Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

UPDATE: As of January 14, 2014, after a lengthy process of investigations and hearings on a complaint filed by his former client, John Knapp’s license to practice Social Work in New York State has been revoked. Click here for further links and details.

Update September 28: As of this afternoon, Knapp appears to have taken down the blogs referred to, so some of these links to the blog in question might no longer work.

Update August 30: John Knapp just made a posting to his own blog with a very misleading heading that I was “120 days on the same subject and still counting”. This implies that I was posting about something for 120 days, which is completely false. What happened is what I described below. I contacted him 120 days ago about a concern I had. We had a discussion about it, which I allowed him to have the last word on, the discussion took place and concluded on one day, May 2. In fact, about 120 days elapsed with no communication between Knapp and myself.  The next communication between us was one John Knapp initiated on August 25, 2011 when he sent me a friend request on Facebook and then on August 26, John posted about his former client and also maligned her by calling her a cyberstalker and maligned me as well. John Knapp claims I have been “cyberstalking” him for the past 22 months. If you believed someone had been cyberstalking you, would you send them a “friend request” on Facebook? John Knapp sent me a friend request on Facebook and then when I sent him a response he did not like, challenging him on why he wanted to be my “friend” after posting the smear piece about me, he accused me of “cyberstalking” him. Either Mr. Knapp has formulated a mighty strange definition of cyberstalking or his accusations are disingenuous and he hoped no one would notice.

Mr. Knapp claims I reopened the “scab”. No, he reopened it on August 25, 2011 when he made the highly derogatory posting about his former client and attacked me. I refuse to stand by and remain silent when I witness what in my opinion is an egregious humiliation of a former client who filed a state board complaint against him and so yes, I did respond to this on August 26, 2011. People can read it for themselves along with the several other postings he has made about us over the past five days and decide if they agree.

Ironically, he posted our entire private e-mail dialogue on his website, which proves what I am maintaining, that we had a completely voluntary discussion, he never once indicated that he considered it harassment or asked me not to contact him and at its conclusion, I dropped it and let him have the last word. That is what he considers “cyberstalking” on my part. Having a dialogue with a colleague and extending him the courtesy of contacting him privately, as the NASW Code of Ethics says to do and I allowed him to have the last word. Go figure. Also observe the attempted double double bind. I would bet that if I had not attempted to contact him privately and instead had gone straight to his board, he would have complained that I did not follow protocol by first attempting to discuss the matter privately. It would seem that from that perspective, I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t, but what the board will look at is the actions of the individual they are investigating, rather than attempts to shift the blame to those who complained.

Here is a description of what happened in May:

John Knapp, LMSW has repeatedly accused me of harassing him for the past year. However, in  consulting my own records from my e-mail and Facebook messages, my contacts with him have been very limited and even my public postings about him are few and far between. Until recently I had not even mentioned his name on any of my blogs and only did so recently to defend myself against his very public attacks on me as well as a former client. Here is some more detail regarding the facts about my very limited contact with John Knapp over the past year.

May 2, 2011

I sent him a private message on Facebook expressing my concerns (go to the above link to read that and the entire dialogue).

My basis for this was a communication I received from Carol Welch (and yes, I recognize this is hearsay, which is why I contacted him privately to check it out and discuss it with him rather than publicly accuse him of anything), which she has more recently publicly discussed, maintaining that Knapp told her in a phone call: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Monica has Borderline Personality Disorder” as well as his posting on a public Facebook page where he appeared to be supporting someone who was grossly maligning me. Knapp denies this, so at this point it is his word against hers. Note that this action is proper and in keeping with the NASW Code of Ethics which says that if a professional has a problem with a colleague, to first try to discuss it with them privately and if that fails, go to their licensing board. The only reason I am making this public now is that both Knapp and Carol have already made this public and John Knapp has falsely accused me of harassing him and I need to post evidence to defend myself.

In response to this communication, Knapp e-mailed me asking for specifics. I let him know that my problem with his was that he appeared to be supporting someone on Facebook who was attacking me, but most importantly what Carol Welch had written me about Knapp’s alleged statement to her about me (Knapp and I only met very briefly at a conference in the mid-1990s and he doesn’t know me at all, much less ever assessed me). I let him know I considered this improper. His response to me was to deny everything and that he wanted to forward all this to Doug Mesner. My response was that at this time, since there was already a board complaint against him by a former client, I would be willing to do nothing for the time being and let that investigation run its course. Knapp also passed along to me some second-hand communication that he claimed to have received from Jim Martin, a mutual acquaintance that I had been helping Carol with her Board complaint. I let him know that this was completely false. I did not even know that she was filing the complaint until after she had already written it up and submitted it. This, in legal terms is what is known as hearsay and not valid evidence and in fact, it is false although helping someone with a Board complaint does not constitute harassment. Knapp had the last word in this exchange.

Note that John Knapp and I had both received hearsay about one another, but we have chosen to deal with it in very different ways. The way I dealt with it was to contact him privately to discuss it and I did not make any of this public until he and the other party did. His way of dealing with the hearsay about me was to very publicly accuse me of internet harassment. I note this in case to demonstrate that these are two very different things, in case someone wants to accuse me of having a double standard.

Until our most recent exchanges of August 25-27, that was the extent of my direct communication with John Knapp over the past year and that completely voluntary exchange that he voluntarily engaged in and never asked me not to contact him, could in no way be considered harassment.

On August 25, 2011, John Knapp sent me the following message on Facebook:

A note you might find interesting:http://www.facebook.com/notes/john-m-knapp-lmsw/brava-megan-singer-for-firing-your-therapistout-loud/249684775064547

He also sent me a “Friend” request.

That same day, he posted an article on his blog, attacking his former client and me, accusing me of harassing him.

In response to the article and his private message to me, I sent him the following private message on Facebook:

I see you have launched a highly defamatory attack on me on your website and you want to be my friend? What’s going on with you, John? And by the way, I am not unemployed. I am self employed. Now that I have informed you of that, if you leave that up, I will consider this an intentional posting of a falsehood on your part.

Although he took this as a legal threat, it was not intended that way. The rest of what happened and our very heated (initially private) exchange that Knapp chose to make public, that followed is described elsewhere and although heated, was in no way harassment and he no way asked me to stop (his attacks on me in this exchange were quite strong) and in fact, encouraged me to keep contacting him. There is a big difference between two people having a conflict via e-mail and harassment. It is only harassment if one party asks the other to stop and that person does not. Knapp at no point asked me to stop. In fact, he repeatedly responded to me. It was not until he blocked me that he indicated he wanted no more contact and I have not contacted him since, nor do I have any intention of ever contacting him again.

Strangely enough, his posting blocking me was also peppered with all kinds of questions my background. This is the same type of straw man issue that the AT crowd has tried to fling at their critics. My background is publicly posted in detail on my CV, should anyone care to examine it. However, my background is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand, which was the public attack Mr. Knapp has launched on his former client. I do happen to have significant clinical experience (which contrary to Knapp’s insinuations has nothing whatsoever to do with Scientology, which I left and fully repudiated 20 years before I obtained my professional credentials and I have never practiced Scientology as a mental health professional and TFT comprised only about 10% of my work with clients at the time I was practicing it and I have not practiced TFT for more than seven years and am, in fact, a highly published critic of TFT). However, it wouldn’t matter if I had no experience whatsoever. The issue, which Knapp appears to be attempting to distract from by shifting the attention to me, is his obscenity-laced public diatribes towards a former client and a colleague. It really doesn’t take any credentials at all to see that this is just plain wrong. The only requirement to be able to discern that is some shred of human decency.

So in the past year, John Knapp and I had two private, completely voluntary exchanges (the second one initiated by him) on two occasions that in no way fit the legal definition of harassment. Hence, Knapp has made another demonstrably false statement against me that I have been harassing him for the past year.

Public postings on the internet do not constitute harassment. However, until my blog posting of August 27, I had not even mentioned his name on any of my blogs that I could find and on that date, did so only to defend myself against his attacks. Knapp chose to post my private communications of August 26-27 to his blog. If people Google our names together, that will be borne out, although free speech permits me to express any opinions about him that I choose to.

The only other posting I could find about him was one I made in 2009 [which was what I was referring to in my communication to him of May 2, 2011) on one of my blogs entitled “Symptom Lists Can Be Powerful Things” where I criticized some material on his website, but did not mention him by name, again, not harassment, not defamatory and only the expression of my opinions and perfectly legitimate. There were also some discussions about this posting and Knapp’s work that Knapp himself participated in, on a list serv that I run, Anticult Controversies, but again, those discussions occurred over two years ago and Knapp was on the list, at my invitation which he accepted. No communication was begin forced upon him and in no way could this be construed as harassment.

So those are the facts, which soundly refute John Knapp’s accusations that I have been harassing him for the past year, which I have shown are demonstrably false. Anyone reading this blog will see that my attention in the past year has been taken up with a number of matters that had nothing to do with Mr. Knapp who I thought of very little until he began his current, very public attacks on me.

I predict the anonymous smear campaigners who are not affiliated with Mr. Knapp as far as I know, who are upset with my criticism about certain adoption therapists, will try to piggyback off of Mr. Knapp’s profanity-laced postings denigrating me. Just watch.

Mr. Knapp has already piggybacked off of them by quoting some of their material about me, including their prediction “when she appears in court, it will be a complete circus” which turned out to be far from the case. Not only did that one not come to pass, but my lawyer went to court and made a very solid argument in my defense, that got the case dismissed. The proceeding was a dignified one in Federal court where I won my motion for dismissal on both the grounds of the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and also jurisdiction, not a circus at all.

The most laughable part of all this is that John Knapp, on his Facebook page, is now asking for an apology from those he has victimized with his public smear campaign after he called his former client a cyberstalker and made statements that, according to that client, are complete fabrications and in my opinion has egregiously violated the NASW Code of Ethics by making public, derogatory remarks about a former client maligning a colleague in a number of obscenity-laced diatribes. Here are some passages that apply:

1.12 Derogatory Language Social workers should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.

and this: 2.01 Respect

(a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.

(b) Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, political belief, mental or physical disability, or any other preference, personal characteristic, or status.

and this: 2.11 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues

(a) Social workers should take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues.

(b) Social workers should be knowledgeable about established policies and procedures for handling concerns about colleagues’ unethical behavior. Social workers should be familiar with national, state, and local procedures for handling ethics complaints. These include policies and procedures created by NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, employers, agencies, and other professional organizations.

(c) Social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to be productive.

(d) When necessary, social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should take action through appropriate formal channels (such as contacting a state licensing board or regulatory body, an NASW committee on inquiry, or other professional ethics committees).

My actions of contacting him were entirely proper and in keeping with (c) above and after that failed, I did (d) and as a result, the NYS board is now in possession of John Knapp’s blog diatribes denigrating his client and colleagues.

And note the passage about dual relationships, which says nothing about there having to be a quid pro quo and note especially the last two sentences:

(c) Social workers should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers should take steps to protect clients and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. (Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to clients in more than  one relationship, whether professional, social, or business. Dual or multiple relationships can occur  simultaneously or consecutively.)

An apology? The irony is rich indeed. Let’s let that state board complaint run its course, see what its outcome is and we’ll see who needs to apologize to whom. Since there is nothing in my activities that even remotely fits the legal definition of cyberstalking or defamation, John Knapp needs to take the time to learn about my history and track record which includes a very recent legal victory in Federal court, getting a case against me dismissed by someone who tried to silence me and failed. Click here for some interesting reading. If Mr. Knapp has even the remotest fantasy that I can be bullied into silence while exercising my very legitimate and constitutional rights to free speech, he has chose the wrong person to try to bully.

Also observe an interesting double standard at play. There are numerous examples of former members and other critics of cult leaders doing much more than I have done in this case, to expose the cult leader and express their opinions. Sometimes this sort of criticism has gone on for decades and I applaud it and completely support the courage of the ex-cult members who blow the whistle. However, when it comes to figures in the anti-cult movement, it seems that such criticism is not acceptable and some behave no differently from cult leaders and try to silence critics with smear campaigns and threats of legal action. It seems that some people hold anti-cult leaders to a very different standard than cult leaders. Sometimes I have great difficulty telling the difference when it comes to the dynamics that I observe at play.

Comments on: "John Knapp, LMSW: Timeline of My Very Limited Contacts With Him" (4)

  1. This is federal law regarding disclosure of client information:
    See 45 CFR 164.512

    (1) Permitted disclosures: Pursuant to process and as otherwise
    required by law. A covered entity may disclose protected health
    information:
    (i) As required by law including laws that require the reporting of
    certain types of wounds or other physical injuries, except for laws
    subject to paragraph (b)(1)(ii) or (c)(1)(i) of this section; or
    (ii) In compliance with and as limited by the relevant requirements
    of:
    (A) A court order or court-ordered warrant, or a subpoena or summons
    issued by a judicial officer;
    (B) A grand jury subpoena; or
    (C) An administrative request, including an administrative subpoena
    or summons, a civil or an authorized investigative demand, or similar
    process authorized under law, provided that:
    (1) The information sought is relevant and material to a legitimate
    law enforcement inquiry;
    (2) The request is specific and limited in scope to the extent
    reasonably practicable in light of the purpose for which the information
    is sought;

    In other words, the client (or patient) owns all confidentiality or privilege and the provider (regardless of whether they are a current or former provider of services) must obtain permission to disclose any information from the client.

  2. […] were devoted exclusively to attacking me, along with his former client and Lema (Lom) Nal — go here to read my rebuttals to some of the falsehoods contained in these postings). It has also come to light that in 1996, […]

  3. Hey Monica,

    Most, if not all, of Knapp’s online diatribes etc. from August and September, 2011, are posted on my blog. I brought them forth in December, 2012, and January, 2013, in a blog series I entitled “For the Record.”

    In the Introduction to that blog series I state why I decided to bring forth those conversations and posts that Knapp had deleted from the online public world which, imo, he did in order to try to whitewash his wrongdoings without any accountability.

    From the Introduction:
    “…I want a trackable record regarding Knapp’s words and actions regarding his Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse (CHSCA), unlike Knapp’s previous mid-1990s organization, The Singer Foundation, on which there is little information. From what has been communicated to me, The Singer Foundation was founded and fell apart in a similar manner as the CHSCA….”

    The Introduction and Table of Contents to the blog series can be found here:

    http://tossandripple.blogspot.com/p/december-2012-over-next-month-or-so-i.html

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