*nina has written their thoughts on the nearing year anniversary since the dismissal of the case.
March 25th is the one year anniversary of #teamharpy case being dismissed, by the plaintiff’s lawyers’ request no less, from court.
There are several reasons why I’m writing this.
First, to set the record straight, to tell in chronological order what happened and how it ended. If you search for me on any search engine, due to the popularity of the plaintiff’s website and other (large) websites that wrote about the case, there is nothing in the first pages of results discussing the dismissal or discussing the dismissal with accurate facts. My own websites barely stay on the first page.
Second, my professional reputation has been damaged. Not irrevocably, but fairly damaged. See reason above on search results. I’ve had two offers rescinded and I’ve been the top two in several final positions with hints I would be extended the position and ultimately rejected. How do I know the case is affecting my employability? After the first or second interviews, the institution google searches me (I now know they have seen the pages related to #teamharpy), goes to my site(s), and spends hours combing them. One institution had seven different people combing my profesh site. How do I know this? By my web logs. I see who (by ip / domain name) has searched for me, how they found my site, and what they are reading on my site. Some continue to read this site long after the interview has been over.
(What I initially forgot to mention is that at least three institutions there was at least one person at each who printed out reams of my blog pieces and became mildly obsessed with me. No, not scary at all.)
This is why I have the blurb box in the upper right corner stating the case has been dismissed and the #teamharpy link points to this page.
Now that’s out of the way, Let me catch you up what’s been going on:
- August 2008 – October 2013 I receive first and second-hand accounts of the plaintiff’s alleged unwanted, mainly sexually harassing, behaviour, which allegedly was happening mainly at conferences.
- October 2013 While I am at a conference, two separate individuals relate how each of them, at separate times, were allegedly harassed by the plaintiff. One reported when she rebuffed the plaintiff’s advances, the plaintiff allegedly responded, “Your husband doesn’t need to know.”
- May 2014 Fed up with discussions of alleged numerous persons using conferences as their ground for alleged harassing behaviour, I go on a rant on Twitter about the lack of community accountability and name the plaintiff as one of the assumed and known persons perpetuating this alleged behaviour
- I did not use the word “alleged” in my tweet, which could have changed everything.
- May 2014 nina writes a blog post, “Time to Talk About Community Accountability.” While she names the plaintiff once (possibly twice), the piece is more about why professional communities (any community, not just library profession) seemingly refuse to police their own. She uses my tweet as the jumping point.
- June 2014 nina and I receive cease and desist papers from the plaintiff’s Canadian lawyer. We are asked to remove the tweet / blog post and apologize.
- After much discussion between the two of us, we decide to stand firm on our words and refuse to remove the tweet and blog post. I mean, who sues over a single tweet and a blog post written by two persons who do not have influence?
Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.
- July 2014 nina and I are served papers, again from plaintiff’s Canadian lawyer, with the plaintiff suing us for, collectively, $1.25M. This is not a typo.
I live in the US, nina lives in Canada. Why the Canadian lawyer and why sue us in Canada?
Here is the simplified answer: In the US, if someone defames another, it is up to the defamee to prove what the defamer said was/is not true. The burden of proof lies on the defamee.
In Canada, the opposite is true. It is up to the defamers (nina and me) to prove what we say is true.
Hence the Canadian courts getting involved.
You may be asking yourself, “You live in the US. Can they sue you in Canada?” The answer, simplified, is yes. But, I can decide not to accept the summons and they are up shit’s creek without a paddle — to some degree. In my understanding, once they sue me in Canada, they cannot sue me in the US. US / Canada have ties in various legal things that prevent the same case being tried in both countries – ever. So yes, I could have gotten myself out of the case with a technicality, while nina could not.
So why did I not use the technicality? I was the one who started this mess, I needed to stand my ground, and I needed to support nina. I am the one who sleeps with me at night and I could not morally leave anyone to hang for something I was party to .
So I stayed.
I will and would stand by my responsibilities all over again. No questions asked.
How did the hashtag #teamharpy come about? nina coined the term in relation to how women who whistle blow are treated. I picked it up and it blew up. (Apparently it’s now being used by a muay thai group. Did they NOT do their research on the name?) Both sides of case use(d) the tag in Twitter to relate news and case movements. The Canadian lawyer’s last tweet in relation to the case was in November 2015, eight months after the case had been dismissed.
- August 2014 – February 2015 Lawyers for both sides go back and forth. Plaintiff’s American and Canadian lawyers allege the plaintiff is being shunned from their various professions (library conference keynoter and futurist to name a few) and is allegedly losing money by the truckload.
- We (nina, myself, our lawyers) continue to find (and archive) evidence on various, public, social media sites depicting the plaintiff is still preforming their professional responsibilities, including keynoting and working around the world. During the cross-examination, when presented with that evidence, plaintiff allegedly demurs on their activity.
- When we did the call for witnesses, 22 women came forward. Of the 22, two agreed to do a deposition, and one ended up being our witness.
- The general consensus between nina and myself is the position of these women could be damaging to their mental and emotional health, as well as open up a whole can of worms that could prove traumatic for them. We did not want or put anyone in that position. We understand why the other 21 refrained from going forward.
- A neutral person put together a change.org petition requesting the plaintiff cancel the lawsuit since it went against everything that librarians/library science stood for. Over 1000 people signed the petition in agreement. As the case heated up, I requested the petition to be removed as to not antagonize plaintiff and their lawyers. It was removed.
- February 2015 The process of the cross-examination had come to fruition. Myself, the single witness, and nina convene in Toronto. We are there two days.
- February 2015 The plaintiff’s lawyers offer up a dismissal (case is dropped; we do not get sued) if we follow X things. nina and I discuss it and decide to accept the offer.
- Why? Canadian legal system does not work like the American legal system. First, Canadians are not litigation happy. Second, when it comes types of cases that go before the courts, family court is almost always first up on the docket. If we were lucky, our case would go to court in about two years. Yes, two years. It was agreed to take the dismissal for two reasons: First, our mental health. The last year had taken a huge toil on both of us and seeing it to the bitter end (which we had both hoped to do) wasn’t looking so good anymore. Second, money. We raised $15K which completely went to pay our legal expenses. The remainder of the legal bill was paid by myself and nina.
- March 2015 Actions for the dismissal, and with an agreement on both sides, the case is dismissed. The agreement is nina and I post retractions and apologies on our individual websites and on the #teamharpy website. We also have to tweet we’re apologizing with links to the apologies.
If we thought our own personal harassment up until that time was awful, it became nuclear after those tweets. I remember after tweeting the requested info, I shut the lid on my laptop, and didn’t look at the internet for a few days. When I came back, my mentions were a list of insults, sexual harassment, death threats, and other fun things from colleagues in the profession, gamer gate, people not even associated with anything in the profession/case, and random trolls. I reported and blocked hundreds of twitter, facebook, and fake email accounts and I had to scrub off all contact information from my websites (and anywhere on the internet) so I would not get doxxed.
During the case, and even significantly after, there were articles, opinions, acts of defaming our names and images, including:
- People not involved / associated with either myself, nina, the profession, or the case writing / commenting as if they had first hand knowledge (no one knew who the hell these people were)
- Nearly none of them were Canadian lawyers, did not understand Canadian law, or even understand American law but proffered up opinions on such matters
- Articles were written on several websites such one that rhymes with box and another that rhymes with fifart that completely and utterly had the information (what nina and I did for a living, the details of the case, everything) so skewed, it was laughable. We didn’t care if they disagreed, we did take umbrage at the poor reporting of even simple facts.
- We were called “grifters” by several well known sites such as the one that rhymes with nopefat. A “grifter” is a con-artist, mainly out to get money. Somehow the fact (yes fact) the plaintiff sued us for $1.25M, and we did not counter sue even for damages, was not lost on me.
- The plaintiff, after the case was dismissed, appeared to have forgiven us, accepted our apologies, and allegedly “moved on and find peace,” etc but I found full copies of the apology and retractions, tied with my image and / or nina’s image as the preface on the platintiff’s public social media accounts on sites such as Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and SlideShare. I sent in DMCA takedowns to every site I could find and most of images / content were removed from most of those sites.
- The plaintiff was using covers of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in social media, tagging the tweets / other social media with the #teamharpy tag, and pointing out we were allegedly witch hunting the plaintiff across the internet, just like in the witching hunters in the play.
- There is no gag order in the dismissal, which means we can openly discuss the case.
- There is/was no time limit to when the apologies/retractions needed to be up on our websites. I took mine down about a month later and TheExHusband set up blocking so anyone trying to get the archive, direct links, or any other access will be denied
- All tweets in relation to the case, even the deleted ones, were captured and made available by a third party. If you scroll all the way to the bottom (the beginning) of that link and move up, you’ll see the timeline of the harassment everyone in the case went through from trolls, gamer gate supporters, and more mixed in with the positive support
There you have it
This information is true and chronologically correct to the best of my knowledge. I am speaking from my perspective only.
1/29/2016 11:59EST to clean up incorrect legalese.
1/29/2016 17:15EST to clean up some grammar mistakes and add a clarification.
1/31/2016 14:28EST to add nina’s piece