I’ve noticed a trend in amongst the so-called “skeptics” who have, from the get-go, denied every single claim of harassment in the community. That trend is denialism masquerading as skepticism, and a willingness to lie about who said what, when. That’s why I’ve been fighting that trend by building timelines. Someone needs to document what was actually said, and what can be reasonably inferred from these events. It also helps to document the attacks launched by certain people against certain other people, because it helps define the tribal lines against which these denialists are aligning.
One of these big accusations of harassment has resurfaced in the past few weeks, with new movements occurring for the first time in months. As a refresher, here’s all the points from my sexual harassment accusations timeline.
I don’t claim to know for certain that these allegations are true, but I can certainly develop a narrative that, I think, accounts for all the actual points we apparently do know, as well as what we could reasonably extrapolate.
August 6th, 2013
Possibly emboldened by Ashley Paramore’s stand, Karen Stollznow comes forward with her own story of having been serially sexually harassed and assaulted over the course of several years. (DOWN)
Ian Murphy points the finger at Ben Radford as the serial harasser discussed in Karen Stollznow’s post, via Twitter.
PZ Myers updates a post linking to Stollznow’s blog several hours after Ian Murphy names Radford to verify that a number of others had named him as well in private emails.
August 7th, 2013
Carrie Poppy releases a series of email bombs about the Ben Radford case and describes the major events leading up to her leaving her job as Communications Director of JREF after being serially mistreated by DJ.
August 8th, 2013
10:35am Central: Matthew Baxter, Karen Stollznow’s husband, in a comment on Blake Smith’s Facebook page, corroborates Stollznow’s story. Speaking directly to Ben Radford, he says that Radford persistently continued to contact Stollznow after being asked for years to stop. Baxter says that he and Stollznow have copies of correspondence backing this up. He also says that when Stollznow cut off communication with Radford, Radford called her “disrespectful.”
August 12th, 2013
Joe Anderson corroborates Karen Stollznow’s story, stating that he was one of the folks deposed by CFI’s investigators about the behaviour he witnessed from Radford.
The original post by Karen Stollznow is taken down after Ron Lindsay sends a letter to Scientific American. Karen is told by SA staff that it was taken down due to legal threats, while Ron Lindsay claims to have only asked for corrections. The Google Cache version of the page now also 404s, but a copy still exists on Scrible.
Stephanie Zvan analyzes the differences and commonalities extensively between Ron Lindsay’s letter demanding corrections of SciAm, and Karen Stollznow’s original allegations. Most relevant is the fact that Lindsay concedes the harassment actually happened.
That catches us up to where we were when I stopped adding to that original timeline.
Then comes the new developments.
February 17th, 2014
Ben Radford files a defamation suit against Karen Stollznow in Sandoval County, New Mexico.
February 26th, 2014
Ben Radford writes a blog post for CFI about false claims of sexual harassment. This post was so terrible in its lack of skepticism and its fallacy soup and motivated reasoning that the next day…
February 27th, 2014
Ron Lindsay himself disavowed Radford’s “false accusations” analysis in a post of his own, scathingly titled “Evidence-Based Reasoning: Comments on a Blog Post”.
March 3rd, 2014
Ben Radford posts a scan of the first page of the complaint to his Facebook wall.
March 4th, 2014
Ophelia Benson points out the timing of the lawsuit and the false claims post, and suggests that Radford may be seriously hurting his standing within CFI by playing such games with their blog. At the very least, it’s highly doubtful any lawyers were involved in either the blog post or posting the complaint to his Facebook wall.
March 22nd, 2014
Ben Radford posts an image to his Facebook wall titled “Retraction / Statement”. He claims that it is a statement by Stollznow, and that she had agreed to it as part of their settlement.
Transcript by HJ Hornbeck:
In 2013 Karen Stollznow accused Benjamin Radford of stalking, sexual harassment, and both physical and sexual assault. She made these accusations in a complaint to Ben Radford’s employer (the Center for Inquiry), in a guest blog written for the Scientific American Mind website and to various individuals in private communications.
These accusations and complaints against Benjamin Radford were false and Karen Stollznow retracts them. Radford was disciplined by the Center for Inquiry on the basis of them. One of Stollznow’s minor complaints (that Radford briefly stood in front of her during an argument when she wanted to walk past him) was the result of miscommunication during their relationship, but the accusations of sexual harassment, stalking, sexual assault, unwanted emails and the like were and are categorically false.
These serious and polarizing false accusations created divisiveness within the skeptical community. Most of the outrage directed at Radford as a consequence of the false accusations came from people with no knowledge of Radford’s and Stollznow’s relationship, who uncritically repeated the false accusations.
Stollznow cannot fully undo the damage Radford’s career and reputation cause by her false accusations, but this retraction is a sincere effort to set the record straight. Karen Stollznow and Ben Radford ask that bloggers and others that have repeated these allegations against Radford please remove them from their sites and not repeat them. Any blogs or other published references to these false accusations only serve to perpetuate the harm to both parties.
This issue has unfortunately detracted from the success that both Benjamin Radford and Karen Stollznow have worked hard to achieve in skepticism and public science education. Both Ben and Karen wish to move on with their lives and careers and put this matter behind them and that their friends and colleagues also let the matter drop.
There is no signature or anything marking this in any way as being part of legal proceedings.
He accompanied this statement with the following note:
Last year Dr. Karen Stollznow, a sometime colleague and former lover, accused me of, among other things, stalking and sexual harassment. At the time and for many months afterward I was prohibited from publicly responding to her claims. My lack of a response was widely taken as a tacit admission of guilt, but I am innocent of these accusations.
Karen has now acknowledged that her accusations were false and she has retracted her claims. Most of the public venom over this issue has come from people with no knowledge of our situation or relationship, and who uncritically repeated rumors and half-truths. Ironically this demonstrates exactly the sort of rush to judgment and lack of critical thinking that both Karen and I have spent years fighting. I have no further comment and we ask that this matter be laid to rest. Thank you.
Many “skeptics”, believing this to be absolutely true, swarm to Radford’s Facebook post to express their support. Considering the only “statement” on the matter was an entirely unofficial image of a Word document written in third-person, with nothing to indicate it was remotely official, and with no corroboration from Stollznow, some of us who’ve been following this story have been understandably skeptical.
One of his supporters, Amy Stoker, says: “It’s signed by Karen and notarized. Ben was over at my house tonight. I’m sure Ben will address this in the morning or at some point. For tonight he wanted to focus on those family and friends that have been by his side.”
PZ Myers comments on his blog that Stollznow didn’t write the statement, that Ben Radford did, and that she did not sign but he posted anyway.
March 23rd, 2014
Karen Stollznow takes to Twitter, making the first public statement on the matter since the lawsuit was filed, though the tweet itself is incredibly vague. She says, “Some “skeptics” should be more skeptical…”
A number of Ben’s supporters demand that she confirm or deny that the retraction was agreed-to by her. Amongst Ben’s supporters, a new meme grows — that those of us who suspect this “retraction” was an attempt at public coercion in the case are like Birthers demanding Obama’s birth certificate; that we’re being “hyperskeptical”. (The word has special significance to this blog and this whole fight, incidentally. I created that meme to combat the pro-harassment skeptics in the harassment policies campaign two years ago.)
March 25th, 2014
Stollznow again takes to Twitter to say: “I didn’t write it, I never agreed to it, I never signed it, and I’m not the liar here.”
Matthew Baxter writes, “I wrote a joint statement, they morphed it into an apology, said that I worked on it with them, and claimed that @karenstollznow agreed.”
Radford is notified of Stollznow’s tweet, but evidently not Baxter’s, because he posts this image of personal correspondences between he and Baxter on his Facebook post, and says “Yep, I saw that. I’ll be addressing that shortly. It’s a strange comment given that her husband Baxter e-mailed me a few days ago telling me that she agreed to it and would be having it notarized today.”
Given everything that’s public, we can make some fairly well-evidenced assumptions in this case, without assuming anyone’s lying about anything. The narrative squares with both parties’ accounts, short of the specific points of contention, and takes into account the different mindsets between the two parties. The narrative runs in my estimation thusly:
Radford and Stollznow were once in a relationship, while also maintaining a professional relationship in relation to CFI. At some point, they broke up. Judging by Radford’s repeated use of the phrase “former lover”, Radford evidently assumed the role of jilted lover at this point, continuing his pursuit of her.
In September of 2012, Stollznow and Baxter married. Despite this, Radford continued pursuing Stollznow. I presume that the break-up between Stollznow and Radford preceded the nuptials because of Baxter’s statements on the matter, and Joe Anderson’s corroboration, though I could be wrong.
The harassment got so bad during 2013 that Stollznow went to CFI and, with respect to their zero-tolerance policy, submitted to investigators the contents of her email and other personal communications. Inferring from Ron Lindsay’s statement on the matter, the investigators appear to have suspended Radford as a result of the investigation, but that suspension coincided with some vacation time that Radford was taking. Whether the vacation was a post-hoc rationalization of his time-off or not is a matter not in evidence, unfortunately, but the suspension is questionable regardless.
Lindsay claims in his letter that punishment was NOT set up to coincide with vacation time, so if there WAS punishment (which Lindsay strongly implies there was!), then it’s likely that someone told Karen he had been on vacation instead. My going suspicion on this point is that Radford himself suggested to others that he’d been taking vacation, rather than having been suspended, to explain his absence and save face. Stollznow may have heard this and taken the story at face value, and assumed duplicity on CFI’s part, rather than Radford’s.
Stollznow was stonewalled by CFI about the results of that investigation because they couldn’t release it “to the public”. She continued to work with Radford in a professional capacity, to do with CFI and Monster Talk.
During the groundswell of anti-harassment sentiment in the skeptical community evidently fed up with the culture of protecting harassers and harassment in general (chronicled in the anti-harassment campaign post mentioned at the top of this one), Stollznow found the courage to talk about her experiences publicly in Scientific American. She did not name Radford. Others in the skeptical community named Radford on her behalf, though, since they had been variously deposed by CFI’s investigators or witnessed this untoward behaviour themselves.
CFI then demanded that SciAm publish corrections on the post for “inaccuracies”, for which SciAm simply pulled the post, though it appears the only points of contention were how CFI treated the investigation. It can be inferred from Lindsay’s post that the investigation did in fact happen, and that Radford had in fact been “punished”, to whatever degree the punishment might actually be called one.
Carrie Poppy had stated that Stollznow claimed to have been assaulted on three occasions at TAM by Radford. The nature of these assaults is not public knowledge, though DJ Grothe was evidently informed and declined to act on them.
Radford later filed the defamation suit. I can guess that they were going to settle, since I have heard it rumoured a number of places that Stollznow did not have the resources to fight it, and Stollznow has repeatedly expressed a desire that this not impact her career and has evidently worked with him professionally despite the nature of their personal “relationship”. Matthew Baxter drafted a joint statement that would have been filed with the settlement, which Radford then altered to become an “apology” (and ostensibly also a retraction).
Radford then jumped the gun and posted it, evidently with the belief that Stollznow would sign and notarize this version of the statement on March 25th. However, having posted it in advance on his Facebook page, with alterations that Baxter evidently did not agree to, Stollznow and Baxter look to be prepared to fight.
One might reasonably postulate that despite their financial straits and their desire to make it all go away, Radford’s premature victory lap which spun events beyond what Baxter or Stollznow had agreed to has resulted in them being catalyzed to fight. If this is the case, expect a legal defense fundraiser soon.
UPDATE, 11:53pm CST March 25th: Radford has removed the retraction post and all comments from his Facebook page. He has replaced it with this statement:
Clarification on the Stollznow Retraction
As many of you know, several weeks ago I filed a lawsuit against Karen Stollznow, who last year accused me of, among other things, stalking and sexual harassment. Over the past few weeks I have been in discussions with Karen via her husband Matthew Baxter, who contacted me to discuss a retraction. He and I worked together on a statement, which I posted to my Facebook page on Saturday. It has come to my attention that Karen has now stated that she never agreed to the statement I posted. This surprised me and is a grave concern to me, and I want to clarify the situation.
I did not fabricate the retraction out of thin air; it was the result of a collaboration between myself, Matthew Baxter, and my lawyer. To begin with, I have not spoken with Karen personally in well over a year. Instead I have been dealing with her husband Baxter, who has acted as a mediator. The retraction statement I posted on Saturday evening March 22 was the same retraction statement that Baxter and I worked on for two weeks. Nothing had been changed. Furthermore the retraction that Karen now disavows is the same statement that Matthew Baxter told me only a few days ago that Karen agreed to and would sign (though she could not get it notarized, which is needed to make it official, until Tuesday March 25).
Not only that but the morning of Saturday March 22 I wrote to Baxter and told him that, based on the agreement he told me Karen had agreed to, I wanted to go ahead and make the statement public, as I had been waiting over a year for the retraction. He replied, “Well we won’t be able to get ours signed and notarized right away but you can do what you want to do with this if you feel confident that nothing will go wrong.” (See the attached screen shot of our e-mail exchange.) I responded to him that I understood, and that I was confident that nothing would go wrong as long as Karen had indeed agreed to the retraction. I told him that I planned to post it to Facebook that night. He never wrote back with any objections, and so I did.
Whether I jumped the gun or not is a legitimate question, and one I accept responsibility for. I probably should have waited until I had the signed and notarized statement in hand. But I saw no reason to wait to make it public, since I’d been told clearly several times that Karen had agreed to it. When I posted the retraction, I did so in the sincere belief that Karen Stollznow had agreed to it, and knowing that her husband Baxter had given his approval. I did not intend to deceive or mislead anyone, and I would never have posted the agreement if I had known she did not agree to it.
Now that I have a clear, formal acknowledgement from Karen that she has in fact disavowed the agreement that Baxter and I spent two weeks working on and that I was told several times she agreed to, I have deleted it. I’ll have no further comment on this matter, as anything I say will only further complicate matters for all of us. I look forward to this matter being resolved through the courts.
This does not square with Baxter’s indication that the statement had been morphed into an apology without Stollznow’s or Baxter’s knowledge. One or the other is mistaken (or lying to save face).
UPDATE 2: The screenshot of Baxter’s email exchange appears to have been taken on March 23rd due to the “1 day ago” fuzzy datestamp that Gmail uses. This could be anywhere up to ~1 day 12 hrs after the email. It seems odd that the email exchange would be screenshotted in advance, except if he was passing it around to others before posting it to Facebook.
UPDATE 3 – March 27th, 11:27am CST: Karen Stollznow has created an IndieGogo project for her legal defense. It is set for $30,000, and it expires in 15 days.
By 12:43pm CST, it is at $9,506 USD with 133 backers.
Text of the defense fund plea:
My name is Karen Stollznow. I am an author and researcher with a PhD in Linguistics. In recent months, I wrote an article for a Scientific American Mind blog in which I spoke out about sexual harassment I’d endured from a male colleague for several years. I did this to highlight the wide problem of sexual harassment in the workplace for women, including those in scientific and academic fields. Many people who read the article immediately identified my harasser by name, and spoke publicly about my situation on their own blogs and other social media. They knew who my harasser was because he had recently been disciplined by his employer for his behavior.
As a result, my harasser filed a defamation suit against me, trying to bully me into silence. Although he’s spent thousands of dollars on a lawyer to clear his name, he knew that I could not afford the same. In my attempts to settle out of court he has tried to bully me into signing a retraction, which claimed that I had lied about the whole ordeal, including his ongoing harassment of me, and assaults at one of our professional conferences. Although I didn’t sign the retraction, he posted the document on his very public Facebook page and announced victory over me. This also lead to false public edits being made to my Wikipedia page.
I never lied about the harassment I endured and I have evidence and witnesses to attest to my experiences. The only crime I have committed is not being rich enough to defend myself. If you believe in justice and in protecting victims who are bullied into silence, please dig deep and help support this legal fund. I must raise $30,000 in the next two weeks in order to find legal counsel to fight these allegations and clear my own name. If my harasser succeeds in bullying me into silence, it will only serve to embolden harassers, and teach victims that they should never speak up, lest it ruin their lives.
Any money raised through this campaign that is not spent on these legal expenses will be donated to Colorado’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center.
Thank you for listening to my story, and please give as you can. To contact me about this fundraising campaign, email [email protected].
This indicates that the previous assumptions of a lack of funds and an effort to settle out of court to “make it all go away” were likely accurate. This paints Radford and/or his lawyers as aggressors — they wanted more than to just make it all go away, they wanted an admission that Stollznow lied about the whole thing. This was obviously a concession Stollznow was unwilling to make given her reaction to the “retraction” letter.
Whether or not the concession was agreed-upon by Baxter as her proxy is not in evidence, however. I urge skepticism on that point — the only part of that email thread that has been presented by Radford publicly does not show this fact, and it’s extremely important with regard to whether or not Radford or his lawyer tried to overreach. Baxter claims they had altered it beyond what he’d agreed to in his tweet on the matter on March 25th; Radford claims they hadn’t altered it in his “clarification” Facebook post.
As of 1:13pm CST, Stollznow’s legal defense fund is at $14,506 with 196 backers.
I added the following in the above speculation timeline:
Lindsay claims in his letter that punishment was NOT set up to coincide with vacation time, so if there WAS punishment (which Lindsay strongly implies there was!), then it’s likely that someone told Karen he had been on vacation instead. My going suspicion on this point is that Radford himself suggested to others that he’d been taking vacation, rather than having been suspended, to explain his absence and save face. Stollznow may have heard this and taken the story at face value, and assumed duplicity on CFI’s part, rather than Radford’s.
In communications with Paul Fidalgo, I was asked to correct that point and the point of whether or not CFI asked SciAm to take Stollznow’s post down entirely. From Fidalgo, I have confirmed that the employee that Ron Lindsay was referring to in his post and letter to Scientific American was, indeed, suspended, and that the suspension was intentionally arranged so as to NOT coincide with any vacation time. He cannot refer to names in discussing this case, obviously, in this letter, but it was written explicitly with the intent of obtaining a correction of only the specific points brought up, not a takedown of the post or for any other implied or proffered reasons regarding sides-taking. I’d urge everyone reread Ron Lindsay’s post on this point. It fits quite well with my current line of speculation.
At 5:19pm CST, just under 6 hrs after being posted, the IndieGogo was fully funded for $30,000. Stollznow will be fighting the case. This is likely not enough money to cover all legal costs, though. Defamation costs can get fairly steep. It is evident that, regardless of the outcome of this specific case, this community is extremely motivated to fight back against harassment. The alacrity with which these funds were collected reminds me of Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter, which raised $120,000 mostly on the back of the harassment she was receiving — both before the Kickstarter, and the order of magnitude more she was getting afterward.
One point I will note is that at least two people decided to “satirize” this fight by donating to Stollznow under the names Sara Mayhew and Justin Vacula — two people who pride themselves on being against people who generally fight harassment. I know, it feels good to take a poke at someone who spends all day, every day trying to tear down everything you stand for. But if we are the good guys, we’ll not do things like that — especially since it invites further harassment of the person you’re trying to help with the donation. Take those pokes under your own name if you want, but don’t call down the winged monkeys on someone else’s behalf.
The defamation filing is apparently a matter of public record, and I’ll be trying to obtain a copy from the court as soon as possible. (Likely only this weekend, unless someone else has a copy.) I understand from people who’ve read it that it contains many terrible allegations against Stollznow. It’s possible much of it is bluster, but there’s often a kernel of truth behind every person’s experience of events, so I’d like to see what the allegations actually are and whether they’re supported by any evidence in the public record.
Additionally, Baxter evidently briefly posted a more complete copy of the email thread between him and Radford / Radford’s lawyer, but pulled it from his Facebook page recently. I don’t have a copy of that either, so I don’t know what it says, and if it provides any of the context missing from Radford’s questionable screenshot.
On March 31st, Brian Thompson, former JREF Outreach Coordinator, posts this to his Facebook wall:
Let me explain why I’m supporting Karen Stollznow’s legal defense fund. Maybe some of my Facebook friends don’t know who she is or what this is all about. Karen is a linguist, writer, and investigator who looks into claims of the paranormal, the supernatural, and the outrageous with a skeptical eye. Skeptics like her do a lot of good for the world in ways large and small. They’re the ones fighting against the kind of scientific ignorance that keeps people from vaccinating their kids, for example. And if it weren’t for skeptical investigators, I might still be cowered in fear every night thinking aliens were going to abduct me or ghosts were going to throw things around my bedroom. Now I’m just cowered in fear thinking that I might never be on one of those interior design makeover shows. This is progress.
I believe so strongly in the good work these skeptics do that several years ago I started hanging out with them, working on activism projects with them, and drinking lots and lots of booze with them. I went to their conferences and meetings and pre-swingers’ parties, and for a couple of years I even worked in an official capacity with one of the world’s most well-known skeptical activism nonprofits, the James Randi Educational Foundation.
In that time I got to know a lot of great people. I’m not going to name them all, because I know I’ll leave out Christian Walters, and then our lovemaking will take a passive-aggressive turn. But a lot of people who share this common interest in making the world a better place through rationalism are kind, honest, funny, talented, and valuable friends. Then there are people like Christian who are maybe just two or three of those.
But I no longer identify with this community of benevolent know-it-alls, because not all of them are the best folks in the world. In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club. They’re dishonest, mean-spirited, narcissistic, misogynistic. Pick a personality flaw, and I can probably point you to someone who epitomizes it. And that person has probably had a speaking slot at a major skeptical conference.
I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.
There’s a particular guy popular with the skeptical crowd who writes books, gives talks, and wears bicycle shorts. What’s not to love? Well, a female friend of mine told me she didn’t like it very much when he locked eyes with her from across a room and pointed to his dick. When I started working for the JREF, my boss described this same guy as an “old school misogynist”. Then a friend told me this same skeptical celebrity had groped another speaker at a conference. Grabbed her breast without invitation. Sexually assaulted her. Then my boss told me that not only did this assault happen, but that he witnessed it and intervened. The woman who was assaulted won’t name names for fear of being dragged through the mud. Another woman I know has told me that this same guy assaulted her. Others have confirmed her story to me. I believe her. But she’s remained anonymous for much the same reasons.
I’m tired of this. I’m tired of hearing about sexual predators like Mr. Bicycle Shorts, who has yet again been invited to speak at the JREF’s annual conference. I’m tired of hearing things like what I’ve heard from [redacted]. That my old boss grabbed his junk in a car and said he would be “presidentially displeased” if [redacted] didn’t give my old boss a kiss.
I’m tired of people like Richard Dawkins, whose lashing out at my friend Rebecca Watson for having the nerve to talk about what kind of male attention makes her uncomfortable has led to years of the most heinous abuse being flung at her and her colleagues. Heinous, woman-hating abuse from enthusiastic members of this broken little community of freethinkers.
Pardon my Yiddish, but oy, that shit’s fucked. And it’s also fucked that people are afraid to speak out about their stories for fear that it will become the focus of their careers or that their privacy will be destroyed or that they’ll be sued or that they’ll somehow damage organizations that do a lot of good work.
This makes me sick, and it makes me mad. So of course I’m going to help Karen speak up and fight back.
Here’s the situation in a nutshell: Karen used to work with another writer and investigator named Ben Radford at an organization called CFI. Karen says Radford continually harassed and abused her. She brought the situation to CFI, which found Radford guilty of some of Karen’s charges. Then they let him off with a slap on the wrist. Karen blogged about this. Radford sued her for defamation.
Based on the evidence I’ve seen, my own experience with Radford’s dishonest and creepy behavior, and the assurances from friends of mine who know more about this situation than I do, I’m willing to believe Karen. And more than that, I’m willing to put my money behind her efforts to fight back in court. Because she deserves the chance to make her case instead of having to fold under insurmountable financial pressure. Defending yourself in court isn’t cheap.
Also, I don’t like bullies or creeps. Especially the kinds of bullies and creeps who have been protected by their peers and allies in a community that places pseudo-celebrity and books about how lake monsters aren’t real above the well-being of women who are at least as vital to fighting the good fight. A fight, by the way, that’s about the righteousness of the truth.
So I’ve given to Karen’s fund. You can do the same here:
The post gets shared a few times, then Thompson removed it from his wall — I’m not sure if under legal threat, or simply because he was distracting from the issue by implicating DJ Grothe and Michael Shermer (without naming either) in other misdeeds. (This means I have to update my other harassment timeline, I guess.)
I’m playing catch-up presently. Updates will continue momentarily.
One of Radford’s friends, Angie Mattke, puts up a Rockethub legal fund to help defray his legal offense costs on March 23rd. It gets no publicity — nobody’s spreading it around. Tenured antifeminist troll and general attack dog Mykeru is working hard on getting Dean Esmay, of A Voice For Men, to “do something”.
On April 2, Ben Radford himself makes public a website full of document dumps, pictures, and scans of printouts, at benrlegal.info. This is, by my count, his fourth “final public statement” on the matter. I’m in the process of downloading everything here in case it goes away when a lawyer decides that was a bullshit move. But there’s a lot here, and it provides a lot of context to the fight.
Whois data on the server shows that the domain was registered on January 20th 2014, and updated March 22nd 2014. I presume the update was to point it to the GoDaddy servers where the domain is now also hosted as well as being registered. He registered the domain well in advance of any other telegraphs of legal action, and started hosting services the same day as making the “retraction” public. My guess is he was using the website as a negotiating bargaining chip to get them to settle, to sign the “retraction”, or else the “bomb” would be dropped and all his evidence would be made public.
One good thing came of this — he saved me the trouble of getting the filing from the courthouse directly. Assuming his PDF is identical to the filed copy, of course.
One of the specific claims on the filed complaint with the court (PDF) is that Stollznow edited emails that were used to prove that he had inappropriate contact with Stollznow over the period claimed in the original CFI investigation. This claim differs from the original claims in Stollznow’s narrative in two important ways. It means Radford knows which specific emails were claimed to prove that he was harassing Stollznow, which resulted in a two-week suspension without pay, and that he believes Stollznow definitely edited them, whereas Stollznow says that she gave the investigators full access to her emails and was not privy to any of the results whatsoever. Radford had access to the results of the investigation at least as far as which specific emails “proved” he was contacting her inappropriately. Stollznow claims to not have had any access to it whatsoever. So Radford claims to know exactly which emails were used to damn him, that Stollznow selected specifically for that purpose, and how they were forged, whereas Stollznow just claims to have given investigators access to her email and to have been locked out of the process from then on.
Something I’ve learned personally in digging on this topic is that sometime around 2012, CFI moved from another email provider to Google Apps. I am asking around presently to find out if this coincides with the time presented on those “edited” emails. It seems entirely plausible to me that this migration was not going to include a full port of emails, and that Stollznow instead forwarded everything in her old mail to her new mailbox over a period of several days. This would certainly have the appearance of being “poorly edited”, as the emails in the validation report that Radford paid for only validate that the timestamps in the specific emails in question actually showed the original dates of 2010.
It could further prove incompetence on the part of the hired investigators if they mistook these emails’ timestamps. Radford’s investigators claim that the timestamps in Google are proprietary — but mail itself is not proprietary, headers are not proprietary. The only part of the headers that Google has a say in are the SMTP IDs, which pretty obviously contain a datestamp that could have been edited too if someone was actually mucking about with email headers. An example from my own:
by mx.google.com with ESMTPS id q45si4540386yhb.95.2014.04.02.20.46.24
This contains the following: a unique identifier (q45…yhb.95), and a timestamp (2014.04.02.20.46.24). That’s April 2, 2014, 8:46.24 PM in its local time. (It was actually received at 10:46pm CST.)
If someone was actually mucking with email headers to get the timestamps to look different, they’d have to ignore this patently obvious timestamp. It’s possible that’s actually what happened — that Stollznow edited these emails and missed the ESMTP ID, or that she did a particularly clumsy job of collating some emails and claiming the year stamps were different than what they actually were. But it’s also possible that the rest of the headers were not actually edited, because these emails weren’t actually edited, but were rather forwarded from Stollznow to herself during the migration and the investigators mistook the year of the email migration for the actual year of the email.
Without seeing the results of CFI’s investigation, I can’t make any claim to know what exactly they considered damning evidence of Radford — all we have is a scan of a printout or photocopy of some emails that he claims came from the investigation. We don’t actually have real proof that it was specifically from the investigation, or that Stollznow had any hand in the investigation results being what they were — we do, on the other hand, have claims by Stollznow that she was locked out of the process early on and was stonewalled thereafter. It’s extremely possible that he did, in fact, get punished for specific incidents that didn’t happen. But, that doesn’t mean that harassment didn’t happen in toto, at least in Stollznow’s eyes — only that the investigators who punished him were wrong about something. Hopefully the entirety of the CFI investigation will be entered into evidence so we can determine what exactly they claimed to have used as proof that Radford did indeed deserve the two weeks suspension.
A lot of what’s on this site is irrelevant character assassination, in an attempt to prove that she’s jealous, vindictive, and a proven liar. This includes an apparently sealed police document involving a domestic dispute between Baxter and Stollznow, which he apparently obtained, including three pictures — two of which are mugshots of Stollznow. Baxter and everyone commenting publicly on this have claimed that this was entirely unrelated and brought up solely to prove she’s violent and jealous. I’m not sure how Radford obtained these sealed records. I’m also not sure how it proves that he didn’t harass her — only that she is jealous and has been violent in the past.
He also published an email he claims to be from Baxter confiding in him about he and Stollznow’s rocky relationship, though there’s little proof that this email actually happened — as with most of the “emails” he’s publishing, he’s actually using Gmail print function then saving as PDF. It’s well possible to edit these after the fact, so it’s not actually proving much about the emails without any headers or the likes — as he himself should know, considering the headers on emails are what ostensibly exonerates him from the harassment. But we can still assume the email is legit, and it only proves that Baxter and Stollznow’s relationship was rocky, and that Baxter thought Radford was a friend enough to confide in him at one time.
There’s additionally one very particularly sleazy thing on here — a selfie Radford took of him topless (at least) in bed, with an apparently also topless Stollznow. Radford is grinning widely while Stollznow is shielding her face from the camera with her hand — she evidently didn’t want her picture taken. I’m not sure what he intended to prove with this, but the EXIF data on the image he uploaded conveniently leaves out the timestamp. (It leaves in such details as exposure time, camera model, etc., but “date taken” is all zeros.) It proves that, at one time, they were in a sexual relationship — something nobody’s ever actually disputed. It kind of seems like the “you consented once” argument, which, if that’s the way he’s going, is really distasteful and frankly damning of his character.
Making that argument worse is the claim by Bob Blaskiewicz at Pharyngula that there are pictures of “enthusiastic consent” that the courts might see.
There is the fact that the documents that he was disciplined for (the emails) at CFI, and which have been the basis for endless numbers of attacks on him seem to be forged. Badly. That’s why the lawsuit is not just for defamation but for fraud. It is basically unthinkable how those copy and paste jobs she presented will stand up in court, honestly. The judge is going to want to see her email accounts like Ben presented his and compare. That’s what will determine this.
My understanding that photos of her enthusiastically consenting at a time she says they were not involved are not included on the website. I suspect they will be seen in court, however.
It’s not actually clear that these images will prove anything, since the one posted on the website presently doesn’t actually show a timestamp (TRIGGER WARNING: this is Radford’s semi-nude selfie with probably-Stollznow!!) despite showing all sorts of other information. Exif data in the timestamp field exists on the three photos from the police report, so we can tell definitively that neither his server nor WordPress (his content platform on this server) is (even inadvertently) stripping timestamps.
Never mind that this is effectively a claim that Radford took pictures of himself and Stollznow while having sex, evidently with Stollznow being less than willing to participate in the photography, and that he’s now holding that over her to threaten to show it to the courts. And that he may have shown the sex pics to Blaskiewicz (no good skeptic would make a claim like this publicly without seeing the evidence, yeah?). Even without any other context around this, that’s incredibly fucked up and probably illegal, since I’m sure that among his evidence he doesn’t also have a modelling release form allowing him to show these pictures publicly.
This case is almost entirely going to be tried on the basis of whose character is more believable, though, and as a result of all of this well-poisoning irrelevant info, it may well be that Stollznow would lose even if the alleged harassment and assault actually happened. That doesn’t mean I think Stollznow is a saint, though. A lot of people are doing a lot of polarizing in this fight, but I don’t think it’s entirely cut-and-dry. It’s entirely possible that Stollznow is, in fact, vindictive and jealous and mercurial, and that Radford may even have the evidence of such. But remember that even proven liars should be taken seriously enough to have their claims investigated properly. Being vindictive and jealous doesn’t preclude you from having someone harass the hell out of you — including what seems a lot like “revenge porn” pics and threatening to release them to the world. That qualifies as harassment on its own, to me.
UPDATE 8 – July 19, 2014, 12:15pm CST:
Things have been mercifully quiet for a long time, with no further inadvisable document dumps or public statements being made by either side. Radford has been making numerous subtle and not-so-subtle changes to his Ben R Legal website, which HJ Hornbeck documented in the comments below, but nothing particularly bombshell-like has come of it in my estimation.
However, there is news today that Radford’s “legal info” site, where he maintained an archive of his own allegations against Stollznow and his “evidence” of lack of wrongdoing on his behalf, has been turned off, and unconfirmed rumors are that it had been due to a cease and desist letter (I’d previously worded this stronger than I have direct evidence for, so I’ve amended the record here). If the C&D also required deleting all archives, apparently web.archive.org is still up. It would fall on Radford to submit the purge request as the owner of the domain in question.
In slightly less portentious news, apparently slimepitter Brive1987’s own attempt at a timeline, at Weebly has also vanished. It’s NOT on web.archive.org. No big loss, honestly — he was as bit a player as I am in this. Possibly this is also the result of a C&D; or maybe the slimepitter’s “historian extraordinaire” is sad about the fact that no FtBer has yet retracted their statements on the Stollznow/Radford case after Radford presented what he claimed to be a retraction by Stollznow but turned out to be something else entirely.
UPDATE 9 – June 2, 2015
While my entire blog has been rather dormant, in at best low-power mode for the better part of a year, some movement has been seen in this case — evidently it got dropped for lack of jurisdiction, re-filed elsewhere, then settled. I am told that I have an absolute obligation to resurrect this post to tell everyone what a lying liar Stollznow is (by some bloggers who count themselves as “friendly” and/or think themselves skeptical), and they’re right that I have an obligation to resurrect this place to update everyone and include this new information, they’re wrong as to its import. Stollznow signing a retraction means she signed a retraction — it doesn’t actually speak to the truth or falsity of the original claim, which we will frankly never know.
The statement itself is strange, though, in a number of respects. It’s worth posting and parsing.
In 2013 Karen Stollznow accused Benjamin Radford of stalking, sexual harassment, and both physical and sexual assault. She made these accusations in a complaint to Ben Radford’s employer (the Center for Inquiry), in a guest blog written for the Scientific American Mind website, and to various individuals in private communications.
Karen and Ben were in an intimate, personal relationship that ended with acrimony and misunderstandings. But it would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Radford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically or sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow.
The issue has done damage to both Karen and Ben and to their careers. Through mutual discussion, all issues between them have now been resolved. Both Ben and Karen wish to move on with their lives and put this matter behind them.
They ask that their friends and colleagues let the matter drop. They ask that bloggers and others who have repeated these allegations against Radford or Stollznow remove them from their sites and not repeat them. Any blogs or other published references to these accusations only serve to perpetuate the harm to both parties.
Karen Stollznow Benjamin Radford
Why would anyone use the construction of “it would be wrong for anyone to believe” rather than “he did not”?
Karen Stollznow was ready to settle last year-ish. Then that settlement statement was morphed into an apology without her consent, and Radford jumped the gun in posting it far and wide. She was ready to move on from the outset, and was only catalyzed to fight after feeling like she didn’t owe Radford any sort of apology.
This started with Radford misrepresenting a statement, and we are now expected to look at this statement as meaning “Karen lied, Ben is innocent, sexual harassment never happened and Karen is a lying liar, we must all recant on our beliefs that the skeptical community is problematic as all hell.” It does not, however, mean that.
This statement was clearly negotiated. I don’t know how much, but it must have been, for Karen to sign it (assuming that K___ is her signature, and B Ridlt is his… but I’m no hyperskeptic, let’s assume the signatures are legit and the kerning is correct please). It means that the joint statement was a term for their out of court settlement, and the exact wording was negotiated, and its signature was Radford’s price for making the whole thing go away, but that’s about all it means.
It is also odd in its timing, because it apparently came out on the exact same day that Karen was scheduled to have her labor induced and/or C-section done. It implies to me that she just wanted to get this over with so she could move on. And more power to her for that.
This does not, however, speak to the truth or falsity of the original claim, any more than if Simon Singh were forced to settle out of court on the libel case would it mean that homeopathy is suddenly validated by the courts.
We’re never going to know what actually happened here, but this entire timeline provides a pretty good, in my estimation, idea of what sort of person Radford has been with posting what amounts to revenge porn to prove they were in a relationship once (which was never in question). It may even provide a pretty good idea that Stollznow is mercurial and jealous, if there’s any truth to Radford’s “defense” (which likewise doesn’t speak to the truth or falsity of her claims). But it says absolutely nothing about the original claims, only that we’d be “wrong to believe” them. The IMPLICATION is that we’d be wrong to believe them because they aren’t true, but it’s never said here.
But the term “misunderstanding” in the context of a sexual relationship does not speak well to the nature of what was hashed out between them. I do hope that in the future Radford does not end up in any other such “misunderstandings” because they end up becoming giant legal time-and-moneysinks in even the best of scenarios.
492 thoughts on “Radford / Stollznow defamation case: What we know and what we can infer or extrapolate reasonably”
… Dammit, I totally missed that! From the response/memorandum:
I suppose that’s what I get for skimming. Obviously my analysis above needs some changes: the fact that Radford mentions New Mexico so often is much more understandable, and it removes what was once strong evidence he was being aggressive. I circled back through my original comment, and I think those are the only changes demanded. I also see I missed an inaccuracy; in 21 of the declaration, Radford claims they were together four years when they’d actually been together for three. Not a big deal, but it brings the total up to three or four depending on how stringent you are.
[Sigh], maybe. There is value in being wrong, though. And if it wasn’t for Ann calling me out, I never would have spotted this in the response/memorandum:
But Stollznow has made exactly one public defamatory statement, her blog post. Even Radford’s complaint cannot point to a second public one. It finds plenty of other people broadcasting her claims, true, but you can’t hold Stollznow accountable for something Myers said in public unless you can show she coerced him to say it. Linking to her blog post and commenting falls well short of that. Private defamation may be another matter, but Radford can’t possibly know the extent of that until he uses the law to fish in Myers’ inbox.
Maybe I was wrong to ignore the jurisdiction filings. Well, OK, I was DEFINITELY wrong, I just don’t know how wrong I was yet…
But he’s arguing that she defamed him by following CFI’s guidance wrt sexual-harassment reporting — ie, by telling them about it and then cooperating with the investigation — which makes no sense at all even WITH the misdated emails, given that they confirmed an in-person incident.
^^So a little detail like that probably wouldn’t hang him up.
In context, I think “more” means “more minimum contacts with the forum” and not “more acts of defamation” anyway, though.
The thing is….He doesn’t have a very good argument, imo. But it might be good enough to keep the case where it is. Because there’s no very compelling reason for it to be anywhere else, either.
And while I may be wrong about this, I believe that could be a significant disadvantage for her wrt the future potential for an anti-SLAPP suit.
My guess is that that’s really what’s at stake, jurisdictionally speaking.
Agreed. Radford has a tendency to steamroll over reality when it conflicts with his view; his first reply to Smith in the MonsterTalk emails ignores every rebuttal that Smith made, item C of the Flashback email report shows him ignoring Stollznow, and repeatedly claims that email report checks the dates even while quoting a passage that shows it doesn’t.
The author of that passage should be Radford’s lawyer, though, not Radford himself. I don’t consider this instance to be evidence of authorship, because it’s more likely Radford is insisting on a trail in New Mexico, and his lawyer is merely dishing up the most convincing argument they can to make it happen.
I do consider it evidence that the argument for jurisdiction being New Mexico is weak, however.
That’s quite plausible; when I last looked into New Mexico’s anti-SLAPP laws, I saw they were primarily aimed to property developers. How they’d work for a citizen-against-citizen defamation/fraud tort isn’t clear to me. I remember another commenter, long ago and in another thread, bringing up that New Mexico is rare in allowing a majority consensus on a jury, as opposed to a unanimous vote, but that assumes Radford goes for a jury trial.
I still haven’t the foggiest why he’s so committed to New Mexico.
It’s worth noting this style of case is extremely rare, no matter what jurisdiction you’re in. The majority case is an individual suing a media outlet, so it’s not clear what legal paths are available.
This is ugly and adversarial enough that they might just be lobbing ugliness-and-adversity her way for its own sake. (Shake the other side up, wear them out, maybe induce them to make a mistake, etc.)
Because it’s a vigorous and well-argued filing, though the argument itself is not all that one might wish. I have to say. Were I on the other side, I might look at it and feel a little anticipatory weariness dawning.
That’s always been my biggest fear, that Radford would win just by throwing more money at a lawsuit. I remember hearing early on about a legal settlement in Radford’s favor, back around when the news of the lawsuit first broke, though I can’t find the comment at the moment. I’ll have to look, just to make sure I’m not imagining things.
Agreed. Posting sealed police files and photos of the two in bed online? Asking for a 10:1 punitave ratio, totalling millions in damages? Trying to get her booted off MonsterTalk? That all adds up to a heavy vengeful streak from Radford, and it’s quite plausible this is just a bitter cherry on top.
I should know, too. My latest project has been gathering up all the emails Radford has released, and combining them all into a single long document, arranged in chronological order. In the process, I got to re-live all the gaslighting and bullshit that Radford dished out, and…. oy. I mean, he goes from “We’ve both moved on” on January 13th to sharing dreams he had about her on February 3rd; there’s his repeated questioning of her love for Baxter starting in May, which evolves into a situation where he uses friendship as a hostage; where he talks of a “capricious hot-and-cold Karen” on September 30th and kicks her to the curb, only to warmly thank her for a present on October 5th.
But what struck me the hardest was Item C from the Flashback report, those series of emails on May 4th. I only skimmed over Radford’s long speeches to Stollznow before, so being forced to read the entire thing this time, in context, was quite the gut punch. I mean, Radford admits to getting councilling for his approach to relationships, right after mentioning the two other women he’s seeing at the time (one named “Jenna,” interestingly). His response to learning Stollznow is engaged? Sorta-kinda propose a romantic relationship with Stollznow, “sorta-kinda” in the sense that he appears to detail an elaborate fantasy of running away with her to a cabin for hiking and sex, only to go “oh right but you’re seeing Baxter. NEVERMIND” and tell her not to respond for several weeks. I’m terrible at detecting passive-aggression, yet that stood out like neon lights for me.
Radford comes across as a deeply twisted person, just from his own evidence. I shudder to think at what Stollznow might have hidden away.
I haven’t mentioned this in a while, but Radford is occasionally editing his website. Most of the time, these are small additions that don’t mean much. Sometimes, though, we get items like this:
How inaccurate is that statement, though? Looking in the New Mexico civil court system, we find a case named “Radford v. Bottoms et al”, numbered D-202-CV-200604867, on claims of “Personal Injury Auto”, dating from June 21st, 2006. It was punted up to the Federal courts on July 12th, 2006, and after a long period of discovery the judge ordered a settlement conference for October 25th, 2007. Somewhere within the long chain of documents, the case’s name was changed to emphasize another of the three original defendents, and became “Radford et al v. Wal-Mart Transport et al”. After a year and a half in the courts, Wal-Mart Transport’s lawyers submitted a joint motion to dismiss on January 4th, 2008, which was accepted “with prejudice” (no second chances, in English) four days later. Despite the earlier request for a jury trial by Bottoms, it looks like this never saw the inside of a courtroom.
So according to the US Federal court system, Radford was injured in an automobile accident, sued a large company, and the matter was settled. The only bits of Myers’ email that could be inaccurate are related to the size of the settlement; did it land in Radford’s favor, and if so how much money did Wal-Mart Transport hand over?
So much for “completely false.”
This leads into another example, this time an edit instead of an addition.
This pops up elsewhere on the website, too:
This is already somewhat creepy. How would Radford know what’s on Stollznow’s homeowner’s insurance? But it gets worse when you realize what that passage used to say:
Weird, so in the last few weeks Radford went from uncertainty to certainty. It’s very unlikely Stollznow would have divulged this information to Radford, so how could Radford have learned it? Is someone close to Stollznow snitching on her, or is Radford flexing the “near-omniscience” I’ve mentioned before?
There’s a third possibility, of course: Radford’s lying. Stollznow has explicitly denied she’s using her homeowner’s insurance, and thanks to a JREF forum user known as A’isha, I now know a little more about the subject:
So while a straight-up defamation suit is likely to be covered by homeowner’s insurance, one that involves something like fraud or interference with beneficial contracts probably won’t. Combine that with the massive punitive damage claim, and you have a legal case that looks designed to prevent Stollznow from invoking her insurance. This matches up with what Stollznow said months ago on her fundraiser, and grinds against Radford’s claims.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but Radford’s ratcheting claims smell like nervousness to me, or maybe desperation.
Oh yeah, and big news on my side: I’m collaborating with a SylmePitter on a report about the Stollznow case, the idea being that putting both a pro-Stollznow and pro-Radford examination side-by-side will lead to a higher quality examination. The ever-evolving report itself is here, and the matching JREF forum thread can be found here. Download, and enjoy the show!
[This is an edited version of a comment I made over at the JREF forums].
Radford used to block web spiders from crawling his website, but sometime in the past he let them in. Here’s the contents of his current robots.txt:
I’m not sure when the change occurred, but I know it must have happened sometime before April 21st, 2014. That also means you can recover old versions; if you hurry, for instance, you can see copies of Radford’s timeline and false accusation pages that predate the current edits (2014-05-30T15:42:36+00:00 and 2014-06-17T00:34:16+00:00, respectively).
As a consequence of the change, his legal website’s been climbing the search engine charts. From my location, when I search for “Karen Stollznow,” the website is hitting the top of Google’s page 2, the bottom of page 3 on Bing.com, but the bottom of the first page on ask.com.
Looks like he really is aiming at Stollznow’s reputation…
I’ve been told that Radford has been disinvited from The Amazing Meeting. Does anyone know if this is so, or if he has chosen not to attend?
I’m asking since I saw a “Team Radford” t-shirt at this years TAM.
No idea. I’m not that plugged into the skeptic side of things, though.
Twitter’s been an interesting ride. On Friday when she gave her talk, “Rich Sanderson” was pushing for a boycott…. and that was about it. Saturday was bizarrely more active, and I think it was all thanks to this:
It’s funny how they held off until a person did something in meatspace, then rushed in to ride on those coat-tails.
As for the ongoing analysis, I’ve got two comments in moderation over here, and I’m re-thinking my earlier work on those two email “lists.” I’d dismissed the possibility of them being part of a fax document, thanks to the DPI, but after leaving it for over a month and retracing my steps, I don’t think that defense holds up. This shifts around the possibilities quite a bit:
1. Radford probably didn’t have the document in hand, after all. It was instead faxed to him from that massive printer. This means he was probably truthful when he said he didn’t have any physical documents, as all that he has are electronic copies.
2. This blows apart the theory that he was doing much of this from his day job, as having physical access to that printer was a cornerstone of that argument. With a chart of his activity times at my fingertips, it seems more likely that he worked in the early morning and evening, on weekdays. Either he was using a work computer on his downtime, or he was using his home office and had his weekends tied up.
3. This also means the black pen marks most probably come from someone else, boosting Ann’s earlier hypothesis that CFI redacted the report (see @301). Of course, since Radford claims to have never seen the CFI report, we’re either left with Radford lying here or being truthful and basing most of his case on a thin, context-free collection of emails.
Heck, he may have also eyeballed the redacted text, also saw pretty much the same hints that we did, and concluded he had a smoking gun in his hands.
Any updates on this? Haven’t heard anything in a while.
Daniel Schealler @453:
Two of my comments popped out of the mod queue after you posted that, but that’s about it. It’ll probably stay like that for a while, too; I think I remember reading that the typical length of a civil tort is twenty months or so, but at the moment all I can find are numbers for Great Britain, not the US of A. As we’re only five months in, it’ll be some time before this gets resolved.
If you’re a US citizen, though, you can have a ring-side seat. PACER will share the court records of active federal cases, and even some of the filings, if you register with them. Snooping is free, “printing” the filings is not, and in both cases there may be restrictions on how and what you can share. I can’t get in, unfortunately, so I’m hoping someone else can.
begin 644 oddity.txt.gpg.uue
Hj Hornbeck @454:
That makes sense. Thanks for the update.
Unfortunately I’m not a US Citizen – I’m a citizen of New Zealand and Australia, and I assume that probably won’t get me very far with the US legal system. I’d register with PACER right now, otherwise. Really interested to see how this plays out.
benrlegal.info is apparently down at the moment (edit — removed uncorroborated speculation here!). I will update the main post shortly.
Purely speculation: it’s possible his own attorneys advised him to remove the site. As others have pointed out, the site itself could be grounds for a counter-suit and/or further charges of harassment.
Not A Lawyer @458:
I don’t find it all that likely, though. Not the counter-suit/harassment bit (I agree on this one, see #152 and #374 for more), but the lawyer advisement thing. If his lawyers knew about the site from the beginning, they would have said as much from the beginning as well. If they didn’t, that’s because Radford didn’t want them to know, which implied he had an inkling they’d disapprove of it.
The rumors of a cease and desist make sense, though. They’re usually kept private between the sender and recipient, so unless one side announced the existence of a C&D we’d have no idea it existed. We shouldn’t rule out some sort of legal maneuver coming from Radford’s existing case, however; we’re past due for some movement on that case, and as no-one seems to be keeping an eye on PACER we have no idea what those moves are.
Thibeault, latest update:
The closest counter-example I can think of is the addition of Reap Paden’s account (see #369 and #378). Other than that, I agree. Those edits tell us far more about Radford’s internal state and the construction of his case, than they do about the truth-hood of his claims.
I’m still having a ball over in the JREF forums, though it won’t last; with Radford removing his website, I’m winding down my analysis as well. I plan on cross-posting my interesting comments over here, and I rather like this one. It’s my best shot at explaining the emails chains of April 18th and September 18th.
Within Radford’s narrative, it certainly is. He claimed to be in a sexual relationship with Stollznow until September 18th, 2010.
I’ve already explained why this isn’t the case, but what about April 15th and September 18th, 2010? Doesn’t the fact that Stollznow arranged the April encounter, and suggested an affair in September, contradict my earlier explanation?
They would, if they were true. Radford, for instance, was the one who proposed a get-together with Stollznow, if you follow the email chain (emphasis added by me, some portions dropped for brevity).
Note how Radford steered her towards renting a hotel room on his behalf? That’s escalation on his part, pushing her towards a situation where she’d be drunk and alone. Note as well when Radford dished out some innuendo, Stollznow tried to de-escalate. That’s not the act of someone looking to have sex.
What about that September 2010 email where she seems to ask for a fling? Radford is kind enough to provide us with an alternate explanation (emphasis mine):
Radford seems to enjoy doing that, as I emphasized in the March/April email exchange. In fact, Radford does it three times in that September 18th exchange. He assures us of the first, and you can see the second and third for yourself (emphasis mine):
If you look at the original PDFs, the colour highlighting gives away that Radford literally copy-pasted Stollznow’s words from an earlier reply then changed the name.
Now if this is a common thing with Radford, maybe Stollznow’s doing the same thing back? Radford’s third repeat referenced the “affair” bit, after all, so this could have been a long chain quote retaliation. In fact, there might actually be a fourth one there: remember that bit where Radford claims that “if I’m committed, I’m committed”?
Radford is polyamorous, and in fact seems to have been in counseling over it:
So he might actually be quoting something of Stollznow’s there, which she calls him out for. Interestingly, in the very same email, he proposes a monogamous relationship with Stollznow:
This is especially shocking, as it’s his reaction to learning that Stollznow is in a committed relationship with Baxter. If Radford keeps flip-flopping between monogamy and polygamy, and has no respect for Stollznow’s own declaration of monogamy, how can she trust him to be monogamous? Here’s a more blatant flip-flop from Radford, with emphasis by me:
Stollznow’s sudden offer of an affair, when she seemed to have slammed the door shut on this, makes quite a bit of sense as her mocking Radford by throwing his own behavior back in his face, which triggered Radford to retaliate in kind via quotes. It makes none if treated as a sincere offer.
I find it beyond hilarious that when trying to visit Radfords self-incrimination site, this is what I found:
No response found? It was ever thus.
I giggled. But I also find it mildly worrying. Why would Radford make his website more visible, yet still not explain why it was taken “off the air”? I smell the faint whiff of shenanigans.
Anyway, my fun over at the JREF forums is nearing a close. But I wanted to pop back over here to shore up a weak argument I made before:
At the time, I only had one reference to Radford being shaky about when he learned of Stollznow’s engagement, and who told him. Later on, I spotted a second, and on my second pass through the subject I’ve recalled one more:
So back around that time, Radford wasn’t certain about the Stollznow-Baxter relationship. He doesn’t even seem to have thought it was bizarre:
And even years later, he either claims to have been uncertain (Complaint, 26m; Declaration, 17) or certain (Complaint, 26k). I was fairly confident “bizarre situation” was a quote-mine before, and I’m even more certain now. Still no idea what the true context is, sadly…
I’m also thinking April 16th was a pivotal moment in Stollznow’s relationship with Baxter. I thought the engagement pre-dated her last sexual encounter with Radford, and I doubt I was alone there. But what if it post-dated the event, occurring some time after the 25th? In this scenario, Stollznow was dating Baxter but wary of commitment before the events of April 16th. In the immediate aftermath, she spent a lot of time mulling over her relationships, and was especially worried Radford would attempt to resume a sexual relationship despite her earlier clear signal that wasn’t in the cards (email, January 13th, 2010).
Her solution? Commit to Baxter. This would shut the door in Radford’s face, and hopefully end his harassment of her. She made a big show of her commitment during a phone call sometime around the 25th, as hinted at in Item C of the Flashback report. A short time after that call, possibly in response to an uptick in harassment from Radford, she decided to go one step farther and propose (or, more likely, publicly “propose” in front of a number of friends in the hope the information would boomerang back to Radford).
There were two problems: by telling people she’d committed to Baxter, she’d effectively committed to Baxter and fairly early in their relationship to boot. Second, Radford did not stop the harassment, as she’d hoped, but instead ramped it up further and tried hard to manipulate both of them. This lead to a rocky relationship (and long on-again-off-again “engagement”) during at least the next year, as their personalities were forced to grind against one another while dealing with the trust and doubt issues Radford partially helped trigger. Stollznow had jumped from frying pan to fire, and Disneyworld help her if Radford ever worked out why the engagement happened. It’d be the perfect fuel for a hardcore grudge.
It’s pie in the sky, I’ll admit, but I’m not one to shy away from that.
If you’d like some evidence to go with you wild speculation, I’ve fired a bit off to the JREF forums. It’s only a few more days until I give up on this case; thankfully, I’m still enjoying the process.
…. On second thought, one portion is good enough to re-post here rather than just link to.
Hopefully Radford can demonstrate he got that the permission of Colorado courts before August 21st, 2013, the day that sealed record was printed off. Otherwise, he might have committed a criminal offense.
Nearly… done… that… fisk… of… Stollznow’s… blogpost….
In the meantime, I keep stumbling on new material. Here’s an edit of something I posted over at the JREF, another example of quote-mining on Radford’s part.
If you’d clicked through to the original, you’d find Stollznow never said that in her January 13th email, instead writing:
Why the discrepancy? There were two different PDFs of that email thread on Radford’s website. The first version was two pages long, with the above passage in an email from Stollznow on the first page, along with a response of Radford, and Stollznow’s January 14th email which actually contained the passage Radford quotes. The second version was missing the first page, omitting Stollznow’s explanation for why she ended their relationship but including Radford’s reply to it, as it had been manually expanded out.
Why two versions? Before April 1st, 2014, Radford didn’t know how to link to files he’d already uploaded to his website. The oldest page on his site, the Timeline, linked to the edited version. So when he wanted to reference the same email thread again on the “Relationship” page, he had to manually re-upload the PDF; this time, he chose the original.
This looks like a lie via omission on Radford’s part, which was only discovered thanks to his technical incompetence.
I’ve downloaded the relevant documents through PACER, in case anyone wants a look. Here’s the conclusion:
So a win for Stollznow, but an opening for Radford to re-file in the proper jurisdiction, presuming he can find one. Stollznow’s lawyers’ response to Radford’s response to the motion to dismiss suggests that the court “should consider the issue of forum shopping” when deciding on the motion, so chances are that’s a line of reasoning they’ll continue if Radford decides to re-file elsewhere.
Tom: could you be so kind as to throw those my way? I think you have my email, but if not, I’ll email you regardless.
Huh. Too bad it was dismissed over jurisdiction. Is there an option for appeal, on Radford’s side? You might want to keep an eye on PACER…
I’ve had my fun over at the JREF forums. I don’t think I convinced a lot of people, but hopefully I planted a few seeds.
And in the process, I kept stumbling on things I’d missed. Take this gem:
So back in 2011, Radford thought Stollznow was trying to be his friend since 2009? That doesn’t sound like someone who thought he had a romantic relationship with Stollznow in 2010. It sounds more like someone trying to re-write history, and counting on other people not to notice. And why would Radford have to assure her he wouldn’t try to trick her into sex or steal away her boyfriend, if he hadn’t tried both already?
Having his case punted over jurisdiction issues was a favor to Radford, as it means the judge never set eyes on Radford’s evidence. Though I can’t imagine Radford’s parents are happy right now…
No. Because he doesn’t. I don’t see any escalation either. She suggested that they spend the night together, She knew perfectly well that he was very interested in rekindling the flame, not to say adamantly opposed to letting it die out. So. By default, given that she didn’t add any provisos such as “no hanky-panky, though!”(or similar), she’s presumably suggesting a hook-up.
And by “presumably” I mean: That’s what the average reasonable person in Radford’s shoes would presume. (Apparently correctly, ftm.)
In re: “bizarre situation” —
I think the likeliest explanation is that her then-fiance wanted to see pictures of her with another man, based on the Reap Paden thing and her own words. (Where she says something to the effect of “I think we’re all very pleased with the result.” Or maybe “outcome.” I don’t remember. But it’s an odd thing to say, absent the encounter producing a result that was of interest to more than two people.)
Of course that would mean that Radford has always known that both their relationship and her interest in him ended in 2009, exactly as she says in her blog post.
Which would mean that he’s playing those slymepitters for fools.
Yep. I doubt he’ll refile. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Stollznow v. Radford is on its way to a docket somewhere.
Just now reading about this. Glad to see the lawsuit was thrown out.
I was wrong. He refiled in CO. The amended complaint is here:
But his case hasn’t gotten any better with time or repetition.
And if it’s ever going to, now would be a good time. Because she’s now filed a response flatly denying virtually every allegation in it and demanding proof of same. Which is here:
It looks like your reading of that 2010 encounter may have been righter than mine. BTW.) .
There is new development since 20.5.2015. The case was dismissed with prejudice. RB and KS probably got to an out of court agreement. Any comments, updates etc. about that? There is not a peep from KS, but RB posted on his twitter account a signed document that exonerates him of any malicious wrongdoing (at least on paper) and that is virtually all there is to be found (apart from a few slymepitters and thundering fools reposting int with a lot of “we told you so!!!!!!”).
The case seems to have been settled.
“[…] it would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Radford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically or sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow”
It’s hard to read this as anything other than an admission that her claims of stalking and harassment were, at best, a misinterpretation of behaviour and at worst, simply false.
Yes, in a thread that started with Radford falsifying an agreement and apology before, it’s hard not to read this agreement and apology posted by Radford as 100% genuine and without suspect.
It is further hard to read this letter as anything but a complete refutation of all the independent and disclosed evidence, because we know that signed statements are like retcons for reality, changing what actually happened in history. Every skeptic knows that we must trust people’s signed statements over anything else, which is why we’ve all been geocentrists ever since Galileo renounced heretical Copernicanism in a signed statement in 1633.
It’s hard not to read this statement as completely voluntary, because coercion is a liberal myth.
It’s hard not to read this as a definitive refutation of everything that preceded it, and not as another installment in an ongoing campaign of harassment and bullying that has moved to the costly arena of the courts, and that one party, particularly after the stress of a high-risk pregnancy, just wants to end.
It’s absolutely impossible to read this as a SLAPP suit having its intended effect.
I have addressed the settlement in the above post as Update 8, and expanded on my thoughts about Hemant Mehta’s demands on my newer post about my “obligations”.
[…] of the former got me hooked. I put on my skeptic hat, and started analyzing the evidence. I spent months going line-by-line over Radford’s legal website. I teamed up with a SlymePitter in an attempt to write the best […]
[…] regarding the most recent development in the Stollznow/Radford harassment situation Adam Lee noted how Hemant Mehta hadn’t contacted him (or, near as I can tell, any of the […]
[…] just can’t seem to escape sexual assault. For the span of six months I analysed the Stollznow/Radford case, then finished an examination of Carol Tavris’ talk at TAM2014, so the topic never wandered far […]
[…] to say the least, of the content of this statement. Among other reasons: In the past, Radford has written “joint” statements of this nature and tried to pressure Stollznow into signing them. At least some of the accusations of harassment […]
I said “It’s hard to read this as anything other than an admission that her claims of stalking and harassment were, at best, a misinterpretation of behaviour and at worst, simply false.”
Clearly I was wrong, and Ineed to practise reading between the lines and considering why things are worded they way they are.
I now see that this must have been the very best wording that Ben Radford could get, and it was good enough for him to dismiss his case with prejudice and no award of costs or damages probably because he though that most people would read it the way I did initially.
It looks like the signed statement (if it’s authentic) is just part of making the civil case go away. Here’s what the judge’s order said (text copied from the justia.com web site):
Source — https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/colorado/codce/1:2014cv02620/151101/34
I had to look up “dismissed with prejudice” — this means the plaintiff (Radford) cannot bring this case back for a future lawsuit.
The judge’s order references a joint motion to dismiss with prejudice but that document isn’t available to the general public online.
The motion’s available to the public, but you have to have a PACER account. Here’s the text:
Oh bloody hell, how was I not getting email notifications for this thread? I just took a vow of silence on this matter, too.
Alll right, I’ll come out retirement for just this comment. Thibeault, I think, is on the money in his latest update; compare the phrasing on the old joint statement to the new one, and Radford wound up conceding A LOT of ground. Having said that, Stollznow still did sacrifice something, as a glance up thread should show it’s not “wrong” to conclude Radford was probably guilty of everything Stollznow claimed.
I’m still getting conflicting news on whether or not any testimony was given; I’ve heard a few people say the case never got that far, yet at the same time PZ Myers was asked for evidence, and duly dumped it in his next post. Some clarity there would be appreciated.
One last thing: did anyone else notice the first joint statement was released May 22nd, 2014, while the second was released May 22nd, 2015? That might be a coincidence, but I suspect that day means something to Radford.
I hadn’t heard of this going on until I saw references on Friendly Atheist (I think it was), but I did stop listening to Monster Talk some time ago, partly because Stollznow was no longer on, but mostly because Radford came across as more and more of a dick as time went on
Comments are closed.