Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘legal threats’

If you Google Monica Pignotti, Read This Statement of Support First

Update: On a more positive note, I have been able to move on from this smear campaign and have a happy, fulfilling life. I just returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. This photo was taken on October 17, 2012 in beautiful San Benedetto, Del Tronto, Italy as I walked along the beach. That is where my ancestors on my father’s side came from and Pignotti is a very well known and respected name in that town, as Pignottis own many businesses there, including the lovely hotel where we stayed. It has been a wonderful experience getting more in touch with my Italian roots!

Thankfully, even though it took me awhile to find a job in my field, I have been employed throughout this period and so was able to afford this trip. As of September 2012, I am employed in my field at my degree level as a lead Program Evaluator/Researcher to evaluate a home visiting infant mental health program, a Connecticut-based intervention model, that serves teen parents who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and their 0-5 year old children/infants.  Interventions such as the one I am evaluating which help to develop healthy, secure maternal child attachment supply positive alternatives to the harmful and/or ineffective approaches I have expressed my concerns about.

Finally, an employer is smart enough not to believe everything that comes up on a Google search and who sees the mentality of the cyber smear campaigners for what it is and realizes what an injustice it would be to penalize me for that and instead, evaluates me on my actual job performance, not out of context distortions of my distant past or outright lies that my background screen soundly refutes. Of course, I will continue to write and publish on exposing untested, ineffective and/or harmful therapy practices while actively working to develop positive, evidence tested alternatives. There are indeed positive, helpful ways to promote and develop genuine attachment and attunement between mother and child.

I have already received a hateful response from my pseud-anonymous cyber stalker about this, who has tried to post seven times to this and my other blogs. Although it is my policy to post comments from those who have disagreements with me and I welcome debate, I draw the line at hate, threats and libelous statements that this communication contained, repeating the usual lies. The person is obviously very upset that I am happy and doing well in my life and that any sane person who reads the content of the smear campaign can see what a disturbed individual this is. As more people are getting targeted for various reasons by internet smear campaigns, more understanding is developing of the mentality of cyber bullies and cyber stalkers and people are realizing they, rather than the targets, are the ones with the problem.

Although this adversity is not something I would have chosen for myself, much good has come out of it for me spiritually, as it has brought me closer to God and helped me to develop a faith I would not have likely otherwise known. This is something no one can take away and puts all else in its proper perspective. I can honestly say that although I had a rough few years, I am happier than I have been in a very long time.

That being said, internet smear campaigns appear to be an occupational hazard for mental health consumer advocates who choose to challenge certain mental health practices that are untested and yet have proponents who promote them and make unsupported claims.  If anyone has any questions about anything they read on the internet about me, please do not hesitate to contact me and ask and above all, please do not make any assumptions about what you read, since Google or other internet search engines cannot tell the difference between fact and fabrication.

If you Google Monica Pignotti (pronounced “Peen-yocht-tee”), you will notice many odd and false postings come up on Google searches of my name which are made by people who are upset about my expression of concerns about the practices of some mental health professionals.  In addition to the many false statements that have been posted about me (such as the lie repeatedly posted that I have been arrested/convicted of crimes and fired when I have never been arrested, much less convicted for anything in my life, nor have I ever been fired from any professional job I have ever held in my entire life), postings have been made in my name that I did not write and quotes have been placed around words I neither wrote nor uttered and bizarre pictures are posted of women with my name on them, who are not me. To put it briefly, don’t believe everything you read on Google searches or images. Please click here to read a statement of support signed by 48 of my colleagues who share my concerns.  People who are unfamiliar with this form of abuse may wonder why I even bother to respond to this, but you would be surprised how many otherwise intelligent people believe whatever they read online.

This statement shows that professionals in the relevant scientific community support my work and contrary to what anonymous smear campaigners and practitioners of questionable practices would want to lead the readers to believe, my work is accepted and supported by the scientific community and not controversial. The only controversy about my writings is within the fringe cliques of those whose work I have criticized who try to turn the tables and call me fringe and controversial when the support I have received as well as my track record of peer reviewed publications in reputable journals, shows otherwise. One of my main detractors is the author of a self-published book who practices a form of therapy which, by his own admission is controversial. This individual also attempted to sue me and several others and a year ago, the case was dismissed by a Federal judge who opined that my writings did not constitute defamation, but rather, were opinion and all charges against us were dismissed, affirming our right to free speech as well as academic freedom.

Posting under multiple anonymous identities make it appear that there are more such detractors than there actually are. In internet jargon, this practice of one person using multiple pseudonyms to make it appear there is a mob at work when it is really only a few people with an ax to grind, is known as sock puppetry.

I have references from professionals who know me and have worked with me on a day-to-day basis, which I will provide to anyone with a legitimate inquiry about my standing with FSU, who will refute the lie I was “fired” and give you a more realistic assessment of what it is like to work with me. Click here for further details about the lies that have been posted about me and FSU. A background check will prove I do not have a criminal record of any kind, not even minor traffic violations, nor have I ever been arrested or charged with anything, nor do I or have I ever worked in an adult bookstore, nor have I had sexual relationships with my co-authors or any other inappropriate relationships with anyone else. These are just a few of the many lies that have been posted about me mostly by posters using pseudonyms or anonymous posters.

Bottom line: For the past three years someone appears to be investing a great deal of time and effort running a smear campaign against me that amounts to classic propaganda tactics. My friends tell me that this means I must be doing something right and be effective in my exposure of dangerous therapeutic practices. Otherwise why spend so much time and effort to attempt to discredit me? The smear campaigners have fabricated and posted the worst, most obscene possible things that can be attributed to a human being that they can and invent and then lie that I did them.  Some of the postings are postings with my name on them that I did not post (forgeries) and in others, quotations are put around sometimes obscene words I never wrote and there are completely fabricated stories about me. In addition to the fabrications, events from my very distant past that occurred before I ever obtained any advanced degrees and I have long since repudiated, are being taken out of context and misportrayed by the anonymous posters. A key difference here is that I have learned from my past mistakes whereas the proponents of the therapies I have expressed concerns about apparently have not, hence their need to attack anyone who challenges them.

It is a common misconception to blame the victim of cyber smear campaigns of the sort I have been enduring. This is not unlike the attitude towards rape victims that existed before society’s consciousness was raised — the victim must have done something  to “ask’ for it, must be somehow deeply flawed, so the mythology goes.

The simple fact of the matter is that I challenge people who most people are too afraid to challenge for fear of being maligned in the way I have been. There is something in me that cannot in all good conscience remain silent when I see abuse occurring that many others seem to have no problem turning a blind eye to, although many privately agree with me.  For this, I have suffered consequences, but nevertheless, I continue because if I can make a difference in the lives of individuals, it is worth it to me.  The posters seem to feel that they are retaliating against my critical blogs, which they have characterized as “hate” websites. It appears that somewhere in their education, they missed learning to distinguish between expressing concerns about mental health practices that lack evidence to support claims being made on on hand and personal attacks and malicious lies, on the other hand.

Recently, the Russian Commissioner of Children’s Rights is raising similar issues my much-maligned colleagues and I have been raising, with regard to the unsupported beliefs of certain mental health professionals about internationally adopted children, especially children adopted from Russia who have been victims of serious abuse and in some cases, have died at the hands of their abusive parents while these adoption “experts” have testified in a way that blames the victims and gets the abusive parents off the hook or at least lessens their conviction. 

It should go without saying that decent, ethical professionals who are offering valid therapies are able to provide sound support for what they are doing and hence, have no need to attack their critics in this manner.

Here is a quote that seems appropriate to this situation: 

To date, 48 of my professional colleagues, whose names appear below the statement,  have signed the following statement of support. I thank and extend my deepest appreciation to each of them for their support and having the courage to take a stand with me on the important issues involving our professions that are at stake. If any prospective employers are reading this, I am more than willing to answer any questions you might have and address any and all concerns and provide you with the names and contact information for references who I have actually worked with who will put the lies about me to rest, once and for all. Here is the statement of support my colleagues have signed.

Statement of Support for Dr. Monica Pignotti [May 2011]

For the past two years, Dr. Monica Pignotti has been subjected to an ongoing and concerted internet smear campaign in response to her peer-reviewed and internet writings on potentially harmful therapy practices, particularly attachment and other similar therapies involving coercive restraint of children. The postings have mostly been made by anonymous and presumably pseudonymous posters on blogs, public newsgroups, and other internet websites. These statements have often been malicious, false, and even profane, and have included not only Dr. Pignotti but also some of her colleagues and supporters (see http://phtherapies.wordpress.com and https://monicapignotti.wordpress.com).

Although the posters are, to date, unidentified and unidentifiable, it is clear from their content that they are one or more individuals who are upset by Dr. Pignotti’s criticisms of certain interventions directed at vulnerable children, such as internationally adopted children with serious developmental disabilities and/or behavior problems. Rather than take the high road and address the substantive criticisms raised by Dr. Pignotti and her co-authors, the anonymous posters have elected to take the low road and personally attack and malign the critics.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose the cowardly and unethical behaviors of the internet posters, and strongly affirm Dr. Pignotti’s right to raise legitimate criticisms of their therapeutic practices without fear of false and defamatory attacks. Criticism of therapeutic practices that lack empirical support and may be harmful is vital for the profession and we are deeply concerned that smear campaigns could discourage others from engaging in public scrutiny of these and other practices. We call on the internet posters to stop such practices immediately. We further call on the posters to publicly identify themselves and to voice their criticisms in the form of clear descriptions of their concerns, using recognized venues such as peer-reviewed articles rather than in the form of baseless personal attacks.  Additionally, we ask that any prospective employers of Dr. Pignotti not allow the actions of these posters and the fact she has chosen not to remain silent, to impact their hiring decisions.

Signed:

Scott O. Lilienfeld, PhD, Professor of Psychology (Clinical), Emory University

Eileen Gambrill, PhD, Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Thyer, LCSW, BCBA, PhD, Professor of Social Work, Florida State University

J. Michael Bailey, Professor Northwestern University

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Evelyn Behar, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Carolyn Black Becker, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio

Stephen T. Black, Ph.D., Ph.D, Social & Clinical Psychologist

Richard R. Bootzin, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

Lynn Brandsma, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Chestnut Hill College

Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine

James C. Coyne, PhD., Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Professor of Health Psychology, University of Groningen

Bella DePaulo, PhD

Benjamin Emmert-Aronson, M.A., Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, Boston University

Wayne C. Evens, MSW, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Program Director, 1501 West Bradley Ave., Peoria, IL 61625

Trudy Festinger, DSW, Professor of Social Work, New York University

Howard N. Garb, YC 03, USAF, Ph.D., Chief, Psychology Research Service

Associate Editor, Military Psychology , 559 AMDS/SGPL, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX  [Please Note: Does not represent an endorsement by or the views of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.]

Brandon Gaudiano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Research), Alpert Medical School of Brown University

James Herbert, PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University

D. Lynn Jackson, Ph.D., LCSW (FL), ACSW, Assistant Professor/ Field Coordinator, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work and Addictions, 1155 Union Circle #311456, University of North Texas, Denton, TX  76203-1456

Robert K. Klepac, Ph.D., Psychology Training Director Emeritus, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Research Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio

Steven R. Lawyer, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Idaho State University

Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Bryn Mawr College, 300 Airdale Rd., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA

Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Psychology & Social Behavior Criminology, Law & Society Cognitive Sciences School of Law, University of California, Irvine, 2393 Social Ecology II, Irvine, Calif. 92697-7080  USA

Jeffrey M. Lohr, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas

Steven Jay Lynn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, SUNY Binghamton

Robin MacFarlane, PhD

Richard J. McNally, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Cathleen Mann, PhD, Independent Practice

Jean Mercer, PhD, Professor Emerita, Richard Stockton College

Michael B. Miller, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.E., Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, email: mbmiller@umn.edu, phone: 612-564-5364

Randal S. Pennington, PsyD, Training Director, Wasatch Mental Health, Provo, Utah

Brady J. Phelps, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, South Dakota State University

Ken Ruggiero, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina

Susan Kiss Sarnoff, DSW, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Department of Social Work

Sally Satel, MD, American Enterprise Institute

Lee Sechrest, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

Ian R. Sharp, Ph.D., Clinical Scientist and Senior Trainer, Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry

Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Director, Community/Clinical Graduate Training Program,  University of South Carolina

Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Social Psychologist, Author, Lecturer

George Tremblay, Ph.D., Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch University New England

Timothy R. Tumlin, Ph.D., Independent Practice, Darien, Illinois

Kristin von Ranson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology (Clinical), University of Calgary

Hollida Wakefield, M.A. Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice, Northfield, MN 55057

Robert L. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon

Robert W. Wildblood, Phd, Retired Associate Professor of Psychology, Licensed Applied Psychologist in Virginia, Licensed HSPP in Indiana

Alexander Williams, M.A., Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, University of Kansas

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John Knapp, LMSW: Timeline of My Very Limited Contacts With Him

UPDATE: As of January 14, 2014, after a lengthy process of investigations and hearings on a complaint filed by his former client, John Knapp’s license to practice Social Work in New York State has been revoked. Click here for further links and details.

Update September 28: As of this afternoon, Knapp appears to have taken down the blogs referred to, so some of these links to the blog in question might no longer work.

Update August 30: John Knapp just made a posting to his own blog with a very misleading heading that I was “120 days on the same subject and still counting”. This implies that I was posting about something for 120 days, which is completely false. What happened is what I described below. I contacted him 120 days ago about a concern I had. We had a discussion about it, which I allowed him to have the last word on, the discussion took place and concluded on one day, May 2. In fact, about 120 days elapsed with no communication between Knapp and myself.  The next communication between us was one John Knapp initiated on August 25, 2011 when he sent me a friend request on Facebook and then on August 26, John posted about his former client and also maligned her by calling her a cyberstalker and maligned me as well. John Knapp claims I have been “cyberstalking” him for the past 22 months. If you believed someone had been cyberstalking you, would you send them a “friend request” on Facebook? John Knapp sent me a friend request on Facebook and then when I sent him a response he did not like, challenging him on why he wanted to be my “friend” after posting the smear piece about me, he accused me of “cyberstalking” him. Either Mr. Knapp has formulated a mighty strange definition of cyberstalking or his accusations are disingenuous and he hoped no one would notice.

Mr. Knapp claims I reopened the “scab”. No, he reopened it on August 25, 2011 when he made the highly derogatory posting about his former client and attacked me. I refuse to stand by and remain silent when I witness what in my opinion is an egregious humiliation of a former client who filed a state board complaint against him and so yes, I did respond to this on August 26, 2011. People can read it for themselves along with the several other postings he has made about us over the past five days and decide if they agree.

Ironically, he posted our entire private e-mail dialogue on his website, which proves what I am maintaining, that we had a completely voluntary discussion, he never once indicated that he considered it harassment or asked me not to contact him and at its conclusion, I dropped it and let him have the last word. That is what he considers “cyberstalking” on my part. Having a dialogue with a colleague and extending him the courtesy of contacting him privately, as the NASW Code of Ethics says to do and I allowed him to have the last word. Go figure. Also observe the attempted double double bind. I would bet that if I had not attempted to contact him privately and instead had gone straight to his board, he would have complained that I did not follow protocol by first attempting to discuss the matter privately. It would seem that from that perspective, I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t, but what the board will look at is the actions of the individual they are investigating, rather than attempts to shift the blame to those who complained.

Here is a description of what happened in May:

John Knapp, LMSW has repeatedly accused me of harassing him for the past year. However, in  consulting my own records from my e-mail and Facebook messages, my contacts with him have been very limited and even my public postings about him are few and far between. Until recently I had not even mentioned his name on any of my blogs and only did so recently to defend myself against his very public attacks on me as well as a former client. Here is some more detail regarding the facts about my very limited contact with John Knapp over the past year.

May 2, 2011

I sent him a private message on Facebook expressing my concerns (go to the above link to read that and the entire dialogue).

My basis for this was a communication I received from Carol Welch (and yes, I recognize this is hearsay, which is why I contacted him privately to check it out and discuss it with him rather than publicly accuse him of anything), which she has more recently publicly discussed, maintaining that Knapp told her in a phone call: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Monica has Borderline Personality Disorder” as well as his posting on a public Facebook page where he appeared to be supporting someone who was grossly maligning me. Knapp denies this, so at this point it is his word against hers. Note that this action is proper and in keeping with the NASW Code of Ethics which says that if a professional has a problem with a colleague, to first try to discuss it with them privately and if that fails, go to their licensing board. The only reason I am making this public now is that both Knapp and Carol have already made this public and John Knapp has falsely accused me of harassing him and I need to post evidence to defend myself.

In response to this communication, Knapp e-mailed me asking for specifics. I let him know that my problem with his was that he appeared to be supporting someone on Facebook who was attacking me, but most importantly what Carol Welch had written me about Knapp’s alleged statement to her about me (Knapp and I only met very briefly at a conference in the mid-1990s and he doesn’t know me at all, much less ever assessed me). I let him know I considered this improper. His response to me was to deny everything and that he wanted to forward all this to Doug Mesner. My response was that at this time, since there was already a board complaint against him by a former client, I would be willing to do nothing for the time being and let that investigation run its course. Knapp also passed along to me some second-hand communication that he claimed to have received from Jim Martin, a mutual acquaintance that I had been helping Carol with her Board complaint. I let him know that this was completely false. I did not even know that she was filing the complaint until after she had already written it up and submitted it. This, in legal terms is what is known as hearsay and not valid evidence and in fact, it is false although helping someone with a Board complaint does not constitute harassment. Knapp had the last word in this exchange.

Note that John Knapp and I had both received hearsay about one another, but we have chosen to deal with it in very different ways. The way I dealt with it was to contact him privately to discuss it and I did not make any of this public until he and the other party did. His way of dealing with the hearsay about me was to very publicly accuse me of internet harassment. I note this in case to demonstrate that these are two very different things, in case someone wants to accuse me of having a double standard.

Until our most recent exchanges of August 25-27, that was the extent of my direct communication with John Knapp over the past year and that completely voluntary exchange that he voluntarily engaged in and never asked me not to contact him, could in no way be considered harassment.

On August 25, 2011, John Knapp sent me the following message on Facebook:

A note you might find interesting:http://www.facebook.com/notes/john-m-knapp-lmsw/brava-megan-singer-for-firing-your-therapistout-loud/249684775064547

He also sent me a “Friend” request.

That same day, he posted an article on his blog, attacking his former client and me, accusing me of harassing him.

In response to the article and his private message to me, I sent him the following private message on Facebook:

I see you have launched a highly defamatory attack on me on your website and you want to be my friend? What’s going on with you, John? And by the way, I am not unemployed. I am self employed. Now that I have informed you of that, if you leave that up, I will consider this an intentional posting of a falsehood on your part.

Although he took this as a legal threat, it was not intended that way. The rest of what happened and our very heated (initially private) exchange that Knapp chose to make public, that followed is described elsewhere and although heated, was in no way harassment and he no way asked me to stop (his attacks on me in this exchange were quite strong) and in fact, encouraged me to keep contacting him. There is a big difference between two people having a conflict via e-mail and harassment. It is only harassment if one party asks the other to stop and that person does not. Knapp at no point asked me to stop. In fact, he repeatedly responded to me. It was not until he blocked me that he indicated he wanted no more contact and I have not contacted him since, nor do I have any intention of ever contacting him again.

Strangely enough, his posting blocking me was also peppered with all kinds of questions my background. This is the same type of straw man issue that the AT crowd has tried to fling at their critics. My background is publicly posted in detail on my CV, should anyone care to examine it. However, my background is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand, which was the public attack Mr. Knapp has launched on his former client. I do happen to have significant clinical experience (which contrary to Knapp’s insinuations has nothing whatsoever to do with Scientology, which I left and fully repudiated 20 years before I obtained my professional credentials and I have never practiced Scientology as a mental health professional and TFT comprised only about 10% of my work with clients at the time I was practicing it and I have not practiced TFT for more than seven years and am, in fact, a highly published critic of TFT). However, it wouldn’t matter if I had no experience whatsoever. The issue, which Knapp appears to be attempting to distract from by shifting the attention to me, is his obscenity-laced public diatribes towards a former client and a colleague. It really doesn’t take any credentials at all to see that this is just plain wrong. The only requirement to be able to discern that is some shred of human decency.

So in the past year, John Knapp and I had two private, completely voluntary exchanges (the second one initiated by him) on two occasions that in no way fit the legal definition of harassment. Hence, Knapp has made another demonstrably false statement against me that I have been harassing him for the past year.

Public postings on the internet do not constitute harassment. However, until my blog posting of August 27, I had not even mentioned his name on any of my blogs that I could find and on that date, did so only to defend myself against his attacks. Knapp chose to post my private communications of August 26-27 to his blog. If people Google our names together, that will be borne out, although free speech permits me to express any opinions about him that I choose to.

The only other posting I could find about him was one I made in 2009 [which was what I was referring to in my communication to him of May 2, 2011) on one of my blogs entitled “Symptom Lists Can Be Powerful Things” where I criticized some material on his website, but did not mention him by name, again, not harassment, not defamatory and only the expression of my opinions and perfectly legitimate. There were also some discussions about this posting and Knapp’s work that Knapp himself participated in, on a list serv that I run, Anticult Controversies, but again, those discussions occurred over two years ago and Knapp was on the list, at my invitation which he accepted. No communication was begin forced upon him and in no way could this be construed as harassment.

So those are the facts, which soundly refute John Knapp’s accusations that I have been harassing him for the past year, which I have shown are demonstrably false. Anyone reading this blog will see that my attention in the past year has been taken up with a number of matters that had nothing to do with Mr. Knapp who I thought of very little until he began his current, very public attacks on me.

I predict the anonymous smear campaigners who are not affiliated with Mr. Knapp as far as I know, who are upset with my criticism about certain adoption therapists, will try to piggyback off of Mr. Knapp’s profanity-laced postings denigrating me. Just watch.

Mr. Knapp has already piggybacked off of them by quoting some of their material about me, including their prediction “when she appears in court, it will be a complete circus” which turned out to be far from the case. Not only did that one not come to pass, but my lawyer went to court and made a very solid argument in my defense, that got the case dismissed. The proceeding was a dignified one in Federal court where I won my motion for dismissal on both the grounds of the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and also jurisdiction, not a circus at all.

The most laughable part of all this is that John Knapp, on his Facebook page, is now asking for an apology from those he has victimized with his public smear campaign after he called his former client a cyberstalker and made statements that, according to that client, are complete fabrications and in my opinion has egregiously violated the NASW Code of Ethics by making public, derogatory remarks about a former client maligning a colleague in a number of obscenity-laced diatribes. Here are some passages that apply:

1.12 Derogatory Language Social workers should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.

and this: 2.01 Respect

(a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.

(b) Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, political belief, mental or physical disability, or any other preference, personal characteristic, or status.

and this: 2.11 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues

(a) Social workers should take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues.

(b) Social workers should be knowledgeable about established policies and procedures for handling concerns about colleagues’ unethical behavior. Social workers should be familiar with national, state, and local procedures for handling ethics complaints. These include policies and procedures created by NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, employers, agencies, and other professional organizations.

(c) Social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to be productive.

(d) When necessary, social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should take action through appropriate formal channels (such as contacting a state licensing board or regulatory body, an NASW committee on inquiry, or other professional ethics committees).

My actions of contacting him were entirely proper and in keeping with (c) above and after that failed, I did (d) and as a result, the NYS board is now in possession of John Knapp’s blog diatribes denigrating his client and colleagues.

And note the passage about dual relationships, which says nothing about there having to be a quid pro quo and note especially the last two sentences:

(c) Social workers should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers should take steps to protect clients and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. (Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to clients in more than  one relationship, whether professional, social, or business. Dual or multiple relationships can occur  simultaneously or consecutively.)

An apology? The irony is rich indeed. Let’s let that state board complaint run its course, see what its outcome is and we’ll see who needs to apologize to whom. Since there is nothing in my activities that even remotely fits the legal definition of cyberstalking or defamation, John Knapp needs to take the time to learn about my history and track record which includes a very recent legal victory in Federal court, getting a case against me dismissed by someone who tried to silence me and failed. Click here for some interesting reading. If Mr. Knapp has even the remotest fantasy that I can be bullied into silence while exercising my very legitimate and constitutional rights to free speech, he has chose the wrong person to try to bully.

Also observe an interesting double standard at play. There are numerous examples of former members and other critics of cult leaders doing much more than I have done in this case, to expose the cult leader and express their opinions. Sometimes this sort of criticism has gone on for decades and I applaud it and completely support the courage of the ex-cult members who blow the whistle. However, when it comes to figures in the anti-cult movement, it seems that such criticism is not acceptable and some behave no differently from cult leaders and try to silence critics with smear campaigns and threats of legal action. It seems that some people hold anti-cult leaders to a very different standard than cult leaders. Sometimes I have great difficulty telling the difference when it comes to the dynamics that I observe at play.

Clarification Regarding the So-Called History Making Lawsuit Blog

Update 12/8/2010: Although the lawsuit was not filed on the date the anonymous blog claimed (10/1) a phone call to the Fairfax County Circuit Court Clerk’s office has confirmed that on November 24, 2010 Ronald Federici filed a lawsuit against me, four other individuals and an organization. As of today’s date at the time of this posting, I have not been served with any papers, nor has anyone attempted to serve me with such papers. If anyone does, I will accept service. Suffice it to say for now, I welcome the opportunity for the facts to be presented regarding these issues and am hoping that this matter will be resolved in a manner that is fair and just.

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Some misunderstandings have arisen regarding this other WordPress blog entitled A History Making Lawsuit which is claiming that a lawsuit has been brought against me. One person on a list serv (I am not on the list serv but was made aware of it) jumped to the completely false conclusion that I am being sued by Scientologists. This is wrong on two counts.

  • First, there is no evidence I am being sued at all. The claim was made on October 1 on that blog that I had been sued and to date, I have not been served with any papers. In today’s posting a “case number” was given which I found out was not even in a searchable format on the internet. The only thing that comes up on a Google search is that blog and the VA case numbers I did find did not begin that way.
  • Second, the person the blog is claiming is suing me (although I repeat, to date, I have no evidence he is) is not a Scientologist. The person is Ronald Federici, PsyD, a Virginia licensed psychologist who has been threatening to sue me since July 2009 because I have criticized some of his writings. The blog in question explicitly states it is Dr. Ronald Federici, so there is no need to guess here. I don’t know if Federici or one of his supporters or someone he hired is writing the blog, but the claim is that Federici is suing me. Federici already sued some other people (not me, but people I am associated with) in small claims court, lost, and has a few more months to appeal those cases. It is definitely not Scientology.
  • Scientology has absolutely no reason to go after me. I left Scientology 34 years ago and am no threat to them at all. They are currently using their resources to go after Marty Rathbun and other very recent, very high level defectors with much to tell and have been all over the news, whereas I have nothing new to tell and they couldn’t care less about me and that’s just fine by me.
  • I have every right to criticize Dr. Federici. Any factual statements I have made, I have backed up with evidence and I have expressed my opinions about that evidence. I have repeatedly invited Dr. Federici, if he thinks I have gotten any facts wrong, to provide me with specific evidence to the contrary, but to date, no such evidence has been forthcoming. So far, no response with any specifics which is what he would have to do in court. In court, he would have to provide actual factual statements, prove the defendants wrote them, prove they are false and prove that the defendants knew they were false and that this damaged him.
  • I will not back down. Just imagine a world where people are so afraid of lawsuits, that they are afraid to challenge something they see that they sincerely believe is wrong. If this happens, we might as well be living in a totalitarian dictatorship and I am not willing to live my life that way.
  • Here is a summary of some of the main criticisms I have of Dr. Federici, who is a licensed clinical PsyD psychologist, not a Scientologist.
  • I am not a “therapist” and I have no business interest whatsoever in this matter. I am not a “business” competitor of Dr. Federici’s in any way, shape or form. The postings about me offering adoption services are false and were made via anonymous remailers. I am offering no such services. My motivation is loyalty to values and doing the right thing.

Let’s have a look at the track record here. To sum up,

  • Postings were made saying that criminal charges were being filed against me and I received threatening e-mails about this, sent via anonymous remailers saying I was “finished”. That turned out to be a lie.
  • Subsequently, postings were made that I had been arrested, charged with harassment by computer, jailed in Florida, placed in solitary for fighting with inmates, reading vampire novels while in prison, Sarner posted bail, Sarner revoked bail, was fighting and awaiting extradition to Virginia– all deliberate lies. Pure fiction. None of it happened. I was never charged or arrested for anything and have done nothing that would lead to such charges. As an interesting PS to this, it turns out that it is Federici who may be the fan of vampire novels as his picture appears on a web page on a book signing for a Dracula novel. Nothing wrong with that. Just sayin.
  • The lie was posted that I was trying to sabotage an adoption cruise. Here’s my posting setting the record straight on what really happened.
  • The lie was posted that I am offering adoption services and am setting up a center in 2011 in California. I have no such plans and am offering no such services. This seems to be an attempt to misportray me as a business competitor.
  • The lie was posted on October 1, 2010 that Federici had brought a lawsuit against me and in subsequent weeks, postings I was running from service of papers appeared. No one has ever attempted to serve me with any such papers and I have received none in the mail.
  • Now the claim is being made that the case has a number and has been filed. Note that this is essentially an admission that the postings at the beginning of October were lies, since if they had been filed back then they would have had a case number then and service would have been made during that month. With a track record like that, who in their right mind would believe anything on those anonymous blogs. There have simply been too many lies to believe anything these folks are posting about me.
  • If they were really suing me would they be stupid enough to tip their hand in the way they have in the History Making Lawsuit, revealing many of the questions they plan to interrogate me with and material they are going to demand from me? Unlikely, although I must confess that in the past, I have been guilty of overestimating intelligence and underestimating stupidity.
  • A more reasonable explanation, in my opinion, would be that they’re trying to scare me into giving up my legitimate rights to express my concerns about the interventions being promoted by Ronald Federici in his books and media appearances.
  • Unless I actually have court documents in my hands or see them on a legitimate court website, I have no reason to believe what has been posted.
  • Of course, anyone can sue anyone else for any reason, but that does not mean that the case is legitimate and if that were to happen, I would receive support from individuals in the scientific mental health community who no doubt would consider this a threat to the freedom to criticize that is so vital for scientific mental health practices to move forward. Because of the high value I place in freedom to criticize and its necessity if there is any chance of scientific mental health practice existing at all, even if I were to be sued, I would not back down.
  • The recent blogs are ranting on and on about how yes, its “REAL”, really it really is this time!  Rants in all capital letters are being posted asserting that the Fairfax case is real, calling us “crazy”. Yeah, right, shouting in all capital letters and calling us “crazy” really makes your arguments more compelling — not. And these are people who work with children who they claim have problems with pathological lying? Some role models.
  • It is also worth noting that even if the worst case scenario were to materialize and he somehow succeeded in silencing ACT and certain individuals in the US, there would still be no way for him to stop people who live far outside the jurisdiction of the US from speaking out. For instance, Daniel Ibn Zayd, who I have no association with whatsoever, has begun to post some very strong criticisms of Ronald Federici and because he lives in a country where he cannot be stopped, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to silence him. He can criticize Federici all he wants and as far as I have been able to determine, there is nothing that Federici can do about it. This same thing happened when people began speaking out on the internet against Scientology. Ultimately on the internet, even though selected individuals can be stopped, free speech cannot be stopped because there will always be people who cannot be silenced, due to their geographical location. I have to note the irony, however, of the fact that Ibn Zayd, being in a country outside the US is freer to speak his mind on the internet than those of us in the US are. The average person would assume just the opposite — that we in the US would be freer and this may be the case on some issues, but not necessarily so. This really should give people pause to consider what is happening here in the US to chill free speech and how what kind of legislation might be proposed to remedy that.

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