Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘computer hacking’

Monica Pignotti and NYU: What Really Happened

For more than a year now, the malicious lie has been posted that I was “fired” from Florida State University and declared “unfit to teach”, along with all kinds of other nonsense. As stated previously, this is entirely false and I have references and positive teaching evaluations that prove otherwise. It has become very obvious that someone is very hard at and spending an inordinate amount of time posting falsehoods about me on a regular basis, to try and make sure I do not get a faculty position by posting such lies and hoping the people doing the hiring believe them or perhaps wrongfully blame me as the victim that I must have done something to deserve this. What I did was expose what I consider to be abuse in the name of “therapy” (for example, using outdated prone restraint methods on children with behavior problems rather than empirically supported methods). This is why I am being targeted although 47 of my colleagues have been courageous enough to take a stand with me.

Now, in five separate postings, this lie is being extended to New York University (NYU) [Update May 20: there have now been a number of additional postings falsely asserting that NYU has made a statement that they have not and other false statements about this matter). For example, one posting claims that I was denied a position at NYU because of information that came up on an FOIA request on me for FSU. This is utterly absurd, since the only teaching I did at FSU was as a doctoral student and I only left because I graduated and left in good standing in every way. I was never faculty at FSU in the first place. My teaching was done as a PhD candidate under a stipend that all PHD students/candidates get and do teaching or research in exchange. I graduated and left in good standing and have the references to prove it. Another posting lied that NYU discovered I had a criminal record when the truth, which can be easily verified by a background check is that I have no criminal record whatsoever for anyone to discover, not even so much as a traffic ticket.

Before I go any further, let there be no misunderstanding. Please note that I am in no way intending to blame NYU for what I am about to describe happened nor am I accusing any of their faculty or personnel of anything. The person posting these malicious lies, whoever it is, appears to not have a conscience when it comes to lying and may well be a sociopath. Sociopaths can be very clever and even though I am sure the people at NYU did everything possible to protect the information I sent them, such people can find ways to get around these kinds of setups through no fault of the people concerned. It could have happened to virtually anyone.

Already my cyber stalker is frantically trying to misportray me as spinning conspiracy theories. No, I am not. The fact is that when a person applies for a job, their application is supposed to be kept confidential and in my case, the confidentiality of my application was breached. Postings were made that I had applied for this job when I had not publicly revealed that anywhere. Postings were made saying that I did not get the position before I was notified. How this happened is unknown and that is what I am requesting be investigated. This is a reasonable request because if there is a leak somewhere — whether that leak be due to computer hacking, someone snooping or someone violating the confidentiality of job applications, someone gossiping to friends about who applied or something else — it needs to be fixed so future applicants won’t have this happen to them. I am not blaming anyone, but I do have the right to know what happened. The fact is that the confidentiality of my application was violated, someone, somehow through some unknown means gained access to information they should not have had and a matter I chose to keep private was posted on the internet. That is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously.

Here is what actually happened with NYU. It is interesting and telling to note that until today (April 18, 2011) I have not discussed nor even mentioned anything about this matter. I have not discussed it on the Internet or even on Facebook. I make it a point never to discuss by name any faculty positions I apply for before a final decision has been made, for obvious reasons. Yet although it is a bald-faced lie that I was declared “unfit” for the position (in fact, I was declared by the search committee head “a qualified applicant”), someone seems to have gained inside information that I had applied for a faculty position at NYU’s school of social work and that I did not get it. How this information was obtained remains a mystery, since I am sure that the people on the search committee are completely ethical and would never have leaked it. It appears that someone snooped or someone snooped and then told someone else who posted this.

The anonymous poster, whoever it was, was apparently aware that I had not gotten the position before I received my rejection letter and announced the fact that I did not get the job in a very nasty way, accompanied by lies about the reasons why. The posting was made shortly before I got my formal rejection letter (via e-mail).

I notified the search committee chair about this to apprise him of the situation and he expressed serious concern and expressed his sincere compassion about what I was having to endure with regard to the internet smear campaign (I sent the head of the search committee links to all the postings so he could see the outrageous lies in them). While it is true I did not get the position, it is completely false that I didn’t get it because they considered me unfit to teach or that it had anything to do with any of the lies that were posted about me such as the lie that I have a criminal record, which of course I do not. The head of the search committee has now given me permission to make it publicly known that he and the other search committee members considered me one of a number of strong, qualified applicants who applied for the position and their decision was in no way meant to reflect poorly on me.

The NYU faculty position I applied for was an administrative program coordinator position for an MSW program at a campus outside of New York City. When I applied, I fully realized that this was a long shot for me and my chances of getting this were slim, simply because I have no administrative program coordinator experience in a university setting. I have such experience in a hospital setting, but I am well aware they must have had plenty of applicants who did have such experience in a university setting and understandably they would be a better fit for the position than I was. My main strengths and the bulk of my experiences are in research, clinical and teaching, not administration but I was willing to accept such a position, given the desirable location, high quality of the university and the fact that I did at least have some experience in a hospital, although not a university setting.

The job market this year is especially competitive, tough and challenging and for a school as popular as NYU is, I am sure they are being completely truthful that they did have many qualified applicants and I am honored that they considered me among their pool of qualified applicants even though I ultimately was not selected for the position. I completely accept that that’s the way things are on the job market. Hundreds can apply for a given position, but only one person can get the job. It doesn’t mean that the applicants not selected were “unfit” or even that they were in any way inferior to the one chosen. It only means that the person selected was considered a better fit for that particular job.

Just to give people an idea of how tough this job market is, someone I know who teaches at Rutgers mentioned to me that about 120 people applied for one social work faculty position on their Newark campus. I would imagine that a comparable number would apply for an NYU position, as jobs in the NYC area are very popular and desirable.

What is disturbing is that the information that I applied and did not get the position was somehow discovered by someone who was apparently snooping where he/she did not belong. The matter was investigated but unfortunately it looks like at least for now, whoever did these postings has gotten away with it. Maybe next time whoever this is, won’t be so lucky. At some point the person will go too far and get caught, just as most overconfident sociopaths do.

Also note that this does not have to do with a breach in internet security on my end, because whoever did the postings knew that I did not get the position before I was notified, hence that information was not on my computer. Moreover, if someone had actually gained access to my private e-mails, there is much more information about my job search for jobs I actually had a much better chance of getting where I was on short lists that they could have sabotaged that could have been far more damaging to my job search, but were not discovered. The only place that was found out about was NYU and since I haven’t posted publicly about this until now, this leads me to believe that the breach occurred somewhere at NYU where someone gained illegal access to my application material, either by hacking into their computers or somehow gained access to my materials by snooping where they were physically located or some other way that I can’t even conceive of because I have to confess I have no experience or expertise in criminal activity such as that.

I predict that now postings will appear saying I “admitted” that NYU declared me unfit to teach or some other malicious lie. If this happens, fair warning to my cyber stalker, I will post a link to this blog article exposing the lies and distortions about what really happened.

This is yet another example of how malicious this smear campaign has gotten and how it appears to have extended beyond the internet. However, sometimes people get overconfident and do eventually get caught. At this time, I do not know the identity of the individual(s) doing this. However, it is interesting to note that at least some of the therapists whom I have criticized, by their own admission, had serious behavior problems themselves as youths and so with such a history, I have to wonder if perhaps such problems carried over into adulthood, but at this point I do not know if that is the case.

Part of the reason that I am posting this is that some people have laughed this whole smear campaign against me off as a trivial prank by some internet troll. The fact that inside information about my job search that was not available anywhere on the internet was obtained is one more piece of evidence that it is far more serious than that and that someone is also doing snooping off the internet.  This is very serious business and in some states, such cyber stalking especially when it involves illegally gaining access to information, may be considered a crime. It is certainly nothing to laugh off and blame the victim for. For people who are tempted to laugh this off and think it is nothing, first walk a mile in my shoes.

Update: A recent posting hinted that a “vigilant” group of unidentified individuals wrote a letter to NYU. This appears to be similar to what happened at FSU when a number of faculty members received a rather rambling, disjointed e-mail that smeared me and made accusations that I made postings on a blog that was not my blog that I had no responsibility for. Fortunately, they were not taken seriously and several of the faculty members forwarded the e-mails to me in order to make me aware of what was going on. All were sympathetic to me and opined that these anonymous e-mails had no credibility and appeared to be coming from an unstable individual and they expressed their condolences to me for having to deal with this. Apparently these individual who is writing these anonymous letters has no self-awareness as to how he/she comes across to others.

A few months before that Ronald Federici wrote a letter of “complaint” to the Dean of the College of Social work at FSU. I do not know if he was involved in the contacts that were allegedly made with NYU. Fortunately, the Dean at FSU chose not to take an action with regard to that letter and let me know that he considered it irrelevant to my work at FSU. To add insult to injury Federici also attempted to sue me for the commentary I wrote about his complain to my dean (Exhibit H). However, in the dismissal hearing, the Federal judge ruled that my comments did not constitute defamation and were opinion. Yes, I do indeed have the right to defend myself.

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