Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Archive for August, 2011

John Knapp, LMSW: Timeline of My Very Limited Contacts With Him

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hearings on a complaint filed by his former client, John Knapp’s license to practice Social Work in New York State has been revoked.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:

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.

Forgery Alert: Forged posting to alt.religion.scientology that I did not post

Since I stopped responding to postings on newsgroups such as alt.religion.scientology, postings are now being forged with my name on them by the internet smear campaigners in an all too obvious effort to get me to respond. This one, signed Monica Pignotti, Doctor of Philosophy, has lies about me in relation to Larry Sarner. Please be advised that if anyone sees postings with my name on them, it is very easy to forge postings to Google groups and that is what is occurring now. Unlike most postings to such newsgroups that stay up forever, this posting is set to expire in three days, an option that is available to those who post to such newsgroups.

Earlier, during the time that Ronald Federici’s case was being prepared against me (which was ultimately fully dismissed) postings were forged in my name that I was offering adoption services when I have never offered any such services, although these postings were not mentioned in his complaint. These too were anonymous and I cannot prove who was behind them, but it appears that someone was making an attempt to make it appear that I was a competitor when in fact I am not and have never had any financial profit from my criticisms of Federici or any of the others. When we pointed out that none of the defendants made any money from our criticism of him, Federici, in his memorandum of opposition to my motion to dismiss also tried to name a psychologist with whom I have no connections whatsoever as a direct competitor of his, even though she lives and works in a different state from Federici and from me and was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He tried to claim that we had a connection, simply because I mentioned her more than once on my blog. No, praising someone’s work on a blog and linking to a podcast does not constitute conspiracy, but at that point he appeared to have been grasping at straws. Ultimately all this failed and the case was fully dismissed.

One way to tell a posting is forged is if you click on my name, you will see that instead of my e-mail address coming up, the e-mail address of an anonymous remailer comes up instead. Regular e-mail addresses can be identified through their IP addresses. Anonymous remailers are e-mail addresses people can be used that cannot be traced via IP addresses and thus the poster cannot be identified. I never use anonymous remailers so if a posting comes up with my name on it that has such a remailer, you can be certain it did not come from me. Some common names for anonymous remailers are Nomen Nescio, George Orwell, Kulin remailer and the one that the posting in question was posted under, which indicates an Australian remailer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the poster is in the country listed.

Once again, this shows how low the smear campaigners are willing to go.

Why I continue to Shine a Bright Light on Cyber Abuse by those who retaliate against my Whistleblowing

As is made evident today, the anonymous WordPress bloggers (the fact they are anonymous and the fact I post using my actual name speaks volumes in terms of who has something to hide) are continuing the smear campaign by attempting to reframe the fact that I update the main posting on this blog “for reasons that remain unclear”. Unclear? This particular time I updated it because someone who appeared barely able to type the words, posted the lie that I had been arrested in the Miami Airport for passing out flyers, when in fact I have never been arrested for anything in my life.  What is most ludicrous about this is that although it would be my Constitutional right to pass out flyers if I so chose and went through the proper channels, I would never choose to be an activist in this way, since that is not the best way to reach large numbers of people. Based on the statistics of this blog, I reach far more people expressing my opinions and well-documented facts that I have sincerely concluded as true, through the internet than I ever could passing out flyers. That being said, newsflash to the cyber smear campaigners: There is something here in the US called freedom of speech. “Hate” speech is a highly subjective term. To the cyber smearers anything that calls into question the practices of their therapy gurus is something they consider “hate speech” but nevertheless, such criticism is perfectly legal, whether done via passing out flyers (which I have no intention of doing), via the internet or through any other venue. Ronald Federici’s recent losses in court against his critics bear testimony to this and that is most likely why we see cyber tantrums being thrown by his supporters and by Federici himself against the former defendants. Again, that is his Constitutional right and people can read it and decide for themselves who makes the most sense.

This is just the latest of a long string of malicious lies posted about me. Come on, now, anonymous bloggers who appear to have several blogs devoted to me (who ironically assert that “no one cares” — you obviously do given the time and energy you have put into these blogs for the past 2+ years). You know good and well what I’m doing, but in any case, here is some clarification for you. I will spell it out. The reason I update this blog is and will continue to do so is for the purpose of shining a very bright light on the ongoing internet smear campaign that includes defamatory lies and malicious fabrications about me as well as my colleagues who have been blowing the whistle on questionable therapies, that have been going on for more than two years now. The smear campaign escalated after justice was served, when a lawsuit against several of us was dismissed by a Federal judge. Most of the postings have been anonymous, but here is one that Ronald Federici has authored. If you are wondering why I am linking to it, read it and you’ll understand, as it gives people an idea of the kind of smears his critics have been subjected to.

I will continue to call the anonymous posters out on the fact that instead responding to my criticisms and the concerns I have expressed about certain therapists (for example, the restraint procedures recommended by Dr. Ronald Federici), the anonymous posters, whoever they may be, who lack the courage to post using their own names, have chosen to take the low road and attack me with lies and outright fabrications. I now have 47 colleagues who are supporting me in standing up to these bullies. See the main posting on this blog for details.

And no, these are not “updates about my career” as has been misportrayed. Contrary to the most recent false statements, I have been quite productive lately in my career, including having another study I first-authored accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal. The updates in this blog, however, are mainly updates on the ongoing cyber smear campaign and defamatory lies that continue to be posted about me. Rest assured, these updates will continue as long as the smear campaign continues, as may be any additional discoveries I make of documents that are public record, which are quite interesting involving other cases that I am contemplating posting or linking to.

By the way, speaking of updates, Advocates for Children in Therapy has also updated their website and has commented on the recent but now-dismissed Ronald Federici lawsuits (they were sued three times) and the ongoing internet smear campaign they have been subjected to, as well as unsuccessful attempts by therapists they criticized to have their website taken down, although the efforts of those therapists at censorship ultimately did not succeed. Go here and here to view the updates. Also see Jean Mercer’s most recent comments on Ronald S. Federici vs. a crowd of critics. Details on my criticisms and concerns are on my other blog, Potentially Harmful Therapies.

PS: The “who cares?” cliche is one of the silliest on the internet. When people truly don’t care, they don’t bother to respond to postings, saying “who cares?” They simply ignore the postings. The “who cares” cliche really means that the person really cares very deeply about what has been posted, enough to denigrate the person by trying to make it seem as if no one cares about them. Very adolescent, although some of the people who post in this manner are well into middle age.  Who cares, the anonymous posters carrying out this smear campaign ask? They obviously care very deeply, enough to sustain a smear campaign that has lasted for more than two years now.

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