Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Federici v Pignotti’

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.

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The Google Groups Search Results Are Replicable: Anyone Can Search Google Groups and Find 1000s of Smear Postings About Monica Pignotti

The anonymous WordPress Bloggers responded to my posting of verifiable statistics of their over 1000 postings to internet newsgroups, as usual for them, by fabricating a dialogue that never occurred and focusing on the person who did the analysis. As is common for them, they raise a straw man argument. I never claimed this to be scholarly research. What it is, is a very simple search of Google Groups that one person took the time to do. What they are attempting to obscure is that these are verifiable statistics. Anyone who cares to take the time to do a search of Google Groups for postings about me under the pseudonyms listed and will find the same thing. It’s rather hypocritical for them to put an emphasis on the anonymity of the poster when they themselves are performing their smear campaign as anonymous individuals.

My “astonishing” number of postings (which even on the highest months, average only around 4 per day = about 15-20 minutes per day of my time) would not exist, were it not for 1000+ postings smearing me. Unlike my postings, the smear postings sometimes include fancy graphics and dredged up postings from more than a decade that would have taken the cyber smear campaigners much time to dredge up. It seems that attacking me is a full time job for someone. It only shows the extent of the smear campaign which is quite “astonishing” to borrow the ridiculous term used to describe my self-defense. Astonishing attacks call for astonishing responses rather than the victim sitting passively back and doing nothing. Once again, the anonymous WordPress posters have tried to blame the victim and failed.

That will not change the verifiable results that anyone with internet access can verify which conclusively shows that I am indeed the target and the victim of an anonymous internet smear campaign.

Perhaps this most recent flood of attacks on me and attempting to reverse things is deigned to distract from the legal documents I recently found regarding the conclusion of Federici v Pignotti et al. Why is it that Federici’s former lawyer who represented him in Federici v Pignotti et al was, according to what he stated in the filing,  unable, despite repeated attempts to reach him? Why did he state that he believed he could no longer ethically continue to represent him in any matter? Your guess is as good as mine, but obviously I have hit a nerve, in spite of the attempts of the anonymous smear bloggers to portray this (which involves a Federal case and order from a Federal judge) as well as my posting on the passage of important anti-SLAPP legislation in Washington DC as “legal trivia”. I can assure you that this is not “trivia” to those of us who have been hit with such lawsuits, nor is a federal case trivial.

This is only part of what I have uncovered in recent public records searches I have conducted.

In the meantime, the support I have received from the mental health profession and academic community shows that such people are not gullible enough to be fooled by this anonymous smear campaign, will not blame the victims and instead are calling the anonymous posters out on their antics.

To Date More than 1000 Postings by the Perpetrators of the Smear Campaign Against Monica Pignotti

Predictably, those other WordPress bloggers are at it again, in an  all too obvious attempt to reverse things, are attempting to reframe the smear campaign against me as some kind of internet obsession on my part. That is akin to calling the victim of rape, a sex addict. Here is an example of their propaganda tactics. Let’s see if we can identify what they leave out. They write:

She seems to post more less the same thing, a rather obsessive account of a lawsuit, to a fantastically diverse of discussion groups. Her topic is largely irrelevant to most of them, for example, she posts to groups about Scientology (she is a former Scientologist, but this court case has nothing to do with Scientology), children, cooking, skepticism, astronomy, revisionism, shortwave radio, law (here her posting may be relevant), the United States, and Pakistan.

This is not an attempt to justify what I do. I have no need to do so. Rather, my intent here is to set the record straight. What they neglect to mention is that these are all groups on which the internet smear campaigners have originated postings about me.  Someone recently did an informal analysis of these postings and found more than 1000 smear postings about me. The smear bloggers attempted to misportray this as a citation that requires some sort of statistical expertise. No, it does not require a PhD, a peer reviewed submission or any kind of complicated statistical knowledge. It is simply a Google Groups search that anyone can verify this by performing the same searches in Google Groups on the pseudonyms listed below. That’s what is really going on that the anonymous WordPress smear bloggers failed to mention. Those postings attacking me were, indeed on the “upswing”. Here is what was found. Remember, these are postings made by the perpetrators of the smear campaign:

The extent of the Usenet/google groups campaign against Monica Pignotti, is clearly extensive.

I have identified 1002 posts which may be attributed to the following posters/e-mail addresses.  There are undoubtedly more addresses from which postings take place, additional user names employed and further

postings by the user names identified in the following data which I have not detected.

The postings are predominantly, single thread headers, with no replies. My very rough calculations put this at above 90% of the posts I have encountered. The majority of posts which are replied to, are those made to the alt.religion.scientology group. Any person wishing to subject the following information to statistical analysis is free to do so.

Although there are a large number of groups to which postings are made, and some variations between different posters, there is a clear pattern of groups to which these posts are made. Those variations that  do exist, give the impression of the ‘elaborations of a bad liar’ to quote Clarice Starling.

The close co-relation between the groups, different user names have targeted, suggests strongly that there is a single agenda in the postings made.

The significance of this is that either the postings are made by one individual, or a relatively static group working within a single policy agenda.

Monica can not be said to be being targeted as a result of a widespread popular agenda. But ONLY, (I’d like to emphasise only more) as a part of a single focused attack.

Candidates include a ‘nut Job’ and, given her critical opinion of certain child treatment, and education styles favoured by the church of scientology, that church sits very definitely in the frame as a potential culprit.

Please note that in the following data each individual post will frequently have been posted in multiple groups.

POSTER SANDAU CHIROPRACTIC SERVICES

e-mail smilax_san@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          3

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

re.radio.shortwave

alt.revisionism

POSTER DIDACTICDERIVAT@YAHOO.COM

e-mail didacticderivat@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          46

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.health.diabetes

rec.puzzles

sci.lang

sci.med

sci.med.diseases.hepatitis

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.indian

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.usa

soc.culture.usa

soc.men

talk.politics.misc

POSTER NOAUTH

e-mail a@remailer.gabrix.ath.cx

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          39

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

soc.culture.usa

POSTER ANNE ONNIME

e-mail   anonym@rip.ax.lt

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          271

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.adoption.issues

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.politics

alt.politics.republicans

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

misc.legal

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang

sci.math

sci.psychology.misc

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.jewish

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.nordic

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.russian

soc.culture.taiwan

soc.culture.thai

sci.med

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  GEORGE ORWELL

e-mail nob@mixmaster.it

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          189

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.education

alt.magick

alt.recovery

alt.religion.mormon

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.legal

rec.arts.sf.written

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.pakistan

POSTER    ANONYMOUS

e-mail  cri@ecn.org

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          124

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.options

misc.legal

rec.bicycles.misc

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.math

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.palestine

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  NOMEN NESCIO

e-mail  nob@dizum.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          261

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

Nomen Nescio

nob@dizum.com

alt.baldspot

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

alt.support.depression.manic

alt.true-crime

ec.radio.shortwave

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang.japan

sci.math

sci.med

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.iranian

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.polish

soc.culture.turkish

uk.misc

POSTER  KULIN REMAILER

e-mail  remai@reece.net.au

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          69

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.stocks

misc.kids

misc.legal

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.indonesia

soc.culture.israel

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.malaysia

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.usa

Now come again, who is obsessed?

I had the choice of sitting passively by and allowing this to happen or fighting back. Just as rape victims of the past were told to be passive and submit or that the rape is their fault (still true in some countries even today), victims of cyber smear campaigns are also told this even sometimes by people who should know better. I tried silence and not responding for several months and it did not work. The smear campaign continued, so I decided to fight back. The smear campaign has been constant against others such as Larry Sarner and he has remained silent, showing that his silence failed to stop the abuse of his name. My responses were my way to point people to information that refutes this disinformation campaign, so when some unsuspecting person comes upon them on an internet search, they can at least be referred to information on why this smear campaign is occurring. It is the smear campaigners that “seem to post on the same thing” about me so of course, my responses are repetitive. There is nothing wrong with repetition to refute a smear campaign.

Perhaps the most ludicrous statement is the claim I am “obsessed” with lawsuits and “legal trivia”. I am not the one who has sued multiple parties repeatedly. I have never sued anyone in my life. Just check into Ronald Federici’s history of suing people and decide for yourselves who is obsessed. Interesting that they would characterize this lawsuit as “legal trivia” when before it was dismissed, for months before the lawsuit was ever filed, the Anonymous WordPress bloggers were calling it a History Making Lawsuit, had a WordPress blog by that title and have failed to update that blog to show that it was dismissed and upon what grounds (jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for Pignotti & Mercer). Instead, interrogatories and subpoenas that were never served for depositions that never occurred because the case was dismissed prior to that phase, remain posted last I checked, which was today. How dishonest is that? Obviously the bloggers did not consider it a trivial matter — until the case was dismissed, it would seem. Then, all of a sudden “history” was rewritten and it became a trivial matter. Talk about revisionism. I can assure you that it is not considered “trivial” for those who see it as an injustice that people have to pay thousands to defend themselves from such lawsuits and in states without anti-SLAPP legislation, have very little, if any, chance of being reimbursed for thousands in legal expenses just to get it dismissed at an early stage.

While I am not a fan of adding yet more categories of pathology to the DSM and I am not intending this as a diagnosis for anyone in particular (they have more than enough already) if I were, I might suggest as new category, Litigation Addiction, for people who seem to be compelled to repeatedly sue others. Now that would make an interesting reality show Dr. Drew Pinsky might want to consider doing: Celebrity Rehab: Litigation Addiction. Just as the drug-addicted celebrities were ordered to delete all drug contacts from their cell phones and stay away from bars, litigation-addicted participants could be ordered to delete the names of all lawyers from their cell phones and stay away from courtrooms. How about it, Dr. Drew? [I’m being facetious, of course, but some people do seem to be using the legal system as a hoped-for solution to many of their interpersonal conflicts or a way to shut up anyone who criticizes them.]


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.

Monica Pignotti: Another Typical Sunday of Internet Smear Campaign

I am continuing to expose the anonymous smear campaign against me. As noted previously, this smear campaign has escalated considerably following the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti. Coincidence? You be the judge. Note that I am not accusing anyone in particular of being the anonymous poster. Given the vast differences in writing styles, it is likely there are more than one. Some are fairly literate whereas others seem to have difficulty even putting simple sentences together. I’m just pointing a few things out and people can make their own guesses, which are as good as mine.

That being said, Ronald Federici has responded to his critics, in a posting that he has linked to his own website. In case anyone is wondering why I am linking to it and thus aiding in its promotion, read it and you’ll understand.

Now, back to the posters who appear to have less courage and choose to post anonymous lies about me.

Please note that I have chosen an unorthodox way to deal with this by responding to these postings. I am well aware that conventional wisdom is against this. However, I have tried not responding at all for months at a time and the postings did not stop. Also notice that Larry Sarner has chosen not to respond to any of the smear postings about him and yet the unrelenting smear campaign against him has also continued. I need to remind people who believe they know all about this, that this is a very new area and just as conventional wisdom about the need of rape victims to remain silent and just submit proved to be wrong, conventional wisdom about victims of cyber abuse remaining silent may also prove to be wrong.

Last Sunday I exposed the postings that were made against me on that day. Today I am doing the same. It isn’t even 3PM yet and here are the ones that have appeared so far.

On alt.religion.scientology

Monica Pignotti: Professional Cultist

Yet another repetition of malicious lies and outright fabrications including:

  • The lie that I was “expelled” from Advocates for Children in Therapy for failing to pay “my share” of the legal bills

This one is false on a number of counts. First of all, I was not “expelled”. I have not been involved with ACT since December 2010 before any legal bills ever even existed. There was never any issue over legal bills with ACT because I had a different lawyer from an entirely different law firm from ACT/Sarner/Rosa. Again, this is all a verifiable matter of public record from the now-dismissed case of Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al. Although I am no longer part of ACT, my departure was my own choice. I have nothing critical to say about them and still support their mission. You see, in the non-cultic world, people come and go from organizations all the time for benign reasons that have nothing to do with being “expelled’ or with abandonment.

  • The lie that the “remainder” of my work is in “cultic studies”

In fact, very little of my professional work has anything whatsoever to do with “cultic studies” as my CV demonstrates. However, the fact that I do have some knowledge of cults and their dynamics appear to be a big threat to some people who are exhibiting very cultic behaviors of launching smear campaigns against their critics. In Scientology this is called fair game.

  • The lie that I am hoping to make money doing adoption therapy with a certain licensed psychologist.

This is completely false. I have never made any money doing adoption therapy, nor do I ever intend to. This made the now-dismissed charges of “tortious interference” very difficult to make stick, given that I have never made any money from my advocacy work. I have never met the psychologist in question, nor have I ever had any kind of business relationship with her, nor do I plan to.

  • The lie that I was fired from FSU due to “immorality”

I was not fired from FSU at all. In fact, I only left because I graduated with my PhD and I have the references to prove it that I can and have supplied to any legitimate organization requesting them. The nonsense about sexual misconduct and “immorality” is a complete fabrication.

  • The lie that I have a criminal conviction for “witness tampering” that has ended my ability to land a tenure-track position.

I have no criminal record whatsoever. I invite anyone with any doubts to run a background check on me, which will come up squeaky clean, not even traffic violations. Whether the internet smear campaign has ended my ability to land a tenure track position remains to be seen. If it has (and note I say if), that is more of an indictment of the profession then it is of me, that I would be penalized for my advocacy work by a profession that professes to value advocacy.  I truly hope this is not the case.

  • The fabrication that my “sexual openness” has landed me in court for divorce, custody and alimony cases.

This is a complete fabrication. I have never had anything whatsoever to do with any such cases and I am about as far as one could get from the description “sexually promiscuous”.

  • The fabrication that my behavior at “academic events” has given me the title “social work sex toy”

Another complete fabrication. The only one who has used that “title” to describe me have been these anonymous cyber stalkers.

Just how desperate can these people be to grasp at these kind of straws to attack me?

But wait, there’s more:

Also from alt.religion.scientology:

Monica Pignotti: The Academic Failure

This is basically a repetition of the same lies that were in the posting described above. It looks like here, my cyberstalker got lazy and just cut and pasted the same malicious, defamatory material.

Monica Pignotti and Pavlov’s Dog

This one is an attempt to blame me, the victim of cyber abuse.

First, it castigates me for having a “Google Alert” on myself. Setting up a “Google Alert” is pretty standard advice to someone in my position who is being cyber stalked and there is nothing wrong with doing so.

It also excoriates me for responding to posting and says I am “talking to myself”. No, responding to postings is not talking to ones self. It is responding to a posting. Responding more than once to a posting is also not talking to oneself. Sometimes a thoughtful person will post something and after sending it have some more thoughts to add to it, hence a second posting. This has nothing to do with mental illness. In fact, this kind of behavior pattern was illustrated by the fictional character, Colombo who was known for coming back and saying “one more thing”. For those of you old enough to remember:

Was Colombo’s character supposed to be mentally ill? I don’t think so. He was an eccentric but brilliant detective whose mind was always running full speed ahead to solve the mystery at hand. I consider myself to be a philosophical and psychological detective. It is a hallmark indicator of a mental health quack to pathologize (label as mentally ill) behavior that is merely different.

I wasn’t talking to myself but I might as well also point out that the notion that talking to oneself is a sign of mental illness is a common myth believed by amateurs and some ignorant therapists who endorse quack DID therapies. No, it is not. Here is a website that cites research to debunk that myth (and it’s also fine for children):

For adults who do so, don’t worry. Scientists advocate talking to yourself, believing it to be perfectly normal as well as having phenomenal emotional benefits. According to a recent poll conducted by Nottingham Trent University, passengers on a bus or train are able to release their inner stress by quietly humming a tune or simply whispering to themselves.  However, they try to do this as inaudibly as possible, feeling “it’s legitimate to communicate to others, but not with themselves” as cited from leading researcher Dr. Glenn Williams.

Furthermore, children also stand to gain by speaking to themselves. A study conducted by Dr. Adam Winsler of George Mason University deduced that kindergarten kids who talk to themselves are more confident, participating actively during class compared to their more introverted peers. By chatting with themselves, they are able to put their problems into perspective and reflect upon their past actions. Dr. Adam says “private speech” was essential in childhood development and should not be censured, but rather heartily embraced and encouraged.

So much for that myth.

Moving on to the Cooking Junkies Newsgroup (who knows why they selected cooking):

Monica Pignotti: Immoral and Detested

Well okay, there is a grain of truth to this one. I am indeed “detested” by people who are followers of certain therapy gurus I have criticized.  My rebuttal to that one is:

Monica Pignotti: Moral and Detested by Quacks

The rest is just a cut and paste of the postings I described above. Guess my anonymous stalker is having a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Will update this as more will inevitably come in.

Oh, and one more thing I would like to ask the people who are participating in this smear campaign:

What, exactly do you say to yourself to make what you are doing, in your own mind, okay?

How are you rationalizing posting these malicious lies about me?

Or am I giving you too much credit in asking this question? After all, sociopaths have no need to rationalize anything to themselves.

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?


Anonymous Internet Smear Campaign against Monica Pignotti Escalates after Court Case Dismissal

Update April 3: Those other WordPress anonymous smear bloggers are at it again, misrepresenting my internet postings, which were made in defense, not initiated by me because I feel “compelled” to post every spring or any such nonsense. This particular spring, what has happened is that following the dismissal of Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al, the smear campaign against me has escalated.

Although I need to begin by stating that these postings are anonymous and I am not accusing anyone in particular of being the anonymous poster(s), it is interesting to note that in the month following the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti, the smear campaign against me, which was relatively quiet with only a few mild postings about me for the 3-month duration of this case, has now resumed in full force. There seems to be a frantic quality to these postings by people who are obviously desperate to discredit me and have let loose with the most obscene imaginable false statements about me. In many states, these kinds of statements, especially the obscene ones, would qualify as libel per se, meaning that the statements are so obviously defamatory that the plaintiff would not even have to prove damages to win a case, should these anonymous cowards ever be identified and happen to live in such states. For example, one of the defamatory postings falsely stated that I had committed a serious crime. That type of statement may be considered libel per se if the anonymous coward who posted this were to be identified.

The other person defamed in that particular post (I am not linking to it because I do not want to promote this obscenity but it does come up on Google searches in my name), by the way, is someone who was critical of her child’s former social worker therapist in the media. Although I have never met this courageous mother, since she blew the whistle on him to the press, the internet has been flooded with highly defamatory postings about her and for some reason my name was brought into it as well. Why my name was linked to this is baffling since I cannot in any way claim credit for having exposed this particular social worker and have never publicly criticized his practices other than this mention and as far as I know this particular individual had nothing to do with Federici v Pignotti et al. The social worker in question moved his practice to Virginia, after being ordered by his licensing board in Oklahoma to stop misrepresenting his credentials. This is yet another illustration of the price people pay who choose to blow the whistle on certain therapists although in this instance, his licensing board actually did take action. Kudos to the Oklahoma Board for setting such a good example.

All kinds of absurd lies are being posted about me, including a completely fabricated report that I had an affair with someone’s husband and broke up her marriage and then that link has been Google bombed, by repeatedly posting it all over the internet making the completely false statement that I am a party in multiple divorce cases. People who know me know that the last thing in the world I would ever be interested in, is someone else’s husband. The lies that are being posted are so far afield of who I am as a person, it is obvious to anyone who actually knows me how off base they are.

These kinds of “cheaters” sites are highly controversial because they allow anonymous people to post anything they please and there is absolutely no fact checking. Any anonymous person can go onto such a site and make any kind of unsubstantiated allegations they please and there does not seem to be any accountability. Naturally, this makes these kinds of websites fertile ground for anyone with an agenda to smear another person with lies.

The latest postings about me have been highly obscene, sexist as well as homophobic towards my legal counsel and the legal counsel of some of the other defendants (actually I have no idea what their sexual orientation is, nor does it matter to me, but the postings about them show that whoever is doing them is highly homophobic). Some of the postings have also been denigrating people who have supported me. However, these postings say far more about the people who are doing them than they do about me, which is why they are anonymous.

If you Google my name, Monica Pignotti, please keep the timing of these postings in mind. Although I am not accusing anyone in particular of posting these, the timing is noteworthy and some of the postings which directly mention parties in the lawsuit are obviously upset about its outcome, which is that the case has been dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge who has ruled that Virginia has no jurisdiction over any of the defendants.

The plaintiff of the now-dismissed Federici v Pignotti et al, Ronald Federici has posted in his own name, a highly derogatory piece (in my opinion) on me and all the other defendants that is linked to his own website which I have responded to. People can read his posting and my response and decide for themselves how to evaluate it.

To the people who are trying to “help” me out by advising me to just ignore these postings and they will go away, that is not the case. Believe it or not, I have actually heard and carefully considered all the arguments in favor of making that choice. I urge people to walk a mile in my shoes before they presume to judge me for the choices I have made, which includes going against this conventional wisdom that is often presented as if it were some kind of unquestionable truth. In actuality, cyber abuse is a very new phenomenon that has yet to be studied so we really cannot claim that ignoring these people is a successful strategy. In this case, making the less conventional choice is not necessarily making the choice with the least evidence to back it up, because neither the conventional nor the unconventional choices have good evidence to back them up. Therefore, other factors such as personal style (does the person tend to face or avoid conflict, e.g.) or values can come into play.

Remember that around 20 years ago, rape victims were told to be silent and just submit because fighting back would only make things worse. We have since learned that this is a myth and rape victims are now advised to loudly fight back in any way they can.  There seems to be a similar myth attached to cyber abuse, that the victims should just slink off somewhere and remain silent and that will get it to stop when again, we don’t know that is the case. In my case, this is particularly not likely to happen because based on the content of many of the posts, the anonymous posters are upset about my criticism of certain therapists. It is not that they want me to stop fighting back — what they want is for me to stop my criticism and since I will not be silenced, this will continue, regardless of if and how I respond to it.

For further proof of this, observe that Larry Sarner and Linda Rosa have not responded at all to this smear campaign and yet Larry Sarner is getting pummeled at least as badly as I am, maybe even worse since the dot com domain in his name has been bought by someone else and a smear website has been put up. He remains silent and has not fought back and yet the attacks and smears against him continue, unabated. I’m not criticizing him for this. I am only pointing out that he made a different choice than I did on how to respond and it does not seem to have stopped the attacks any more than my responding has.

The fact is that those of us who have found ourselves to be targets of cyber smear campaigns are damned if we do and damned if we don’t respond. That is the position we are in and so I ask people to please not rub salt in our wounds by blaming the victims for how they choose to respond. It would be more helpful to focus on the perpetrators and attempt to gain a better understanding of what motivates someone to do what these anonymous posters have done to me. It has been very difficult for me to imagine what kind of mindset someone must be in to sit on their computer and post these kinds of obscenities and lies, all under the protection of pseudonyms and anonymity that the internet offers. As the renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has pointed out in his book The Lucifer Effect, there is a large body of research that shows that people will say and do things when anonymous that they would not otherwise do or say when their identity is known.

Although I do acknowledge that anonymity can have legitimate purposes such as survivors of abuse coming forward and telling their stories, in some cases, deciding where to draw the line can be a difficult issue with no clear cut answers. For example, the loosely-associated group of people called Anonymous has been exposing Scientology abuses for the past few years and they have chosen to remain anonymous due to the serious consequences some people have experienced who have spoken out against Scientology using their real names. Although I have been critical of them in the past, having observed their present activities, my views on them have somewhat mellowed in light of this new information. I do also acknowledge that they have done some good in exposing abuses and giving a forum to ex-Scientologists who have come to some of the well-attended protests and spoken out, using their own names. Their existence happened to coincide with the defection of several people who were in the top echelon of Scientology management, so these two factors working together, even though not all of those defectors support Anonymous, have produced some very hard hitting and highly public exposures. They fall into a gray area, however because some of their behavior, such as the infamous Operation Slick Pubes [I will spare people here the details of that caper, but those who are curious can Google it] is not behavior I condone, nor do all members of Anonymous even condone it. Anonymous is a very loosely knit group that has a diversity of different sorts of individuals. Some are decent, idealistic people who take a stand against abuses and for free speech whereas others clearly are not, so it’s a mixed bag.

My point here is that anonymity can have both positive and negative consequences. However, the anonymous posters in my case, have clearly crossed the line since they have posted malicious lies about me with no even remote basis in fact. The US Constitution protects the right to anonymous free speech but it does not protect the right to maliciously lie about someone.

Although a few internet trolls might also be jumping in on the action (I’m not stupid, I know this) it is not the internet trolls that are driving this operation. They are just jumping on an already strongly existing bandwagon. In some cases, information has been posted that had not been known on the internet that no troll would have had access to. What I am experiencing here is a reaction from certain people who are very upset about my criticism and if I allow these kinds of attacks to silence me, this sends the message that anonymous followers of therapy gurus who who are upset that their guru has been questioned and criticized can successfully intimidate people into silence by their online cyber-stonings. I refuse to accept that. If that means the end of my professional career (note that I wrote if, not saying that it necessarily is), then the shame is on the profession that would shun someone for taking the stances that I have. Time will tell if this is the case.

Is Freedom of Speech for Sale in the United States of America?

Following my recent experience with the court system in the case of Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al., I would have to regretfully say yes, in my opinion. I want to state at the outset, however, that I am in no way blaming this on the judge or any of the lawyers. They were  doing their jobs to the best of their ability and working, as they had to, within the limits of the law as it exists and they all did a fine job. This posting is in no way meant as a criticism of them. This posting is about a much larger problem that exists within our system that is not the fault of any particular individual. In my opinion, this system needs to change. Please note that this posting is an expression of my opinions and the facts, as I best understand them.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, aka SLAPP lawsuits are presenting serious threats to our constitutional rights. Here is an excellent FAQ on SLAPPs for those unfamiliar with the term.

The bottom line is that in our system, as it presently exists, anyone from a state that does not have strong anti-SLAPP legislation (which is most states) can sue anyone else from any other state, for any reason and the only option that person has is to either go through the tremendous expense of filing the necessary papers to have the case dismissed or do nothing and have the Plaintiff win a default judgment. In some cases, such as Rajagopal v Does, an attempt is being made by a California plastic surgeon to have multiple anonymous internet posters identified who posted critical comments about her on the internet. No defendants are named in this case. An article critical of her practice was published in a San Francisco paper, but that publication was not sued. Instead, anonymous commenters were targeted. Dr. Rajagopal filed her case in Virginia and although in the complaint, the assertion was made that some of the “John Does” may be in Virginia, as far as I could determine, no evidence was presented that this was the case. On the contrary, it would make more sense that any patients or direct competitors would be residents of California and that the case would belong in California. However, the problem is that California is one of the few states that has strong anti-SLAPP legislation. The existence of such legislation makes it much easier for defendants who are sued without basis to not only get their cases speedily dismissed, but also to get reimbursed for their legal fees. This is very difficult and expensive to do in states such as Virginia with no anti-SLAPP legislation. The attorneys for one of the “John Does” has filed a motion to quash the subpoena that would request the revelation of the names of the John Does. Fortunately this “John Doe” has attorneys from the Virginia ACLU and attorneys from other organizations in California concerned with free speech who have taken an interest in this case and hopefully they will be able to successfully quash the subpoena. The outcome is pending. The lawyer representing the Plaintiff, Domingo Rivera, is the same lawyer who represented Federici in Federici v Pignotti et al.

In my case, Federici v Pignotti et al, Virginia psychologist Ronald S. Federici, PsyD, who touted himself in his complaint as an “internally [sic] renowned” expert, sued five individuals, one non-profit organization and 10 John Does for defamation, tortious interference (interference with business), conspiracy to injure in trade, business and reputation. None of the defendants are from Virginia, nor do they do business in Virginia, own property in Virginia or have any ties to Virginia that would give this state jurisdiction over them. Two defendants and the non-profit are from Colorado, one from Nebraska, one from New Jersey and one (me) from Florida. The case was ultimately dismissed on the grounds of jurisdiction for all defendants and for failure to state a claim for Mercer and Pignotti. The reason the latter was only for two of us is that the other defendants did not include that in their pleadings and thus, the judge did not consider or rule on that basis for those defendants.

The bottom line is, that although ultimately the defendants in Federici v Pignotti et al did successfully have the case dismissed, it has cost each of the defendants dearly, financially, to hire competent legal counsel to accomplish this. Had we ignored it, Ronald Federici would have won a default judgment that would have followed us all around for the rest of our lives. Had we attempted to go pro se (not hire a lawyer and represent ourselves) it is likely Federici would have prevailed, since not being lawyers ourselves with experience with the Virginia court system, it is highly unlikely we could have acquired the necessary information and knowledge of the Virginia court system, precedents, statutes, etc. to successfully argue this case.  So really, our only option, if we wanted to preserve our right to free speech, was to hire attorneys and go through a very expensive process. Since the dismissal of this case, anonymous posters who appear to be supporters of Federici, have been gloating about this, even though ultimately the case was dismissed. In my opinion, there ia a major flaw in our court system that would allow this to happen. A Federal judge found that Virginia did not have jurisdiction over any of us and he also found that Ronald Federici failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for two of the defendants, yet we have no viable recourse to recover our attorney fees. We can try to file a motion for reimbursement or we can even try to sue for malicious prosecution but again, that would require even more legal expenses with very uncertain chances for success. Ultimately, we could be out even more legal expenses if we chose to go that route. Therefore, essentially what has occurred is that what is supposed to be our natural right to freedom of speech was something we had to pay dearly for in legal fees to defend ourselves.

Again, this is not the fault of our excellent judge who I feel very lucky to have gotten and I’m not just saying that because he ruled in our favor. This judge, the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee, has an excellent reputation for being fair and thorough and an internet search of his name reveals rave reviews from lawyers who feel privileged to have worked with him. However, he can only work within the limits of the current system. The same applies to our attorneys.

These cases illustrate that even being from a state that has strong anti-SLAPP legislation is no protection for residents of that state, since they can be hauled into court in other states that do not have such legislation and forced to defend themselves. That is why the bottom line is that nothing less than anti-SLAPP legislation on a Federal level will do. Until such a time such legislation passes, freedom of speech will continue to be, essentially, for sale in the United States and no one is immune.

One of the main reasons anti-SLAPP legislation is opposed is that people are concerned that this would deprive people with legitimate grounds for defamation of their rights to due process. In the book, The Google Bomb, attorney John Dozier urged people to not support such legislation. As a victim of internet defamation and cyber abuse myself, I support, appreciate and agree with much of what Dozier had to say in that book. In spite of all that has transpired, I still think there is a valid place for the work that lawyers like John Dozier and Domingo Rivera do when they represent actual victims of internet defamation and I am sure there are people they have helped and done good for.  As strongly as I disagree with Domingo Rivera on the above-two cases I mentioned, if I were ever to hear from a victim of cyber defamation in Virginia who wished to sue, I might even consider referring that person to Domingo Rivera since this is a highly specialized area of expertise that few people have. However, I disagree with Dozier on anti-SLAPP law.  Anti-SLAPP law, as I understand it, would not apply to people who are able to state valid claims, claims upon which relief may be granted. What anti-SLAPP legislation would do is prevent people from filing baseless claims against others in a court of law, forcing defendants to hire lawyers at tremendous cost. Such lawsuits can be financially devastating to the average person and since most people are not wiling to pay that price for freedom of speech, they ultimately end up settling and their criticism is silenced. To me, no price is too high to pay for freedom of speech and thus, I am willing to do everything legally within my power to raise funds to defend myself and turned down an offer to settle the case. However, most people do end up settling such cases and their freedom of speech is chilled.

Anti-SLAPP legislation on a Federal level would be an excellent start to preserving freedom of speech on the internet and in the United States. I say “start” because defendants would still have to initially pay attorneys legal fees to file the necessary motions to dismiss and be reimbursed. There doesn’t seem to be any way around that unless legislation were passed to provide civil litigants with public defenders, as is done in criminal cases. That kind of legislation, however, would be highly unlikely to be passed, especially given the current budget crises and necessity of cutting the budget, even as it currently exists. That would not be a solution I would even support, especially since there is a problem, even in criminal cases with the quality of public defenders.

The way the current system is, if you are poor, you do still have the right to freedom of speech, of course, but that right will come to a grinding halt as soon as someone decides to sue you for what you have to say, even if the suit is groundless. I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but this is a problem that deserves much more attention, brainstorming and debate.  I don’t think the average person even realizes how serious this problem is and anyone who cares enough to speak out publicly on a given issue could be placed in such a predicament.

For those interested in supporting anti-SLAPP legislation at the Federal level, here is an informative website on the proposed Citizen Participation Act (HR 4364). Especially relevant to the present discussion are:

B. PROTECTIONS FOR PETITION AND SPEECH ACTIVITY.
The Citizen Participation Act protects both petition activity and speech or conduct in connection with an issue of public interest with a set of procedural mechanisms. An “issue of public interest” includes any information or opinion related to health or safety; environmental, economic or community well-being; the government; a public figure; or a good, product or service in the marketplace.

The proposed Act allows a defendant to bring a special motion to dismiss the lawsuit at an early stage in the proceedings. The defendant must show that the lawsuit against him arose from his protected speech or petitioning activity. The plaintiff must then demonstrate that her claim is both legally sufficient and supported by a sufficient prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment. If the plaintiff fails to meet this burden, the lawsuit is dismissed.

The hearing and the ruling on the motion are expedited, and discovery proceedings are stayed until the motion is resolved. A defendant who loses the motion to dismiss has the right to an immediate appeal, and a claim dismissed on the motion must be dismissed with prejudice.

and

E. FEES AND COSTS.
A party who prevails on a special motion to dismiss or quash may recover the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

and this is especially interesting, regarding bankruptcy since it is a very real possibility that some plaintiffs could try to use bankruptcy as an excuse not to pay up:

F. BANKRUPTCY NON-DISCHARGABILITY OF SLAPP AND SLAPPBACK AWARDS.

To ensure that a SLAPP defendant receives the court-ordered relief to which they are entitled, this provision makes fees awarded under the statute non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Some states allow a SLAPP defendant to recover damages incurred in defending against a SLAPP, and this provision also makes these damages non-dischargeable.

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