Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘libel per se’

Searches that brought people to this blog this AM

Sometime in the wee hours of this morning, my blog stats indicate the following creepy searches were done in my name, that brought people to this blog, most likely because there are lies regarding these topics that I have posted about here. My comments are in brackets and should help whoever did this search to find what he/she is looking for. In order to keep the content of this blog clean, I have deleted parts of some words that I am sure people can figure out.

monica pignotti s__x life [nobody’s business, but many lies posted on this topic] 1
monica pignotti faculty evaluations[I provide references from faculty who have actually worked with me, to people with a legitimate reason to request them. Go here to read a statement of support from 47 mental health professionals, many quite prominent faculty members] 1
monica pignotti teaching evaluations [again, these were good and I make them available to prospective employers who request to see them.] 1
where is monica pignotti offering s_x [Easily answered in one word: Nowhere] 1
monica pignotti defamation case [This is Ronald S. Federici v Pignotti et al, dismissed by a Federal judge in March 2011 for both failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and jurisdiction. Go here to read documents. Following the dismissal of this case, the smear campaign against me escalated. Contrary to the lies that have been posted, I have not “denounced” my lawyers and in fact, have praised them for their excellent job in successfully defending me.] 1
monica pignotti adoption clinic [I do not, nor have I ever, been involved in any adoption clinic, nor do I plan to. This is a lie that has been posted about me, perhaps to attempt to misportray me as a business competitor when the fact is I have not made any money from my critiques of adoption “experts”] 1
monica pignotti pr__stitute in florida [This is a fabrication by anonymous posters. I have never been a pr_stitute, anywhere, ever. Clearly, I am the one here who is being defamed on the internet and in many states, lies about serious sexual misconduct are considered libel or defamation per se, meaning it is considered so bad, that it would not even be necessary for the plaintiff to prove damages to win a case, were the anonymous posters to be identified and sued. For example, in Virginia, “attributes to the plaintiff the commission of some criminal offense involving moral turpitude, for which the party, if the charge is true, may be indicted and punished” constitutes defamation per se.]

Anonymous Poster Responds to Monica Pignotti Statement of Support with More Lies

The anonymous poster has now responded to the Statement of Support for Monica Pignotti.

In this statement, thus far as of May 17, 2011, signed by 47 psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals, reasonable requests were made, that:

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.

The response was all too predictable, although it will be interesting to see whether the individual, if he does decide to harass the universities of the people who signed, will have the courage to put his own name to this or will try to do the harassment anonymously.

[Update: Since this response was received and I passed it along to those who already signed and those who I asked to sign since then, my support is only growing stronger and some of the new signers have provided me with the complete contact info for their affiliation and no one has withdrawn their support, in spite of the fact I fully informed them of this threatening response. Obviously these are people who are not going to allow bullies to intimidate them by threats to tattle to their institutions when they have done nothing wrong.]

I post the response, in full, to demonstrate how malicious this smear campaign has become [my responses are noted in blue].  Nomen Nescio, Latin for “name unknown” is a generic name of an e-mail address that renders the sender anonymous. It hides their IP address, making such e-mails or postings very difficult to trace. Other common generic names under which the smear campaigners have posted include George Orwell and Anne Onime.

From: Nomen Nescio <nob…@dizum.com>
Date: May 8, 11:01 am
Subject: Monica Pignotti: EPIC FAIL
To: alt.religion.scientology

Monica Pignotti has sealed her fate.

There will be NO compliance with the “demands” in the statement on her website.

[Interesting, since what was called for (the word “demand” was not used in the statement) was quite reasonable: For the anonymous posters to identify themselves and rather than attack me, clearly state their actual concerns in recognized venues. Instead, they choose to continue their current smear campaign consisting of red herrings, personal attacks and outright fabrications. The response is that there will be “NO compliance” with our request that they conduct themselves as decent human beings. This says more about them than it does about me or those who signed.]

Many of the signatories to her strident manifesto, such as Bruce Thyer, have vested interests in concealing the truth about her. Efforts to disseminate the TRUTH about her will continue, unabated.

[No “TRUTH” has been concealed about me. I have been more than open about my past, far more than most people are about their activities of their youth and most of what has been posted about me are lies that, if the poster put his name to them (e.g. saying I was fired from FSU when I was not), would likely be actionable in a court of law.]

In addition, the institutions whose faculty members have been foolish enough to sign this document will be contacted and retractions will be demanded. If these people wish to speak out, let them speak on their own.

[It will be interesting to see if this harassment is also conducted anonymously and if so, how universities would respond to “demands” and threats anonymous individuals who are upset because they are being asked to conduct themselves as decent, honest human beings. Whether or not the complainers identify themselves, they are in no position to “demand” anything.]

Some facts about Monica Pignotti:

1) She dropped out of college to join Scientology. She spent years in this crazy cult, and rose to the highest levels, containing scientifically unsound beliefs about alien warlords and the atom bombing of volcanos. While in Scientology, Monica Pignotti became romantically involved with Quentin Hubbard, one of the children of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

[It is no secret that I was involved in Scientology, although I was never “romantically involved” with Quentin although he was an adult when I knew him. What this neglects to mention is that this is ancient history. I left and repudiated Scientology in 1976, 35 years ago, returned to and completed college and eventually went to graduate school and got an MSW and an PhD]

[2) After leaving Scientology, Monica Pignotti became a devotee of Roger Callahan and his bizarre therapies, Thought Field Therapy and Energy Therapy. These systems claim to heal by tapping the body and at the most advanced levels, diagnosis is performed over the phone. Pignotti stopped practicing energy therapy and used her inside knowledge to criticize it.

[That was 20 years after leaving Scientology. Again, this is no secret that I practiced TFT, although the “diagnosis” is not mental health or medical diagnosis. TFT is simply tapping on acupressure points on the body (like acupuncture without the needles — hardly considered “bizarre” and actually acupuncture is accepted in many mainstream hospitals although I have my own criticisms of it). I did not practice “Energy Therapy” and have no idea what it is, nor does Callahan have any therapy by that name. Perhaps the misinformed person is thinking of Energy Psychology, also not Callahan’s but an offshoot of TFT that I never practiced). As for TFT, I stopped practicing it over 7 years ago and many of the people who signed this statement have been aware of this since I left and have given me great support. This will hardly come as news to them.]

3) Pignotti entered academia. She was dismissed from a teaching position at Florida State University (FSU) for several reasons. First, she made obscene sexual propositions to faculty members. Second, many students complained that she wasted classroom time with anecdotes about time travel, Scientology, Roger Callahan, being single, and her dislike of geology.

[This is a libelous statement. If the poster put his name to it, this would be actionable in a court of law, possibly even as libel per se. I was not fired from FSU, nor did I engage in any of the activities mentioned, although I have on a number of occasions been invited to guest lecture classes on the topic of  Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy and pseudoscience and also on discrimination against single people. Those lectures, where I presented my research on TFT and reviewed research on single people, were well received and legitimate and no complaints were made about them and lecturing on those topics certainly would not be grounds for dismissal. I have no idea where the reference to “geology” came from since this is not my area of expertise and have never said I “disliked” it. Anecdotes to illustrate a point are an acceptable and highly encouraged aspect of good teaching. I obtained my PhD from FSU and left only because I graduated and FSU does not hire their own graduates in tenure-track positions. My teaching at FSU was not as a faculty member, but as a PhD candidate to fulfill a yearly stipend I and all PhD students and candidates received the first three years in the program and possibly beyond, but cease upon graduation.]

[4) Monica Pignotti spent several years aligned with a fringe medical group. The head of this group, Larry W. Sarner of Loveland, CO, has bachelor’s degrees in political science and mathematics, and is unqualified to evaluate psychological interventions. Sarner bilked lenders and investors out of several million dollars on a scheme to develop and deploy voting machines. Even though Pignotti, for whatever reason, has parted company with Sarner, she continues to insist that his voting machines worked.

Red herring alert!

[This is a huge distortion and the voting machine part is a red herring. Larry Sarner is Executive Director of a non-profit advocacy organization I was involved with called Advocates for Children in Therapy. I served on their informal professional advisory board for four years. It is not a “medical group” and it would seem that the only people who have taunted the word “fringe” to describe it are proponents of the practices it has exposed (on the contrary the APA-endorsed APSAC Task Force Report cited publications from people in ACT while they advised against the practices ACT criticizes). The impetus for this smear campaign against several people involved in ACT is because we dared to criticize and expose potentially harmful “attachment”, coercive restraint and other similar therapies for children. I have “continued to insist” nothing about voting machines (I made one statement two years ago on a Randi forum which is taken out of context, where I also called them on this red herring, irrelevant to the practices of the therapist we were criticizing). I couldn’t care less about whether they worked or not and I had no involvement in the Sarner voting machine case whatsoever (it was concluded a decade before I even met Mr. Sarner), although based on court documents and docket sheets I have examined, these statements are false, as the cases were all civil, not criminal cases and he was never charged with fraud. The “voting machine” matter is a huge red herring.]

5) Pignotti applied for a position at New York University (NYU). She did not get it. She concocted a fantastic story about how her personal information was compromised, and she demanded that NYU conduct a full investigation.

[I did not “concoct” any fantastic stories. The fact is that although I did not discuss publicly my application for a faculty position, someone, somehow, by some unknown means found out about what should have been kept confidential and posted several times that I applied and then, that I did not get the position, before I received such notification. Lies have been posted about this matter when, in fact, I was considered a qualified applicant and simply did not get it because they decided someone else was a better fit for the position than I was. I have never challenged their decision, which I completely accept,  nor do I intend to. My concerns of how information was leaked, resulting in the obscene postings is a legitimate concern. It is reasonable that applications for faculty positions ought to expect that they will not have the information of their having applied, be publicly posted accompanied by lies about the reasons they did not get the position.]

NYU refused, and has stated, publicly, that they are glad they did not hire her.

[NYU has made no such public statements that I am aware of. If NYU had made any public statements about me of that nature, surely the anonymous posters would have been delighted to link to them or produced documentation, which they have failed to do. Instead, as usual, what we have are unsubstantiated, bald assertions.]

6) Pignotti considered applying for a position at Brigham Young University (BYU) which would have required adherence to the BYU honor code. Pignotti wrote a scathing blog post denouncing the Mormon faith.

[I have not “denounced the Mormon faith”. In fact, since the age of 14, I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I have consistently defended the Mormon faith, even while inactive. Some cult experts such as Steven Hassan consider it a cult and I have defended it as not being a cult and have praised them for their open disclosure of their Honor Code.]

7) Pignotti associates with violent criminals. As an example, Robert Clark, who uses the pseudonym “henri” who has been convicted of making bomb threats against both churches and weather stations.

[I have no association with “violent criminals”. This statement is false on two counts 1) Rob Clark has never been charged with or convicted of any such criminal activity. If he had been, surely the Scientologists would have included documents on their Religious Freedom watch but not even the Scientologists make that claim about him. As I understand it, Clark has since become an attorney and 2) I have no association with Rob Clark whatsoever. The fact that he has been involved in some internet discussions on a public forum I was also on, does not mean I am associated with him. In fact, although he has at times defended me, on several occasions he attacked me.]

So there you have it, folks. The response is brazen as ever. Since no names were even mentioned other than mine in the statement of support and it clearly stated that the posters were unknown, it will be interesting to see what kind of threats the anonymous individuals will make if they do decide to harass those who signed. Will “Nomen Nescio” threaten to sue us all? That would be an interesting case. While “John Does” have been named as defendants, it is difficult to imagine how a “John Doe” or a “Nomen Nescio” could be a plaintiff in a defamation case, which would likely be laughed out of the courtroom.

The anonymous cyber smearers can repeat the lies about me until they are blue in the face but they will still remain lies, no matter how often they are repeated.

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.

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