Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Heather Forbes’

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.


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.

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.

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:

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.

Altered Posting from a Private Yahoo Group Adoption List Serv

How many times have I written that the anonymous posters have sunk to a new low, or words to that effect? Now I am saying it again.

Observe how once again, my cyberstalker tries to flip things and make me out to be someone with “bizarre” delusions. What I am giving here is a factual, provable account of the bizarre actions of my cyberstalker. Big difference. Since already, misportrayals of this are being posted, I want to make it crystal clear that I am not making any claims that I know how the following incident happened. I only know that it did happen because I saw both the original and the altered posting and have retained copies of both as evidence.

A few days ago, one of the usual defamatory smear postings about me appeared on alt.religion.scientology. This one named a man I had never even heard of, claiming that he and I were lovers and the usual obscene lies that are posted about me that are characteristic of the anonymous posters conducting this smear campaign. I don’t usually post these links, but in this case I choose to, so it can go on the record how ugly this smear campaign has become:\

The claim was made that this person had made a posting to a Yahoo “chat room” (late I found out it was a Yahoo group list serv on Russian Adoption) and the posting said that I was being funded by a foundation for my critical work and for the (now-dismissed) lawsuit against me. This, of course is absolutely false. The posting also claimed that I had called an adoptive mother a “crack whore” which of course is another absurd lie. I challenged the anonymous poster to show me proof of what had been posted.

Shortly thereafter, another anonymous posting was made to alt.religion.scientology with a posting said to be from the Russian Adoption Yahoo list serv and also gave the name and e-mail address of the individual who they claimed posted it. I contacted that individual. He responded that he had no idea who I was (not surprising as I had no idea who he was either). I saw his actual posting and found that the anonymous posters had substantially altered it with their own bizarre fabrications including the “crack whore” statement which the individual in question did not make, nor did he make any statement about me, since he doesn’t even know me and has never heard of me.

Another interesting difference is that the actual, original postings were highly critical of Heather Forbes and also indirectly mentioned Ronald Federici (reference to Angelina Jolie adoption), but in the altered version, Forbes name was removed and the name of another therapist, Bryan Post, was substituted. It looks to me as if whoever the anonymous poster is,  wanted to make sure to leave Federici and Forbes’ names out of it and wanted me to believe that Bryan Post was responsible. Sorry, I’m not buying that. Although I am obviously no fan of Brian Post’s work, I do not believe Bryan Post is responsible because he was barely even mentioned in the actual posting, which focused on Heather Forbes. It looks to me like a posting from a private Yahoo Group list serv somehow got into the hands of the people conducting the smear campaign against me and the list serv has some passionate supporters of none other than Ronald Federici and Heather Forbes. Since the list serv is not public and cannot be viewed by non-members online, someone from the list serv obviously had to have forwarded the posting to someone else and at some point, it must have fallen into the hands of the anonymous cyber stalker who has been posting malicious lies about me. People can draw their own conclusions as to who the top suspects are. I’m not accusing any of the adoptive parents of this. Quite possibly they innocently forwarded this to someone who then got it into the hands of the anonymous posters, but there parents might want to take note of what is being done with those postings.

This is a new low and it once again, makes me ask how it is that such malicious lies are rationalized by these people. If the therapists they are defending are so wonderful, why the need to stoop so low and attack critics in this way? People who have valid arguments have no need to lie about people with whom they disagree.

It is also interesting that the posting once again implies that I am in a conspiracy with any critic of Federici or Forbes when in fact, as happened previously with Daniel Ibn Zayd (who I also had never heard of before we were accused of working together). What is really happening is that people who have never even met or heard of one another are coming to their own independent conclusions about the work of Ronald Federici, Heather Forbes, Bryan Post and certain other therapists. There is no conspiracy.

Ronald Federici attempted to sue five individuals and an organization for conspiracy, but the case was dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge on March 4, 2011 and the time to appeal has now passed, so the case is now closed.  The case was dismissed, for me, for jurisdiction and also, more importantly, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. One of the Exhibits was a blog by Daniel Ibn Zayd, someone who none of the defendants had any ties to. Thankfully, the right to free speech has prevailed. It is also interesting to note that the smear campaign quieted down considerably for the duration of the lawsuit and within days of its dismissal, the smear campaign on the internet resumed in full force and even escalated during the month of March. There were postings on an almost daily basis with all kinds of defamatory lies about me including a complete fabrication about me on a “cheaters” website claiming I broke up a marriage in New York and then the link was posted repeatedly, so this complete fabrication was Google bombed to come up on the first page of a Google search in my name.

So to state the obvious, for the record, I have never called anyone a “crack whore” and I certainly do not receive any funding for my critical work exposing what I consider to be potentially harmful and bogus therapies and no foundation funded my defense in Federici v Pignotti.

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