint suffers from several deficiencies. The first is group pleading, and we really can’t tell what allegations are made against each individual defendant. And that is a problem that the whole complaint suffers from. And because of that, it is really not clear what the plaintiff asserts each defendant did and when and what false statements were made that are libelous, what was the statement, what was the date of it.

and

With respect to conspiracy, there’s not enough here in terms of facts to demonstrate a conspiracy. And again, the fact that the plaintiff here is engaged in group pleading makes it impossible to tell what agreement plaintiff claims was entered into by which defendants at what time to do what against Dr. Federici.

The fact that they all have criticized Dr. Federici does not mean they’ve entered into an agreement sufficient to support a claim for conspiracy.

and here’s why he granted the motion of Pignotti and Mercer to dismiss for failure to state a claim:

 The defamation claim, there’s a motion to dismiss filed by Pignotti and Mercer that does not state a claim for defamation or tortious interference with contract rights or business expectancy.

I’m going to grant that motion for several reasons. First of all, as it relates to the statements themselves, I do not think that plaintiff has set forth sufficient facts connecting Mercer with any actionable statements.

And as it relates to Pignotti, I do not think that plaintiff has set forth sufficient facts to demonstrate a claim that would meet the requirements of libel underVirginia law and the Chapin versus Knight-Ridder case.

The words specifically claimed are not set forth. They’re not set forth with any specificity. The dates are not set forth. They’re insufficient to state a claim. And looking at them as a matter of substance, some of them — Exhibit H, appears to be Dr. Pignotti responding what she believes to be actions taken by Dr. Federici on her website. These matters would not be –they would be opinion. They would not be sufficient to state a claim for libel.

And here is where he declined to rule on the public figure issue (contrary to what Federici has repeatedly asserted, he was not “declared” a public figure by Judge Lee, nor were any of his colleagues, who are irrelevant to this case although Judge Lee does point out that the possibility exists beause he advertises on the internet and TV – he made no evaluation about whether or not he was a valid expert since that would not be relevant and the case was dismissed on other grounds):

And I think without making a judgment now that plaintiff’s counsel would have to agree that there’s a question here to be decided at some point, maybe not today, about whether or not — what standard would apply to plead a libel or slander against Dr. Federici and whether or not he’s a public figure or limited public figure given that he advertises on the Internet and on television and all these others.

But I don’t have to decide that now. But if that issue were to come up, it does appear that there would be some challenge presented to Dr. Federici to credibly assert he’s not a public figure or at least a limited public figure.

I’m going to grant the motion to dismiss as it relates to tortious interference with contract rights and expectancy because he’s not proffered sufficient facts to demonstrate that Mercer or Pignotti intentionally interfered with any contracts.

The fact that he is a practicing psychologist does not in and of itself give notice to anyone else that he has contracts with particular clients or that he communicated with those particular clients. And the complaint as set forth alleges that two — I believe it was two potential clients canceled their appointments because of things that they read on the internet, not necessarily matters that were set forth by Dr. Pignotti or Dr. Mercer.

And finally, with respect to conspiracy to injure in trade business reputation under 18.2499, this complaint does not come close to meeting the requirements of Ashcroft versus Iqbal in terms of setting forth facts that plead conspiracy in more than just conclusory terms. So for those reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted for the reasons just stated.

So there you have it. These are the reasons the case was dismissed, as stated in the public record. Not all the twisting and shouting and attempts to resurrect ancient history by Dr. Federici, Ms. Heather Forbes and their supporters is going to change that. Not all the ranting about irrelevant voting machine cases and a 35+ year ago involvement I had in Scientology that I have long since repudiated and misportrayals of Jean Mercer’s blogging (she was not “fired” by Psychology Today – she quit after they forbade her to write about Federici because they failed to show up in court when he sued them and he won by default, although he lost against Mercer, who did show up and successfully defended herself and continues to blog about him), are going to obfuscate this public record of what transpired. That being said, Psychology Today never hired Jean Mercer for pay in the first place, hence the term “fired” is completely moot.

I have not defamed Dr. Federici. I have exercised my Constitutional right to express my criticisms and sincerely held concerns about his interventions as described in his self-published book and media appearances. And no, challenging authoritarian, non-empirically supported practices and refusing to fall into lock step with self-proclaimed “experts” who make claims in self-published books and promote themselves via testimonials is not “hate” speech. It is done out of a caring and concern for mental health clients who licensed mental health professionals are there to serve. Expression of such opinions does not constitute defamation, nor does it constitute interference with business, nor does the fact that the defendants agree with one another about this, constitute conspiracy. Instead of responding to the substance of my concerns, he continues to choose to attempt to resurrect irrelevant ancient history and engage in personal attacks. People can judge for themselves what that may indicate. Where is the evidence that prone restraints and the intervention he promotes is safe and effective? When and where specifically did he train in the administration of the restraint procedure he recommends? More authority-based assertions that his holds are completely safe just do not cut it, in my opinion, especially after so much of the published literature I have consulted on the dangers of prone restraint, even when administered correctly. Even the literature I consulted that is in favor of prone restraints, outlines very strict precautions that must be in place and checks and balances, monitoring, record keeping and safety equipment (e.g. resuscitation) that would not be difficult, if not impossible to have in a private home. At best, prone restraint is a highly controversial procedure that I have every right to express my opinions on. These are very real issues and substantive response does not appear to be forthcoming. Instead the ad hominem (personal) attacks on critics continue.

I would be more than happy to put this matter to rest and never mention it again, but since the anonymous WordPress bloggers and others are continuing to post and repost misportrayals of what occurred, I will defend myself, as I have the right to, by posting public records. Bottom line: Keep posting misportrayals of what occurred and I will keep reposting links to and quotes from the actual public records from this and possibly other cases.

Since there seems to be some interest in when the book, Science and Pseudoscience in Social Work, that I am co-authoring with Bruce Thyer is going to be published, here is an update. My coauthor has a very demanding schedule, so we have had to move up our due dates.  However, we are now in the process of working on our final edits and revisions and hope to have this completed and to the publisher by sometime this summer. At that time, it is up to the publisher when the book goes to press, but we are hoping for the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Unlike self-published books which can be dashed off quickly without any kind of review and can go to press in a matter of months, it is not at all unusual for an academic, peer reviewed book, as ours is, to take a number of years to go through the process of reviews, revision and finally, publication.

A well-known propaganda tactic is to repeat lies. However, not all the repetitions in the world will change the facts of reality. A lie is still a lie, no matter how often it is repeated.  The anonymous smear campaigners have given us repeated examples of this.

Another propaganda tactic is to selectively report events from a person’s distant past. Dr. Ronald Federici has done us the honor of providing an example of this tactic in action, now repeated on blogs, when he attempts to resurrect ancient history by launching ad hominem attacks on critics rather than responding to the substance of their concerns (e.g. questioning the highly controversial recommendation of prone restraint on children and asking where and when he trained in the use of such procedures, for example). Long-ago dismissed voting machine cases I had zero involvement in and practices I have long ago left, repudiated and now am a known critic of, are irrelevant. Thank you, Dr. Federici.

Of course, the fallacy in this is that first all, I have never expected or encouraged people to believe something simply because I say so. What I have done is presented a number of references of research-based opinions from organizations such as SAMHSA and white papers on prone restraint (written by people who have never had anything whatsoever to do with voting machine cases or Scientology) that people can read and form their own opinions.  Federici’s response appears to be, in essence, the ad hominem, who would believe a former Scientologist? That’s no problem because I am not asking people to believe anything just because I said so. Moreover, the expressions of my views have nothing to do with being a former Scientologist (in fact I left and fully repudiated Scientology over 35 years ag0). My education, including my PhD, my training in evidence-based practice and 20 peer reviewed publications are evidence that I am qualified to evaluate the evidence behind claims, but even so, I would never expect anyone to simply believe something because I said so. I invite people to look at the references and links to articles in my postings which contain evidence to back my opinions up and make their own decisions.

Well, actually what I wrote in the title is not possible since these are malicious smear campaigners who appear to lack any kind of conscience whatsoever when it comes to posting fabrications about me, but the purpose of this posting is to set the record straight and provide any readers who are unaware, with the facts about how often rape is not reported to police. The anonymous smear posters are now demanding documents including a police report for an incident that occurred nearly 40 years ago where I was raped while I was in Scientology. At first they were ignorantly misportraying this as a new revelation on my part. When I proved them wrong and pointed out I had written about this in 1989, they just brazenly moved on to more smears, which has been their usual and all too predictable practice. When I expose the lies or their ignorance, they just move on to something else hoping people will forget they have been exposed, typical behavior for a pathological liar.

Most shamefully, the smear campaigners are now misportraying my sexual victimization that I had therapy 22 years ago to address, as “sexual escapades”. No, rape is not a “sexual escapade” and their attempts to portray it as such only demonstrates how low the smear campaigners have sunk, accompanied by their disgusting fabrications about me. I was in therapy 22 years ago to deal with a rape, not “sexual escapades”.

Additionally, the reason I didn’t report it was not, contrary to the ignorant postings of the smear campaigners, because I had some kind of “OT” Scientology beliefs. At the time this occurred, I had not reached any advanced Scientology levels and even if I had, Scientologists do not believe they can literally turn back time and make things not happen. The term “erasure” refers to removal of the emotional charge from traumatic events, not literally wiping out the event itself and as for OT superpowers, that is only claimed for the ultimate OT level, which at the time I was in Scientology no one had reached. So no, I never had any beliefs that I held such superpowers. The claimed end phenomenon for the level I did reach was simply, “return of full self-determinism”, not any supernatural powers but at that time, I hadn’t even reached that yet. The reasons I did not report the rape to police were much more mundane and rather common for women in those days who were raped by someone they voluntarily went with.

These latest smear postings demanding proof for a rape that occurred nearly 40 years ago that I shared in a personal account of my experience, indicate a very antiquated awareness of the statistics on rape victims, especially those that occurred that long ago. The fact is that the vast majority of rapes are never reported to the police. Even today, 60% of rapes are not reported to police. This was especially so in the early 1970s when it wasn’t even considered rape if the woman voluntarily went into a room with a man. Actually that kind of rape was very common in those days. Thankfully nowadays for most people, consciousness on this topic has been raised and rape is rape, regardless of whether the woman initially went voluntarily somewhere with a man, although it seems that even in this day and age, some people have yet to learn this.

In my case, I did not report the rape because in those days, my report probably would have been dismissed. He could have claimed it was consensual and it would have been my word against his and in fact, for years I blamed myself for this until in the late 1980s, I had therapy and my therapist helped me to understand that this incident did, indeed qualify as rape. When I finally told my therapist about this during the late 1980s, I saw tears come to her eyes and she said, “You were an innocent. This was not your fault”. That was so true. I was a sheltered, very naive 19 year old who actually believed the guy was going to help get me a legitimate acting job in the movies and I went with him, believing the myth that people could get “discovered” in that way. One of the nasty postings called me a “professional victim”. No, disclosing this does not make me a “professional victim”. For one thing, I have never been paid for having been a victim of rape. I have noticed, however, that “professional victim” is a phrase that people who wish to intimidate victims from speaking out and blame victims, just love to use. Rest assured, it will not have that impact on me. Calling me by that name will only make my voice grow louder to demonstrate that I will not be shouted down on this or on any other topic I feel it is important to speak out on.

So no, I did not report the incident when it happened because like many woman in those days, at the time, I blamed myself for going with him in the first place and did not view it as a rape at the time. I actually shared this with a few other Scientologists at the time and they too blamed me, the victim, for falling for the scam (quite ironic, since we had all fallen for Scientology). It was my therapist, years later after I had been out of Scientology for 13 years, who made me aware that this was rape.  It was then, that I chose to write about it in that affidavit of 1989 and until now, no one has had the indecency to attempt to shame me for this in any way. Therapy taught me not to blame myself and not all the internet smear campaigns in the world are going to shame me or break me.

Another statistic to be aware of is that about 50% of rape victims experience PTSD. That is a higher rate than veterans of war. However, I am in the fortunate 50% that did not develop PTSD. My therapy was mainly cognitive restructuring, meaning the therapist challenging my erroneous beliefs about the experience, such as blaming myself and this approach worked well for me. Even though I did not have PTSD, I did have residual feelings of self-blame and that is what therapy helped me to overcome. In the cases of people who are suffering from PTSD, however, they may need to have a therapy known as prolonged exposure therapy, which is a very well-supported therapy for PTSD, shown to be highly effective for people who have been traumatized by rape. Fortunately, there is help available and there are many compassionate, competent, caring and ethical therapists who can offer such help for PTSD or any other residual effects of trauma.

Every time I think the anonymous cyber smear campaigners cannot sink lower, they do. This attacking me for a rape that I wrote about that occurred nearly 40 years ago is indeed a new low, even for them.

So no, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and anonymous cyber smear campaigners have no right to demand such proof. Their using this incident that I wrote about 22 years ago, to smear me makes them, not me, look very bad and a number of people have their own opinions as to who the circumstantial evidence indicates is behind all this. In any case, their ignorance on this topic is beyond belief.

Go here for some education on the topic.

60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years.2 Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

Convictions

And this is 2011. In 1972, things were far worse.

Apparently the anonymous cyber smear campaigners are incapable of distinguishing what requires proof and what does not. Contrary to the recent straw man arguments being put forth by the anonymous smear campaigners, I have never, ever claimed that my PhD makes me immune to needing to prove things. If I was delivering interventions to children, I would indeed need to produce evidence to support what I was doing. However, they fail to make the distinction between what kinds of claims require proof and which do not. My claims about my own experiences in the distant past, are not provable and my inability to produce “documents” does not harm anyone.  No decent person would ever expect or demand proof of this.

This is very different from people such as Ronald Federici who are recommending interventions for internationally adopted children that recommend the use of prone restraint, which have no randomized controlled clinical trials to demonstrate their safety and efficacy. This is not a double standard. If Ronald Federici had chosen to write about personal experiences he had in the 1970s, I would not demand proof. If some associate of Federici’s was involved in a court case in the 1990s, I would not demand that he prove anything about it. What I do demand proof for is the claims he makes about his interventions for children.If I were delivering such interventions, I would also be obligated to provide evidence for them.

The anonymous posters attempt to equate apples and oranges. Needless to say, making unsupported claims about interventions being used on children is very different from making a claim about a personal experience that occurred nearly 40 years ago.  I am also not responsible to produce “evidence” for the postings of anonymous survivors of holding therapy, as that was never my blog, nor am I responsible to produce evidence involving long ago concluded voting machine cases that I had no involvement in whatsoever. Their attempt to equate these things fools no one but the true believers who attack me.

Moreover, anonymous cowards who use their anonymity to post malicious lies, have no right to make any demands of someone such as myself, who has always posted using my real name. If the anonymous cyber smear campaigners want to ask me something, let them reveal their identity first. I don’t respond to anonymous abusers, who have no intention other than twisting my words to attack me further, nor do I have anything to prove to them.

I will, however, continue to demand proof from mental health professionals who are offering interventions for their clients that appear to be lacking in evidence and I would hold myself to that same standard, for any interventions I recommend to others. If the anonymous smear campaigners think my social work colleagues would in any way be sympathetic to their disgusting behavior of attacking someone who shared a highly personal experience of having been raped at the age of 19, they really don’t know the social work profession, as any decent social worker will be appalled at such postings attacking me for sharing an experience about having been raped. Actually, one Dean of a prominent school of social work, when I told her about some of the earlier postings, attempting to reassure me, let me know that no rational person would believe a word these anonymous smear campaigners wrote about me.

So keep it up, cyber smear campaigners. You only make yourselves and your gurus look very, very bad when you attack someone for sharing a personal experience of a rape, very different from making a claim about an intervention.

To the cyber smear campaigners: If you think you are going to break me down in any way emotionally by posting about this, think again. I had therapy for this issue more than 20 years ago and since that time have become a highly empowered survivor who will not be broken, nor will I back down in my activism against harmful practices with children. Attacks such as this only show your appalling ignorance on the topic.

Now, back to the topic at hand, where is the evidence that the interventions that Ronald Federici promotes for children, are safe and effective? No matter how many lies his followers post about me and no matter how hard they try to deflect from this topic by posting lies about me and irrelevant nonsense about voting machine cases I had no involvement in whatsoever, I will continue to ask that question, as I will continue to ask for evidence to support the claims of a number of other mental health professionals who are making claims on the internet and else where that lack proper evidence (i.e. studies published in peer reviewed journals) to support them. Every time lies and ugly smears are posted about me, I will bring the discussion back to the topic at hand, which is the reason why I am currently the target of this smear campaign. I have challenged therapy gurus who have followers who obviously do not like to have their unsupported claims challenged.

As detailed in the lead article on this blog, I have been the target of an ongoing internet smear campaign for the past two and a half years, which has included the posting of highly defamatory fabrications about my life and career by individuals who are upset by my expression of concern and criticisms of the claims being made by proponents of certain mental health interventions.  The purpose of this posting is to set the record straight regarding my relationship with Florida State University (FSU). Here are the facts:

  • I attended FSU from 2006 to 2009 as a PhD Student/PhD Candidate..
  • I graduated from FSU with a PhD in 2009.
  • While I was a PhD candidate I was a teaching assistant and also independently taught courses at the College of Social Work to undergraduates.
  • All PhD Social Work Students and Candidates at FSU are paid a set amount every year for their first three years (at the time I was there, it was $12,000 per year, although it may be more currently). In exchange, the student is a research assistant for the first two years and teaches during the third year and in some cases later years for as long as they are a student/candidate.
  • All of my teaching at FSU was done under the above arrangement. I only taught as a PhD Candidate.
  • FSU Social Work has a policy against hiring their own PhD students as tenure track faculty and since priority for non-tenure track is given to existing students, once someone graduates, they do not teach at FSU, not because they were ‘fired’ but because that is the arrangement.
  • I have not been “fired” from FSU.
  • No student ever complained about my teaching. Since FSU is very diligent about giving their instructors feedback, they definitely would have let me know if anyone had.
  • I received acceptable teaching evaluations. Several students commented that they found me highly approachable, easy to talk to, kind, tolerant and open minded. One of the questions on the evaluation asked if the instructor was arrogant and 0% (none) of my students agreed with that statement (I mention this because the lie has repeatedly been posted that my students found me arrogant and dogmatic when precisely the opposite was the case).
  • I never, at any time, was involved in any kind of sexual misconduct whatsoever.
  • I never, at any time made any derogatory remarks about faculty, students or anyone else at FSU.
  • I left FSU in good standing in every way.
  • Since graduating from FSU, I have delivered a number of guest lectures to both Graduate and Undergraduate social work students at FSU, the most recent being two in October 2011. These were lectures that I was invited to give, something that obviously would not have been possible, had I been “fired”.
  • To anyone with a legitimate reason, I can provide references of people I actually worked with at FSU who can verify all of the above.

The following falsehoods have been posted about me and FSU:

  • The lie that I flunked out of FSU. Click here for proof that I graduated.
  • After I presented irrefutable proof from the FSU website that I did, in fact, graduate, the lie was posted that I was allowed to graduate only because FSU was afraid I would sue them. This is ludicrous defamation, not only against me, but also FSU. FSU would never allow someone to graduate out of fear of lawsuit. In fact, PhD students and candidates are evaluated on a yearly basis and FSU has not hesitated to dismiss PhD students or candidates who were not performing up to par. I passed all my evaluations, fulfilled all the requirements ahead of schedule and was the first in my particular cohort to graduate. My transcript, which I will provide to anyone with a legitimate reason for needing to see it, demonstrates that I fully and honestly met all the requirements, including a 3.9 GPA and passing my preliminary examination and dissertation.
  • The additional lie was posted that I graduated and then was “fired”. Again, this is false. All of the teaching I did at FSU was as a PhD candidate. I held no other position at FSU because, as I mentioned above, they have a policy against hiring their own graduates in tenure track positions and give priority to their candidates for all the others, so there are no open slots for graduates to teach there. The fact, verifiable via my references, is that I left FSU in good standing in every way.

The following absurd fabrications were posted about me and FSU. Although absurd and unlikely to be believed, I want to state them here, for the record, just to demonstrate how sick and ugly this smear campaign has gotten. I am not mentioning the names of the faculty members because I do not want to add to the way in which their names have already been denigrated.

  • The lie that I called a faculty member a “bag lady”. I would never call anyone by such a derogatory name.
  • The lie that I denigrated a faculty member for wearing sexy clothing and called her a “tramp”. Again, an absurd lie.
  • The lie that I propositioned two faculty members who are a married couple and that they reported me and had me fired for “voyeurism”. I was not fired and this is a complete fabrication.
  • The lie that I called for the end to the College of Education and that their dean asked to have me “fired”. On the contrary, I hold a certificate in statistics and measurement from the FSU College of Education and have never said anything negative about them.
  • The lie that I “wasted class time” talking about my experiences in Scientology and “time travel”. I have never discussed my experiences in Scientology with any of my classes, nor have I discussed “time travel”.  The only time I have discussed Scientology at all is when I presented some scholarly qualitative research that was done on it, which was a relevant topic of the course being taught.
  • I have also been denigrated by smear campaigners for talking about Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Since I have published research and other peer reviewed articles on TFT, this is a legitimate topic and in fact, I have been invited by faculty members to guest lecture to their classes on TFT and present the research I published in a peer reviewed journal, a controlled study showing no difference between TFT Voice Technology (VT) and a sham VT control group. I also was a guest lecturer, by invitation, to a group of PhD psychology students at SUNY Binghamton. Again, this was all by invitation by people who obviously found my work in that area of enough value to their students to want me to speak to them on that topic and I obliged them. The feedback I received on my presentations was very positive.
  • That I “wasted class time” talking about “being single”. Although I have done no such thing, what I have done is spent time presenting on discrimination and stigmatization against people who are single. Again, I have published research on this topic in a top ranked social work journal. This is a legitimate topic, given that diversity is part of the social work curriculum and in fact, I was invited by one of the FSU faculty members to speak to his diversity class on this topic.

These are the facts about my relationship with FSU. If anyone has further questions, I will be glad to address them.

Contrary to more misportrayals, as usual, of my views on that other WordPress blog by saying I am on the “wrong side of a legal debate”, anyone even remotely familiar with my views would immediately recognize that I am completely opposed to the proposed criminal libel law in North Carolina and am very glad to hear it got struck down and agree, it would have been the worst libel law, ever, my worst nightmare when it comes to suppression of internet free speech.  In my prior posting about criminal libel law in Florida, that law is not nearly as sweeping and applies only to very specific forms of speech and was not specifically about the internet, not all internet speech and I never said I was in favor of it. I was simply noting that it existed, leaving the door open for prosecution, should the anonymous posters who are posting obscene lies about me be identified. I was noting that as an item of interest and also noted that I wasn’t even sure if it had been recently enforced, as it appears to be one of those antiquated laws. In Florida, it is also still illegal for unmarried people of the opposite sex who are couples to live together but of course, hundreds of thousands of couples in Florida do and it is not enforced and this obviously outdated law should be taken off the books.

Only someone who is either extremely deficient in thinking skills or who is deliberately attempting to mislead people about my views would conclude I would support such a law. If anyone is on the wrong side of that debate, it would be Ronald S. Federici, who tried (and ultimately failed) to gain jurisdiction over several defendants from out of state in his internet defamation lawsuits, so it would seem to me that the NC proposed law would be right up his alley. Plus, since it would criminalize defamation, it would spear him the expense of having to hire a lawyer, although the disadvantage would be that he’d have to convince the State to press charges, which would be highly unlikely since so far he has been unable to state a claim that was acceptable to the court (e.g. his Federal case against me was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted). Nevertheless, if that law had been in existence in Virginia, Ronald Federici could have gained jurisdiction over all of his defendants, had he been able to state a claim. Go here for documents which show that it is Ronald S. Federici who repeatedly tried to get defendants brought in from out of state so he could sue them for internet defamation, conspiracy and tortious interference. However, a Federal judge put an end to that by overruling the decision of a small claims court judge (Federici also lost the small claims cases against Mercer, Miller and Advocates for Children in Therapy, but the judge in that case had stated that he believed Virginia had jurisdiction over them — however when case law was presented to the Federal judge in his later lawsuit, it was ruled that Virginia does not have jurisdiction over any of the defendants and that the mere fact that people in Virginia read the postings was not sufficient reason for Virginia to have jurisdiction. A law like the one proposed in NC, however, would have changed that).

In any case, I completely agree that the NC law would have completely killed Constitutional rights to free speech and I am adamantly opposed to it and overjoyed that it was defeated. Is that clear enough for you, anonymous cyber smear campaigners? It is well known that I publicly support anti-SLAPP legislation and the kind of law that was proposed in NC could have encouraged all kinds of frivolous lawsuits and had horrific unintended consequences.

What I do think is that something needs to be done about is extreme cases of obviously malicious fabrications being posted on the internet that can wreck a person’s life. Now that is draconian. That is something our Constitution does not guarantee and that, under law, is subject to usually civil defamation statutes. What still needs to be worked out is how to deal with anonymous people on the internet who are getting away with this. The fact that such postings can come from outside the US makes this issue particularly complicated and problematic and I, for one, am not so arrogant as to presume that I have the answer for how to deal with this. There are no easy answers to this and since the internet is still relatively new, this is something that probably won’t be worked out for years. Also, wording of such a law needs to be worked out so that it would clearly distinguish between people who are posting malicious lies designed to wreck a person’s life and people who are exercising their legitimate constitutional rights to free speech by expressing opinions and the facts, as they sincerely understand them.

On the one hand, people do need to remain free to exercise their right to free speech, which includes the right to express opinions, including criticism that people might not like and well documented facts. What free speech does not include, however, is malicious lies and outright fabrications of the sort that have been posted about me, for example, copying a posting from a website, altering it and then putting my name in it, something I recently caught the internet smear campaigners doing, red handed. That is a clear demonstration of malice and deliberately posting falsehoods that would even win a case against a public figure. However, in this particular case, I didn’t even need to go to the law. The website owner, once I presented him/her with the evidence, much to their credit, had the decency to remove the posting. However, he/she didn’t have to and not all website owners would have done so. So thank you, Liars and  Cheaters RS, for being decent and honest human beings. Sadly, not every website owner is and hence, the need for some kind of carefully and clearly worded law, not the proposed and now-defeated NC law.

So yes, the State of North Carolina went way overboard and their proposed legislation, I am very happy to report, was defeated. However, that does not mean that anything should go when it comes to malicious fabrications being posted on the internet. Ultimate, however, I believe the solution lies not with the passage of legislation, which will always have its limitations, but with teaching people to critically evaluate statements that are made, rather than believe everything they read on the internet. Were people capable of doing this, it wouldn’t matter what was posted and Google would have to re-evaluate its search algorithms if it wanted to be credible.

Once again, the anonymous smear campaigners appear incapable of telling the difference between legitimate free speech and malicious defamation.

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