Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Advocates for Children in Therapy’

Federici v Pignotti et al: What the Judge Actually Said

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.

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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.

Advocates for Children in Therapy Statement about Ronald Federici’s Lawsuits

Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT), a non-profit advocacy organization, has now made a statement about Ronald Federici’s three attempts to sue them, first in small claims court where he lost against defendants ACT, Jean Mercer and Charly Miller, next in an appeal against those same defendants which he nonsuited and third in a case that was dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge in Eastern District Court of Virginia against those same defendants plus Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner and Monica Pignotti.  ACT also commented on the internet smear campaign. The statement can be read on ACT’s website.

 

 

Federici v Pignotti et al. Dismissal Hearing Transcript Now Available

The full March 4, 2011 dismissal hearing transcript for Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al. is now available via the Citizen Media Law website and can be downloaded by going here.

The transcript shows that the case was dismissed for all named defendants (Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Larry Sarner, Linda Rosa and Advocates for Children in Therapy) on the grounds of jurisdiction and additionally dismissed for Mercer and Pignotti for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Note that contrary to misportrayals elsewhere, this was not a “split decision”. The reason it was granted for only two of the defendants is that we had different legal representation that plead that way. In other words, the other defendants did not ask for the case to be dismissed on failure to state a claim, hence the judge did not consider that, as he did for us. The difference simply reflects different strategies used by different lawyers. All defendants were granted every motion for dismissal they made.]

Regarding this failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the honorable Gerald Bruce Lee stated (p. 32):

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 under Virginia 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.

[Exhibit H refers to the posting I made on my blog regarding the letter Ronald Federici wrote to my Dean. A copy of that posting is available by going here. Although my Dean chose to take no action against me, stating that it was irrelevant to my work at FSU, I chose to respond to and expose what was attempted and express my opinions about this, a right that this Federal judge upheld.]

With regard to conspiracy for all defendants (p. 31):

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 with regard to tortious interference and conspiracy for Pignotti and Mercer (p. 33):

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 dismisswill be granted for the reasons just stated.

Contrary to what was stated by Dr. Federici in a response to internet critics on his website, the judge did not declare him an international public figure but instead, stated that he was not going to rule on that at this time one way or the other, stating (p. 32-33):

And I think 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.

Note that there was nothing said about designating him an “international public figure” nor was any statement made about his colleagues. He appears to have based his statement that Federici could be declared a public figure on his advertising on the internet and television. It is clear from this transcript that the dismissal was not based on his being a public figure because the judge had already dismissed it on other grounds, making the issue of public figure moot where this case is concerned.

This official transcript, now public record provides with an objective record of the proceedings and I would urge anyone interested to read the entire transcript.

After the case was also dismissed for the anonymous “John Doe” defendants on June 1, 2011, this case is now officially concluded.

Federici v Pignotti et al: Officially Terminated for All Defendants Including John Does

As I have previously noted, on March 4, 2011 the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee of Eastern District Court of Virginia, aka the Rocket Docket, granted the Motions to Dismiss filed for all named defendants in Federici v Pignotti et al: Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner and Advocates for Children in Therapy.  The official order was issued on March 28 and 30 days later, the appeal period expired, thus concluding the case for all named defendants.

However, there was one more loose end to tie up: the John Does 1-10. These were the anonymous defendants Federici believed existed. Of course, since they were not named, they were not served and hence, could not file Motions to Dismiss. Thus, on May 11, 2011 the judge issued an order to Plaintiff Ronald Federici to “show cause as to why this civil action as to John Does 1-10 should not be dismissed” and was ordered to respond within 20 days.

20 days later, Domingo Rivera, on behalf of Ronald Federici filed a Motion to Dismiss for the John Does, without prejudice.  The Memorandum stated:

Despite multiple attempts, counsel has been unable to reach Plaintiff regarding the Court’s May 11, 2011 Order. Additionally, due to certain events not directly related to this litigation, counsel does not believe that he can ethically continue representing Plaintiff in any matter, including the instant case. Granting Federici’s Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice will allow Federici to seek alternate representation so that he may later continue to prosecute this matter against the remaining defendants.

Full document can be viewed here:

Memo MTD John Does

What does this mean and why was he unable to be reached? Since the memo gives no reason and events in question “not directly related” were not specified, your guess is as good as mine and anything further I could offer would be only speculation, so I won’t.

What is factually certain is that on June 1, 2011, the judge granted the Motion to Dismiss for the John Does and the case is now officially concluded and terminated for all concerned. The fact it was dismissed without prejudice with regard to the John Does means that he will have the opportunity to refile against the “remaining defendants” meaning the John Does if he should decide to seek “alternate representation” and do so.

My understanding of this is that since the case was dismissed for the named defendants on jurisdiction, any John Does identified would have to be Virginians or individuals who had ties to Virginia which the named defendants did not.

The Dismissal Order for the named defendants on the grounds of jurisdiction for all named defendants and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for Pignotti and Mercer can be viewed here.

Case closed June 1, 2011.

PS: Although geographically very close (Eastern District VA is literally across the river from DC), this wouldn’t have helped me with the VA case, but here is some good news on the anti-SLAPP legislation front. Washington DC has just passed some quite extensive anti-SLAPP legislation.

The new D.C. statute falls on the more protective end of the spectrum of anti-SLAPP laws.  It permits a special motion to strike in lawsuits stemming from acts “in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest,” which includes both petitioning the government and addressing issues of public interest in a public forum.  It also provides a special motion to quash to those whose personal identifying information is being sought via subpoena, should that information be sought in a matter arising from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest.

What we ultimately need to protect everyone in all states is legislation like this at the Federal level. This, however, is a big step forward.

Therapy or Legally Sanctioned Abuse? You Decide

When Ronald Federici sued me in the now-dismissed Federici v Pignotti et al., one of the claims he attempted to make was that the defendants were in a conspiracy and that we were responsible for a blog entitled A Search For Survivors, a blog authored by someone who goes by the name of Wayward Radish (WR). I am not Wayward Radish and I swore in an affidavit that I was not responsible for any of the anonymous postings Federici had complained about, nor, to the best of my knowledge, were any of the other defendants. Fortunately, I  have never been a patient of any of the therapists mentioned on that blog.

A Search for Survivors is the blog of a person who has stated that she is a survivor of attachment and holding therapy, which, as a child, she was subjected to (with another therapist, not Federici)This blog was formerly on WordPress, but reportedly, it is my understanding that Ronald Federici and others filed a DMCA complaint (even though from what I can tell, copyrights were not violated. They did the same for the Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) website, which, contrary to misinformation,  is not associated with Wayward Radish or A Search for Survivors.  Due to the fact that their hosts at the time were not willing to stand up to those who tried to have the websites removed, both WR and ACT found a host that did have the courage to do so, Project DoD and as a result the websites remain up to this day. Details of what transpired with regard to the DMCA complaints can be found in a paper presented at a conference by Christopher Mooney and Tiffany Rad of Project DoD entitled:

The DMCA & ACTA vs. Academic & Professional Research: How Misuse of this
Intellectual Property Legislation Chills Research, Disclosure and Innovation

Here is a link to WR’s account of what happened with WordPress. However, I am not responsible for the content of A Search for Survivors nor the ACT website.

My position on A Search for Survivors has been that these are accounts of survivors, who were subjected to “attachment therapy” as children (not with Federici, with other therapists). The “therapy” was so traumatic for them that some have been under treatment for PTSD that arose from the trauma of having to undergo such “therapy” and I use that word with caution. Recent research reported by SAMHSA has shown that a high percentage of people who experienced being restrained, experienced the event as traumatic. People can view videos of holding therapy and decide for themselves whether this is therapy or legally sanctioned abuse in the name of therapy.

Based on what he attempted to claim in his lawsuit, Federici and his supporters appear to be associating the word “abuse” with illegality. Federici seems to think that because he does not have a criminal record, this makes the use of the word, “abuse” defamatory. However, calling something abusive does not necessarily mean it is illegal. Just to give an unrelated example to clarify this point, many people are opposed to all forms of spanking children and consider it abuse. Yet spanking that does not injure a child is completely legal. Does that mean that anti-spanking proponents are libeling parents who spank children? Of course not and it would be absurd to allege as much. Or consider the recent controversy over hot saucing children (I’m not saying any of the therapists are doing this, just giving this as an example to illustrate my point). Abusive? Many of us definitely think so, but illegal? Probably not, unfortunately.

The so-called “therapies” discussed in WR’s blog are not illegal, yet many are of the opinion that they are abusive. Although they are not currently illegal, some are of the opinion that they should not be legal. Note that the opinion that those therapies should be illegal is not a statement that can be proven true of false. It is a “should” statement which indicates a value judgment, and thus is not subject to legal action.

Some of the videos of holding therapists are available online, so people can watch them and decide whether this is therapy or legally-sanctioned abuse.

Videos of the holds Ronald Federici recommends in his book, Help for the Hopeless Child are not available online. At one time, a segment demonstrating the hold from a Dateline episode was on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet, but they were removed. People who would like to view the prone hold he recommends in his book and on Dateline can, however, purchase a copy of his book from Amazon. Yes, that’s right, I am actually recommending that interested people purchase his book (as I have) because it is important that people obtain accurate information about what his therapy consists of. The holding diagram can also be viewed on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Help-Hopeless-Child-Discussion-Post-Institutionalized/dp/0966710118/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277928109&sr=8-2#reader_0966710118

Search in the book for “SEQUENCE ONE HOLDING” and go to where this phrase appears on page 111.

Anyone can also purchase a DVD copy of the Dateline episode from NBC at 866-622-8273. Additionally, a transcript of a BBC program entitled Taming the Problem Child that featured his work is available online and presents Federici’s views as well as the views of critics such as Peter Fonagy.

I would urge anyone who cares about this issue to order the above materials and form their own opinion of whether they want to consider this therapy or something else and yes, people do have the Constitutional right to hold opinions on these matters and that include the right to criticize and advocate for changes in the existing law. In several states, prone holds or restraints are illegal in residential facilities and/or schools. However, to date, there is no existing law that forbids their use in private therapy practice or use in a client’s home. Does this makes sense, that procedures that are forbidden under highly supervised conditions such as state mental hospitals and schools in some states, ought to be legal for use in settings that are not as highly supervised, if at all? Again, this is something for each person to decide.

As for the accounts on WR’s website, although I cannot necessarily vouch for every statement made on that website, nor do I necessarily agree with every statement that was made, the reported experiences are highly consistent with what has been shown on a number of videos that are available of such interventions, where the therapists in question have demonstrated what they do for all to see. Thus, it is not surprising to me that at least some of the survivors of these treatments, now adults, would come forward and blow the whistle on their therapists and I find many of the accounts to be credible but again, I am not making any claims other than to suggest that readers watch the videotapes themselves and read the testimonials and decide for themselves, whether they find them credible.

Anonymous Poster Responds to Monica Pignotti Statement of Support with More Lies

The anonymous poster has now responded to the Statement of Support for Monica Pignotti.

In this statement, thus far as of May 17, 2011, signed by 47 psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals, reasonable requests were made, that:

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.

The response was all too predictable, although it will be interesting to see whether the individual, if he does decide to harass the universities of the people who signed, will have the courage to put his own name to this or will try to do the harassment anonymously.

[Update: Since this response was received and I passed it along to those who already signed and those who I asked to sign since then, my support is only growing stronger and some of the new signers have provided me with the complete contact info for their affiliation and no one has withdrawn their support, in spite of the fact I fully informed them of this threatening response. Obviously these are people who are not going to allow bullies to intimidate them by threats to tattle to their institutions when they have done nothing wrong.]

I post the response, in full, to demonstrate how malicious this smear campaign has become [my responses are noted in blue].  Nomen Nescio, Latin for “name unknown” is a generic name of an e-mail address that renders the sender anonymous. It hides their IP address, making such e-mails or postings very difficult to trace. Other common generic names under which the smear campaigners have posted include George Orwell and Anne Onime.

From: Nomen Nescio <nob…@dizum.com>
Date: May 8, 11:01 am
Subject: Monica Pignotti: EPIC FAIL
To: alt.religion.scientology

Monica Pignotti has sealed her fate.

There will be NO compliance with the “demands” in the statement on her website.

[Interesting, since what was called for (the word “demand” was not used in the statement) was quite reasonable: For the anonymous posters to identify themselves and rather than attack me, clearly state their actual concerns in recognized venues. Instead, they choose to continue their current smear campaign consisting of red herrings, personal attacks and outright fabrications. The response is that there will be “NO compliance” with our request that they conduct themselves as decent human beings. This says more about them than it does about me or those who signed.]

Many of the signatories to her strident manifesto, such as Bruce Thyer, have vested interests in concealing the truth about her. Efforts to disseminate the TRUTH about her will continue, unabated.

[No “TRUTH” has been concealed about me. I have been more than open about my past, far more than most people are about their activities of their youth and most of what has been posted about me are lies that, if the poster put his name to them (e.g. saying I was fired from FSU when I was not), would likely be actionable in a court of law.]

In addition, the institutions whose faculty members have been foolish enough to sign this document will be contacted and retractions will be demanded. If these people wish to speak out, let them speak on their own.

[It will be interesting to see if this harassment is also conducted anonymously and if so, how universities would respond to “demands” and threats anonymous individuals who are upset because they are being asked to conduct themselves as decent, honest human beings. Whether or not the complainers identify themselves, they are in no position to “demand” anything.]

Some facts about Monica Pignotti:

1) She dropped out of college to join Scientology. She spent years in this crazy cult, and rose to the highest levels, containing scientifically unsound beliefs about alien warlords and the atom bombing of volcanos. While in Scientology, Monica Pignotti became romantically involved with Quentin Hubbard, one of the children of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

[It is no secret that I was involved in Scientology, although I was never “romantically involved” with Quentin although he was an adult when I knew him. What this neglects to mention is that this is ancient history. I left and repudiated Scientology in 1976, 35 years ago, returned to and completed college and eventually went to graduate school and got an MSW and an PhD]

[2) After leaving Scientology, Monica Pignotti became a devotee of Roger Callahan and his bizarre therapies, Thought Field Therapy and Energy Therapy. These systems claim to heal by tapping the body and at the most advanced levels, diagnosis is performed over the phone. Pignotti stopped practicing energy therapy and used her inside knowledge to criticize it.

[That was 20 years after leaving Scientology. Again, this is no secret that I practiced TFT, although the “diagnosis” is not mental health or medical diagnosis. TFT is simply tapping on acupressure points on the body (like acupuncture without the needles — hardly considered “bizarre” and actually acupuncture is accepted in many mainstream hospitals although I have my own criticisms of it). I did not practice “Energy Therapy” and have no idea what it is, nor does Callahan have any therapy by that name. Perhaps the misinformed person is thinking of Energy Psychology, also not Callahan’s but an offshoot of TFT that I never practiced). As for TFT, I stopped practicing it over 7 years ago and many of the people who signed this statement have been aware of this since I left and have given me great support. This will hardly come as news to them.]

3) Pignotti entered academia. She was dismissed from a teaching position at Florida State University (FSU) for several reasons. First, she made obscene sexual propositions to faculty members. Second, many students complained that she wasted classroom time with anecdotes about time travel, Scientology, Roger Callahan, being single, and her dislike of geology.

[This is a libelous statement. If the poster put his name to it, this would be actionable in a court of law, possibly even as libel per se. I was not fired from FSU, nor did I engage in any of the activities mentioned, although I have on a number of occasions been invited to guest lecture classes on the topic of  Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy and pseudoscience and also on discrimination against single people. Those lectures, where I presented my research on TFT and reviewed research on single people, were well received and legitimate and no complaints were made about them and lecturing on those topics certainly would not be grounds for dismissal. I have no idea where the reference to “geology” came from since this is not my area of expertise and have never said I “disliked” it. Anecdotes to illustrate a point are an acceptable and highly encouraged aspect of good teaching. I obtained my PhD from FSU and left only because I graduated and FSU does not hire their own graduates in tenure-track positions. My teaching at FSU was not as a faculty member, but as a PhD candidate to fulfill a yearly stipend I and all PhD students and candidates received the first three years in the program and possibly beyond, but cease upon graduation.]

[4) Monica Pignotti spent several years aligned with a fringe medical group. The head of this group, Larry W. Sarner of Loveland, CO, has bachelor’s degrees in political science and mathematics, and is unqualified to evaluate psychological interventions. Sarner bilked lenders and investors out of several million dollars on a scheme to develop and deploy voting machines. Even though Pignotti, for whatever reason, has parted company with Sarner, she continues to insist that his voting machines worked.

Red herring alert!

[This is a huge distortion and the voting machine part is a red herring. Larry Sarner is Executive Director of a non-profit advocacy organization I was involved with called Advocates for Children in Therapy. I served on their informal professional advisory board for four years. It is not a “medical group” and it would seem that the only people who have taunted the word “fringe” to describe it are proponents of the practices it has exposed (on the contrary the APA-endorsed APSAC Task Force Report cited publications from people in ACT while they advised against the practices ACT criticizes). The impetus for this smear campaign against several people involved in ACT is because we dared to criticize and expose potentially harmful “attachment”, coercive restraint and other similar therapies for children. I have “continued to insist” nothing about voting machines (I made one statement two years ago on a Randi forum which is taken out of context, where I also called them on this red herring, irrelevant to the practices of the therapist we were criticizing). I couldn’t care less about whether they worked or not and I had no involvement in the Sarner voting machine case whatsoever (it was concluded a decade before I even met Mr. Sarner), although based on court documents and docket sheets I have examined, these statements are false, as the cases were all civil, not criminal cases and he was never charged with fraud. The “voting machine” matter is a huge red herring.]

5) Pignotti applied for a position at New York University (NYU). She did not get it. She concocted a fantastic story about how her personal information was compromised, and she demanded that NYU conduct a full investigation.

[I did not “concoct” any fantastic stories. The fact is that although I did not discuss publicly my application for a faculty position, someone, somehow, by some unknown means found out about what should have been kept confidential and posted several times that I applied and then, that I did not get the position, before I received such notification. Lies have been posted about this matter when, in fact, I was considered a qualified applicant and simply did not get it because they decided someone else was a better fit for the position than I was. I have never challenged their decision, which I completely accept,  nor do I intend to. My concerns of how information was leaked, resulting in the obscene postings is a legitimate concern. It is reasonable that applications for faculty positions ought to expect that they will not have the information of their having applied, be publicly posted accompanied by lies about the reasons they did not get the position.]

NYU refused, and has stated, publicly, that they are glad they did not hire her.

[NYU has made no such public statements that I am aware of. If NYU had made any public statements about me of that nature, surely the anonymous posters would have been delighted to link to them or produced documentation, which they have failed to do. Instead, as usual, what we have are unsubstantiated, bald assertions.]

6) Pignotti considered applying for a position at Brigham Young University (BYU) which would have required adherence to the BYU honor code. Pignotti wrote a scathing blog post denouncing the Mormon faith.

[I have not “denounced the Mormon faith”. In fact, since the age of 14, I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I have consistently defended the Mormon faith, even while inactive. Some cult experts such as Steven Hassan consider it a cult and I have defended it as not being a cult and have praised them for their open disclosure of their Honor Code.]

7) Pignotti associates with violent criminals. As an example, Robert Clark, who uses the pseudonym “henri” who has been convicted of making bomb threats against both churches and weather stations.

[I have no association with “violent criminals”. This statement is false on two counts 1) Rob Clark has never been charged with or convicted of any such criminal activity. If he had been, surely the Scientologists would have included documents on their Religious Freedom watch but not even the Scientologists make that claim about him. As I understand it, Clark has since become an attorney and 2) I have no association with Rob Clark whatsoever. The fact that he has been involved in some internet discussions on a public forum I was also on, does not mean I am associated with him. In fact, although he has at times defended me, on several occasions he attacked me.]

So there you have it, folks. The response is brazen as ever. Since no names were even mentioned other than mine in the statement of support and it clearly stated that the posters were unknown, it will be interesting to see what kind of threats the anonymous individuals will make if they do decide to harass those who signed. Will “Nomen Nescio” threaten to sue us all? That would be an interesting case. While “John Does” have been named as defendants, it is difficult to imagine how a “John Doe” or a “Nomen Nescio” could be a plaintiff in a defamation case, which would likely be laughed out of the courtroom.

The anonymous cyber smearers can repeat the lies about me until they are blue in the face but they will still remain lies, no matter how often they are repeated.

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