Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘legal cases’

Misportrayals of my Views on Libel Law

Contrary to more misportrayals, as usual, of my views on that other WordPress blog by saying I am on the “wrong side of a legal debate”, anyone even remotely familiar with my views would immediately recognize that I am completely opposed to the proposed criminal libel law in North Carolina and am very glad to hear it got struck down and agree, it would have been the worst libel law, ever, my worst nightmare when it comes to suppression of internet free speech.  In my prior posting about criminal libel law in Florida, that law is not nearly as sweeping and applies only to very specific forms of speech and was not specifically about the internet, not all internet speech and I never said I was in favor of it. I was simply noting that it existed, leaving the door open for prosecution, should the anonymous posters who are posting obscene lies about me be identified. I was noting that as an item of interest and also noted that I wasn’t even sure if it had been recently enforced, as it appears to be one of those antiquated laws. In Florida, it is also still illegal for unmarried people of the opposite sex who are couples to live together but of course, hundreds of thousands of couples in Florida do and it is not enforced and this obviously outdated law should be taken off the books.

Only someone who is either extremely deficient in thinking skills or who is deliberately attempting to mislead people about my views would conclude I would support such a law. If anyone is on the wrong side of that debate, it would be Ronald S. Federici, who tried (and ultimately failed) to gain jurisdiction over several defendants from out of state in his internet defamation lawsuits, so it would seem to me that the NC proposed law would be right up his alley. Plus, since it would criminalize defamation, it would spear him the expense of having to hire a lawyer, although the disadvantage would be that he’d have to convince the State to press charges, which would be highly unlikely since so far he has been unable to state a claim that was acceptable to the court (e.g. his Federal case against me was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted). Nevertheless, if that law had been in existence in Virginia, Ronald Federici could have gained jurisdiction over all of his defendants, had he been able to state a claim. Go here for documents which show that it is Ronald S. Federici who repeatedly tried to get defendants brought in from out of state so he could sue them for internet defamation, conspiracy and tortious interference. However, a Federal judge put an end to that by overruling the decision of a small claims court judge (Federici also lost the small claims cases against Mercer, Miller and Advocates for Children in Therapy, but the judge in that case had stated that he believed Virginia had jurisdiction over them — however when case law was presented to the Federal judge in his later lawsuit, it was ruled that Virginia does not have jurisdiction over any of the defendants and that the mere fact that people in Virginia read the postings was not sufficient reason for Virginia to have jurisdiction. A law like the one proposed in NC, however, would have changed that).

In any case, I completely agree that the NC law would have completely killed Constitutional rights to free speech and I am adamantly opposed to it and overjoyed that it was defeated. Is that clear enough for you, anonymous cyber smear campaigners? It is well known that I publicly support anti-SLAPP legislation and the kind of law that was proposed in NC could have encouraged all kinds of frivolous lawsuits and had horrific unintended consequences.

What I do think is that something needs to be done about is extreme cases of obviously malicious fabrications being posted on the internet that can wreck a person’s life. Now that is draconian. That is something our Constitution does not guarantee and that, under law, is subject to usually civil defamation statutes. What still needs to be worked out is how to deal with anonymous people on the internet who are getting away with this. The fact that such postings can come from outside the US makes this issue particularly complicated and problematic and I, for one, am not so arrogant as to presume that I have the answer for how to deal with this. There are no easy answers to this and since the internet is still relatively new, this is something that probably won’t be worked out for years. Also, wording of such a law needs to be worked out so that it would clearly distinguish between people who are posting malicious lies designed to wreck a person’s life and people who are exercising their legitimate constitutional rights to free speech by expressing opinions and the facts, as they sincerely understand them.

On the one hand, people do need to remain free to exercise their right to free speech, which includes the right to express opinions, including criticism that people might not like and well documented facts. What free speech does not include, however, is malicious lies and outright fabrications of the sort that have been posted about me, for example, copying a posting from a website, altering it and then putting my name in it, something I recently caught the internet smear campaigners doing, red handed. That is a clear demonstration of malice and deliberately posting falsehoods that would even win a case against a public figure. However, in this particular case, I didn’t even need to go to the law. The website owner, once I presented him/her with the evidence, much to their credit, had the decency to remove the posting. However, he/she didn’t have to and not all website owners would have done so. So thank you, Liars and  Cheaters RS, for being decent and honest human beings. Sadly, not every website owner is and hence, the need for some kind of carefully and clearly worded law, not the proposed and now-defeated NC law.

So yes, the State of North Carolina went way overboard and their proposed legislation, I am very happy to report, was defeated. However, that does not mean that anything should go when it comes to malicious fabrications being posted on the internet. Ultimate, however, I believe the solution lies not with the passage of legislation, which will always have its limitations, but with teaching people to critically evaluate statements that are made, rather than believe everything they read on the internet. Were people capable of doing this, it wouldn’t matter what was posted and Google would have to re-evaluate its search algorithms if it wanted to be credible.

Once again, the anonymous smear campaigners appear incapable of telling the difference between legitimate free speech and malicious defamation.

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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.

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.]


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

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

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

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

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

Full document can be viewed here:

Memo MTD John Does

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

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

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

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

Case closed June 1, 2011.

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

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

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

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.

Federici v Pignotti et al: Order Granting Motion to Dismiss

It is now official. For the lawsuit of Ronald S. Federici v Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Advocates for Children in Therapy, Larry Sarner and Linda Rosa, the order by the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District Court of Alexandria, VA (aka the rocket docket), granting all of the defendants’ motions to dismiss has been published and granted. Click on the following link, to read the document (this order has been updated and amended March 28 to correct an error (the motion was granted for failure to state a claim for Pignotti and Mercer (not Miller as the previous version stated):

Order Granting Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss.pdf (03-28-2011)

The Dismissal was granted for me on the grounds of both Jurisdiction and Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted:

ORDERED that Defendants Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Larry Sarner, Advocates for Children in Therapy, and Linda Rosa’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) is GRANTED.

It is further
ORDERED that Pignotti and Mercer’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is GRANTED.

So it is now official. For Jean Mercer and Monica Pignotti, the case was dismissed on both the grounds of jurisdiction and Ronald Federici’s failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The reason not all defendants had it dismissed on failure to state a claim was that the defendants had different lawyers from different law firms and although I believe both did an excellent, competent job, some of the defendants did not include asking for dismissal for failure to state a claim in their pleadings. I mention this so people reading this will understand that this should in no way be interpreted as any kind of denial for the other defendants. They just didn’t plead it that way in the first place as we did. I note this because this has already been mischaracterized by certain anonymous posters as a “split decision” when it was nothing of the sort. There was no decision on failure to state a claim for the other defendants because they didn’t plead it in the first place. Therefore it was neither granted nor denied for those defendants.

This finding of failure to state a claim is also interesting, since in Dr. Federici’s recent “response” to his critics, he stated that my blogs were filled with lies, fabrications and malicious content. I have repeatedly asked him to identify specifics, but the only place he has even attempted to do so is in his now-dismissed complaint to the courts. I would think that the statements he named would be his very best efforts to identify statements I made that he thinks fell into that category. However, according to the findings stated in the dismissal hearing of March 4, 2011, he failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and the judge stated that the statements attributed to me did not fall into a category that would constitute defamation and pointed specifically to Exhibit H, stating that these were opinions, hence not actionable (that would be the case regardless of whether or not Federici is a public figure, a separate issue that the judge elected not to formally rule on although he did state his opinion — the case was already dismissed on other grounds so the public figure issue at least for this particular case would be moot).

Bottom line is that it is my understanding that Federici still has not named any specific statements from my blogs that would qualify as anything even remotely constituting lies, fabrications or malice. He asserts this vague allegation in his response to his critics in the section where he attacks me specifically, but does not back it up with any specific quotes that can be attributed to me.

Again, I remind people that I am only responsible for the Exhibits in the complaint that have my name on them. I am not responsible for any of the other material, even though Federici attempted to make us all responsible for everything in the complaint as a “conspiracy” which was one of the charges. That too, was rejected by the court because he failed to say who, specifically, said what.

It is also interesting to note that some of Federici’s and/or his legal counsel’s responses to the court seemed to me to imply that people working together to write planned criticism constituted a conspiracy. I am not saying this is the case with these particular defendants, but if it were the case that planned criticism were actionable, many peer reviewed journal critiques by multiple authors would be in danger of being sued.

Of course, this is not the case. I am not a lawyer, but the legal definition of conspiracy is really not difficult for the average layperson to grasp. In order to be a conspiracy, the individuals had to have come together to commit an illegal act or an act that is legally actionable in a civil court. For example, if a group of people conspired to deliberately lie about someone, that would qualify. If people conspired to lie that I was fired from FSU or did sexual favors for people for endorsements, for example, that would be actionable because that is clearly a malicious lie that has no basis in fact. However, if people come together to conduct a critical analysis of claims being made by a mental health professional and that analysis constitutes the sincerely held position of the critics that the person is recommending parents practice potentially harmful procedures on children such as prone restraint, then the conspiracy charge would fail.

The bottom line is that people have the freedom to come together to protest and criticize and that would not qualify as conspiracy as long as they refrain from illegal acts and do not deliberately lie. Were that not the case, where would the civil rights movement be today? People come together to criticize and protest all kinds of things and that is perfectly legal. It only stops being legal when people come together to deliberately lie about someone or commit illegal acts against someone.

It is interesting to note that since the dismissal of this case, the number of false, obscene and I believe malicious internet smear postings about me have greatly increased. Not pointing the finger at anyone in particular — just making a note of this most interesting correlation which appears to be a naturally occurring form of the A-B-A design.

The dismissal hearing transcript of March 4, 2011 will become public record following the 90-day waiting period, on June 23, 2011. I would like to add the court reporter, Renecia Wilson, to my list of people I have acknowledged and thanked for their work on this case. In many ways, as the court reporter who provided an objective, verbatim transcript of what occurred at that meeting, she was the most important person in that courtroom because without that, much of the important detail of what transpired that day would have been lost forever and subject to endless misinterpretations to suit various agendas. It was especially important for me to have such a transcript, since I was unable to be present in the courtroom, but even if I were, no human being is capable of having a 100% accurate memory of what transpired and the verbatim transcript is already showing differences between what some people who were there have reported and what transpired. Having such a record is priceless.

Defamatory Internet Postings about Monica Pignotti: A Typical Day

Here is a typical day of defamatory internet postings about me just to give people an idea of how outrageous this smear campaign has become.

Today, March 27, 2011, following the appearance of Daniel Ibn Zayd’s commentary on the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti et al and Federici’s “response” to critics and my subsequent commentary on this blog about it, anonymous postings were made about me to the following newsgroups by someone who was obviously very upset about this:

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.lebanon/topics

Monica Pignotti and the Black Hand of Jhadist Terror:

Makes completely false and obviously malicious defamatory statements about me with regard to terrorist activities that are not even remotely true.

Daniel Ibn Zayd and Monica Pignotti:

Falsely states that I am appearing in court on charges of association with a terrorist and that I worked for a flight school in Florida prior to 9/11. Again, both malicious lies that can be completely refuted with a search on PACER that shows the only court case I have been involved in is Federici v Pignotti et al which is now dismissed and has nothing to do with terrorism. The only other lawsuit I was even named in was a very short-lived counter suit by Hulda Clark’s organization 10 years ago, but I was never served with papers for that one so I was never actually sued and the suit was withdrawn. This one is especially ugly since in fact, I was living in New York City at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and watched the towers collapse which I could see from the hospital where I was working at the time. I had lived there for 21 years prior to that and did not move to Florida until the summer of 2006.

Monica Pignotti and Ibn Zayd: Mass Murder Plot:

Again, obviously false and defamatory. Qualifies as libel per se if the anonymous coward who posted this can be identified.

alt.religion.scientology:

Monica Pignotti: Personality Disorder?

Falsely states that I have a personality disorder and “abandoned” Advocates for Children in Therapy when I have done nothing of the kind and obviously online diagnosis by an anonymous coward is not valid. Newsflash: In non-cultic organizations, people are free to come and go as they so choose for reasons that have nothing to do with abandonment.

Additionally, whoever wrote this (I hope not a licensed mental health professional!) appears to have a misunderstanding of how abandonment relates to borderline personality disorder. The issue with people with BPD is that they feel they have been abandoned and fear being abandoned, not that they abandoned others although they do tend to have ambivalent relationships with others. This does not mean, however that anyone who leaves an organization or severs ties with people has BPD. That’s the kind of assumption an amateur would make.

http://groups.google.com/group/misc.legal/topics

Inside the Monica Pignotti — ACT Split

More lies by an anonymous coward who knows nothing about this matter, which had nothing to do with legal fees or voting machine cases that have no relevance whatsoever to my life. The public records show that I had a completely different law firm represent me from AC T so that completely refutes the lie that there was a dispute over legal fees.  I recommend that the anonymous coward, if he has any ability to read, look at the legal documents and which law firms were representing each of us. Obviously someone is fishing for info that they are not going to get.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.radio.shortwave/topics

Yet another posting lying that I was fired from FSU when I was not (a lie about me that has been repeated endlessly for over a year, although the postings abated during the 3-month period of Federici v Pignotti et al.) I graduated from FSU and left in good standing in every way and have references to prove it that I supply to legitimate people requesting them.

That posting linked to another posting two days earlier on the same newsgroup that made defamatory statements about me with regard to FSU and divorce cases when I have never been involved in any divorce cases, ever in my life.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food.cooking/

Monica Pignotti is a TRAITOR

More lies about my relationship with ACT saying I abandon things and “write sensational articles”. I have written no such articles about ACT nor do I have any intention of doing so and the statement I am “known” as a “social work sex toy” is patently absurd.  Actually the only ones to use this term to describe me as this are the anonymous cowards who have been endlessly repeating that phrase. Anyone who knows me would be rolling on the floor laughing, as anyone who knows me knows how not like me that description is.

Monica Pignotti: Domestic Violence

Also from rec.food.cooking, lies that I was fired from FSU and have convictions for witness tampering and fraud. In fact, I have never been fired from any professional job I have ever held and a search of any criminal database or court database such as PACER will show that they will come up squeaky clean — no criminal convictions or charges of any kind, ever.

http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/browse_thread/thread/a3e0f8707aeb769c#

Monica Pignotti: Be Afraid, Very Afraid

In addition to the usual defamation and misleading portrayals (e.g. Bruce Thyer although like many people has in the past been divorced, he has not divorced recently and has been happily married for 20 years). The subject header of this posting is bordering on crossing the line into a threat.

Also from Sci.Skptic:

Monica Pignotti: Hot for Teacher

More of the usual obscene defamatation.

I post these just to reveal to readers what a typical day defamatory internet postings about me has been like, ever since the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti et al and I’m not even sure that I have listed all the postings that have appeared about me today. Coincidence? You be the judge.

And again, for people who think I should just ignore these and they will go away, they won’t. I have tried that and it didn’t work. The only thing that made the postings mostly go away was the existence of legal action — they greatly decreased with no overtly libelous postings during the period Federici v Pignotti was active. Following its dismissal, the smear campaign resumed in full force. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Please keep in mind that cyber abuse is a relatively new phenomenon and so don’t be so certain that the prevailing wisdom to ignore cyber abusers is correct. Remember when the common wisdom for rape victims was not to fight back and just go along with it so they wouldn’t get killed? Well, that one turned out to be very wrong and the current advice is for rape victims to scream as loudly as they can and fight back. In my opinion, the same goes for victims of cyber abuse and I refuse to stand silently by while my reputation is being trashed by malicious liars.

I just noticed in my site stats for this blog (which gives terms people searched on to get here) that someone searched on the question “what kind of information do i need on a poster for a smear campaign?”

To respond to that question, if the smear campaign against me is any indication, my answer would be no information whatsoever. Entire smear campaigns can be based upon nothing more than fabrications, especially if the people posting are able to remain anonymous and not accountable for their actions.

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