Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Archive for September, 2011

Monica Pignotti and Florida State University: Setting the Record Straight

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.

Misportrayals of my Views on Libel Law

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.

Exposing the Plagiarized and Fabricated “Cheaters” Posting

The purpose of this posting is to state, for the record, what happened. People might wonder why I am bothering to repost this. The reason is that I want to expose the utter depravity of the abuse that has been occurring with regard to this smear campaign. Here is the timeline

On March 4, 2011, Federici v Pignotti et al. was dismissed by a Federal judge.

Within a few days of this dismissal, the anonymous and pseudonymous smear campaign against me, which, with the exception of a few mild postings had been fairly quiet for the duration of this case, resumed in full force. During March, some of the ugliest anonymous postings ever about me appeared on the internet. I am not saying that Federici himself was responsible because I have no direct evidence of any kind linking him to this “cheaters” posting. I am merely stating what occurred. Whether this is a coincidence or not is for the readers to judge. Federici has quite correctly stated that I have angered other people unrelated to him. Although this appears to be the case, such people would not have a reason to stop the blatantly false postings about me during the case and then immediately resume them after its dismissal. Additionally, some of the other internet postings that have smeared me, have at the same time mentioned being upset with my criticisms of Federici. For example, here is a posting that falsely states I was fired from FSU (As my references who have worked with me there will attest, I was not fired, have acceptable teaching evaluations and I left only because I graduated and they don’t hire their own PhD grads in tenure track positions). Note that posting also alleges “She makes irrational statements, including defamatory attacks on the likes of Ronald Federici.”  There are several others like this. Additionally, other people who are angered by my criticisms (e.g. John Knapp) would have no reason to go after people like Jean Mercer, Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner, Charly Miller, etc. who have also been targeted by this internet smear campaign nor praise Federici — Knapp recently stated he has no idea who Federici is.) To me, given the frequent mention of Federici in smear postings against me and others, this would indicate that  via good circumstantial evidence some of the posters are at least supporters of Federici who are angered by my criticisms. Whether Federici himself was involved or encouraged it is unknown, although we can see similarities between the smear campaign and postings in his own name from his own websites, here and here. My opinion.

Getting back to the “cheaters” posting, on March 8, 2011, the following completely fabricated posting about me appeared on a “liars and cheaters” website under the pseudonym, “Steff”.

I’ll try to make a long story about Monica Pignotti as short as possible.

I invited Monica Pignotti, a former friend/coworker to my son’s birthday party at my home. My husband realizes he was unhappy in his marriage to me as well, and they start talking. 3 days later, I find out, get upset, because he wants a divorce out of the blue. He leaves me and moves into a motel, all the while talking to her, Monica Pignotti. They have an affair and then she bails after a little while. He has a nervous breakdown and spills everything to me. I stand by him, I have forgiven him, but we are still getting a divorce. All of this thanks toMonica Pignotti! We are friends because of the kids, and we honestly like, even love each other but we know it won’t work out again.

I am a social worker and so is Monica Pignotti. She is well liked and associates with people outside of work. I mostly stick close to my family. Word has started getting around that Monica Pignotti is a home wrecker, and her friends started confronting me about it, telling me I need to shut my mouth, I’m just causing problems, no good comes out of it, etc. Now I am afraid that I will get into trouble because people will think that I am lying and spreading rumors about Monica Pignotti! Any advice? I dont feel like I should lie for her.

This post was submitted by Steff.

I immediately attempted to have this completely false posting removed, but at the time got no response. It was ludicrous. Not only have I never slept with anyone else’s husband, but the location was said to be New York and I hadn’t even lived in NY for 10+ years and even when I did, never even knew any other social workers with young children who invited me to any child’s birthday parties. The whole thing was a complete fabrication. The comments were the usual nasty ones, typical of the smear campaign and the link to this posting was used as a Google bomb, being posted on numerous postings to the point where it was coming up on the first page of Google searches on my name, for months. Multiple postings occurred falsely stating I was a “home wrecker” “social work sex toy” and all kinds of other completely fabricated nonsense. Some of the postings even stated I was involved in divorce and custody cases, when I have never in my life been involved in any such thing and they also mentioned the defamation case and all the legal bills they speculated I had from it, neglecting to mention it was dismissed. Again, I am merely stating what occurred and it is for the readers to draw their own conclusions about what it means.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I would be the last person in the world to ever be involved with anyone else’s husband, I have only had relationships with single men and having been a victim of rape in the past (and no, contrary to the lies that are being posted about me, this is not a new claim on my part, I wrote about this in a 1989 affidavit which was written about a year after My Nine Lives in Scientology. I hadn’t mentioned it in the earlier report because during that year that elapsed between the two reports, I had been in therapy and was coming to terms with this trauma for the first time — before that I was too ashamed and not psychologically ready to write about it because I had blamed myself, but in therapy I learned not to blame myself, hence I mentioned it in the 1989 report and not the 1988 report). In any case, due to this experience, I am extremely selective about who I get involved with and for the past several years have chosen not to be involved with anyone. I am very happily single and not currently in any kind of sexual/romantic relationship, nor am I actively seeking one.

Contrary to the defamatory smear postings, I did not disclose having been the victim of a rape to “deflect” anything, since the lies about my sex life  are complete ludicrous fabrications. How low can they go? Stay tuned. Just as there is no evidence to support the safety and efficacy of the interventions that they are so upset that I have criticized that they have gone on an obsessive two plus year smear campaign against me, there has never been any evidence whatsoever to support the fabrications about my life and profession. In truth, my sex life has been, by my own choice, virtually nonexistent for the past decade and I have never worked in the adult entertainment industry, hence nothing to deflect. Newsflash to the cyber defamers: Repeating lies does not make them true. The lies about my so-called “promiscuity” can be repeated hundreds of times, but they are still lies.

A few days ago, it occurred to me to do a Google search on some of the key phrases of that offending posting from the “cheaters” website. What immediately came up was another posting, clearly not about me made to a site for moms, entitled “I have to work with a woman who slept with my husband“. Sentences that were quite unique were directly copied from that posting by the cyber smear campaigners and put into the fabricated posting that targeted me on the “cheaters” website.  In the original posting, the alleged other woman was not referred to by name and the people in question were nurses. In the copy posted to the “Cheaters” website, my name was added, the posting was shortened and the profession was changed from “nurse” to “social worker”. Just so people can see the similarities, here is the original posting:

I’ll try to make a long story as short as possible.

I invited a friend/coworker to my son’s birthday party at my home, lets calls her “s”.  S is talking about how she is getting divorced and so on.  My husband realizes he was unhappy in his marriage to me as well, and they start talking.  3 days later, I find out, get upset, because stbx wants a divorce out of the blue. He leaves me and moves into a motel, all the while talking to her.   They have an affair and then she bails after a little while.  (he left 12/13, she left shortly after new years)  He has a nervous breakdown and spills everything to me.  I stand by him, I have forvgiven him, but we are still getting a divorce.  We are friends because of the kids, and we honestly like, even love each other but we know it won’t work out again.

I am a nurse, so is S.  We work on the same floor of the same hospital.  She is well liked and accociates with people outside of work.   I mostly stick close to my family.  I’m friendly at work, but don’t belong in the clique, and that’s how I want to keep it.  I talk to people at work, and they know about my problems, because S ran her mouth about them at work.  People started asking me questions, and seemed generally concerned, so when I started telling them he cheated, they didn’t need me to tell them who with….but they did, and to some, I told.   Word started getting around that S is a home wrecking bitch, and her friends started confronting me about it, telling me I need to shut my mouth, I’m just causing problems, no good comes out of it, etc.    Mind you, I wasn’t holding up a sign or volunteering my story, and it was mostly answering questions when people asked.  I was confronted by her friend who said she doesn’t want to get involved with it.  Then, my good friend at work walked into her running her mouth about it to four other nurses about how I am so terrible for putting S down.  I’m sure S lied about the whole affair to her, and thinks I am just trying to make her look bad, but my stbx husband told me himself, and then I confronted her and she admitted it too!   Now I am afraid that I will get into trouble because people will think that I am lying and spreading rumors!

Any advice?  I dont feel like I should lie for her when people ask me point blank, did S sleep with your hubby?  I guess maybe I’ll just say “Go ask S”, but that probably wouldn’t end well either.

After I presented this evidence to the  “Cheaters” website personnel and asked that the posting be removed since it was obviously copied and false, thankfully, they did remove the posting. I let them know that I realized that legally I could not hold them responsible for the posting, but asked them to remove it, in the name of human decency and I will acknowledge that they displayed such decency and removed the posting. Sometimes asking nicely for postings to be removed does work.

This is yet another demonstration of how far the smear campaigners will go to target me with completely fabricated stories.  I predict there will be much “shouting” about “censorship” now that the offending, highly defamatory posting has been removed. As I mentioned in the previous posting, in Florida, in addition to defamation, such postings may still be considered a crime. Free speech does have its legitimate limits and false postings of this sort definitely do not fall under the domain of free speech. In contrast, what is considered free speech is my right to criticize and express my concerns about certain therapies and therapists. Obviously some people are incapable of telling the difference.

Florida Criminal Libel Statutes

In most states, libel is a civil, not a criminal offense. However, I have just learned that in the State of Florida some forms of libel are considered a criminal offense. Giving all the lies that have been posted online about me, I found this one particularly interesting.

836.04  Defamation.–Whoever speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

I don’t know if this has recently been enforced, but nevertheless, it is still on the books in Florida.

Note that I am not saying that I believe defamation should be criminalized, I am only noting that this is a law that is still on the books, which could leave the door open to criminal prosecution of the smear campaigners who are posting malicious lies about me. I had thought that any person with at least a minimal amount of intelligence could figure that out and it goes without saying, but apparently not, given a recent posting by those other WordPress bloggers on their smear blogs that appear to be devoted to distorting my views. Apparently they are either incapable of telling the difference between is and should or they are deliberately attempting to mislead others.

More searches in the wee hours of the morning

Again, this morning there were more searches on my name connected with obscenities that I won’t mention, but are similar in nature to what I mentioned in my previous posting. Someone appears to be spending an inordinate amount of time doing these searches from either the other side of the world or is staying up very late at night/in the morning to do them.

Why the need to spend so much time doing senseless searches and putting up blogs that appear to be solely devoted to lame attacks on me? It goes with the territory. Apparently there are mental health professionals and their followers who are not willing to tolerate any challenges or expressions of concern about their work and will stop at nothing, including postings that would constitute defamation per se, not understanding that this only makes their therapy gurus look all the worse.

Denigrating internet critics as having an “internet obsession” is quite ironic, when the people in question stay up all night doing the kind of searches that have been done on me. Now come again, who is obsessed? Heal thyself, indeed. Apparently they think they will be able to manipulate critics into saying — oh no! I don’t want people to think I have an internet obsession, so I’d better stop posting. Not a chance. Just look at the voluminous postings of David Gorski on his blogs who posts much more on his blogs than I do, and he does this while holding down a full time tenure track faculty position and hospital job as a surgeon, in spite of efforts of anti vax quacks to get him removed, which failed miserably and a Google search on his name reveals a smear campaign at least as ugly as the one against me.

It is beginning to become a compliment in skeptical and scientific circles to become the target of an internet smear campaign. If the targets weren’t being effective, why would so much effort be put into smear campaigns?

Searches that brought people to this blog this AM

Sometime in the wee hours of this morning, my blog stats indicate the following creepy searches were done in my name, that brought people to this blog, most likely because there are lies regarding these topics that I have posted about here. My comments are in brackets and should help whoever did this search to find what he/she is looking for. In order to keep the content of this blog clean, I have deleted parts of some words that I am sure people can figure out.

monica pignotti s__x life [nobody’s business, but many lies posted on this topic] 1
monica pignotti faculty evaluations[I provide references from faculty who have actually worked with me, to people with a legitimate reason to request them. Go here to read a statement of support from 47 mental health professionals, many quite prominent faculty members] 1
monica pignotti teaching evaluations [again, these were good and I make them available to prospective employers who request to see them.] 1
where is monica pignotti offering s_x [Easily answered in one word: Nowhere] 1
monica pignotti defamation case [This is Ronald S. Federici v Pignotti et al, dismissed by a Federal judge in March 2011 for both failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and jurisdiction. Go here to read documents. Following the dismissal of this case, the smear campaign against me escalated. Contrary to the lies that have been posted, I have not “denounced” my lawyers and in fact, have praised them for their excellent job in successfully defending me.] 1
monica pignotti adoption clinic [I do not, nor have I ever, been involved in any adoption clinic, nor do I plan to. This is a lie that has been posted about me, perhaps to attempt to misportray me as a business competitor when the fact is I have not made any money from my critiques of adoption “experts”] 1
monica pignotti pr__stitute in florida [This is a fabrication by anonymous posters. I have never been a pr_stitute, anywhere, ever. Clearly, I am the one here who is being defamed on the internet and in many states, lies about serious sexual misconduct are considered libel or defamation per se, meaning it is considered so bad, that it would not even be necessary for the plaintiff to prove damages to win a case, were the anonymous posters to be identified and sued. For example, in Virginia, “attributes to the plaintiff the commission of some criminal offense involving moral turpitude, for which the party, if the charge is true, may be indicted and punished” constitutes defamation per se.]

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