Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘SLAPP lawsuits’

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

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.

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.

Advocates for Children in Therapy Statement about Ronald Federici’s Lawsuits

Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT), a non-profit advocacy organization, has now made a statement about Ronald Federici’s three attempts to sue them, first in small claims court where he lost against defendants ACT, Jean Mercer and Charly Miller, next in an appeal against those same defendants which he nonsuited and third in a case that was dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge in Eastern District Court of Virginia against those same defendants plus Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner and Monica Pignotti.  ACT also commented on the internet smear campaign. The statement can be read on ACT’s website.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POSTER SANDAU CHIROPRACTIC SERVICES

e-mail smilax_san@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          3

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

re.radio.shortwave

alt.revisionism

POSTER DIDACTICDERIVAT@YAHOO.COM

e-mail didacticderivat@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          46

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.health.diabetes

rec.puzzles

sci.lang

sci.med

sci.med.diseases.hepatitis

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.indian

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.usa

soc.culture.usa

soc.men

talk.politics.misc

POSTER NOAUTH

e-mail a@remailer.gabrix.ath.cx

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          39

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

soc.culture.usa

POSTER ANNE ONNIME

e-mail   anonym@rip.ax.lt

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          271

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.adoption.issues

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.politics

alt.politics.republicans

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

misc.legal

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang

sci.math

sci.psychology.misc

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.jewish

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.nordic

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.russian

soc.culture.taiwan

soc.culture.thai

sci.med

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  GEORGE ORWELL

e-mail nob@mixmaster.it

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          189

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.education

alt.magick

alt.recovery

alt.religion.mormon

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.legal

rec.arts.sf.written

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.pakistan

POSTER    ANONYMOUS

e-mail  cri@ecn.org

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          124

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.options

misc.legal

rec.bicycles.misc

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.math

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.palestine

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  NOMEN NESCIO

e-mail  nob@dizum.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          261

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

Nomen Nescio

nob@dizum.com

alt.baldspot

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

alt.support.depression.manic

alt.true-crime

ec.radio.shortwave

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang.japan

sci.math

sci.med

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.iranian

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.polish

soc.culture.turkish

uk.misc

POSTER  KULIN REMAILER

e-mail  remai@reece.net.au

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          69

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.stocks

misc.kids

misc.legal

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.indonesia

soc.culture.israel

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.malaysia

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.usa

Now come again, who is obsessed?

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

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

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


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.

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