Tags

, , ,

On March 22nd, 2014, Ben Radford posted this to his Facebook page:

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 to Radford’s career and reputation caused 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.

He claimed it was part of a settlement he’d reached in his lawsuit against Karen Stollznow for “defamation, fraud, and interference with beneficial contractual relations.” Days later, she said there was no settlement. Radford took the post down, and declared he’d see her in court.

I had no idea who Radford or Stollznow was at the time, but the shady behavior 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 analysis of the evidence out there. When that collapsed, I argued with Radford defenders over at what used to be the JREF forums. It’s no exaggeration to say that outside of Stollznow’s or Radford’s legal teams, I’m the leading expert on this case.

And Radford didn’t have one. All of
Stollznow’s claims were either plausible or probable, based on the evidence Radford himself presented. As a trivial example, Stollznow claimed that Radford offered to wisk her away to exotic locales for romantic getaways; while the text is cut off, one of Radford’s emails appears to offer sex and adventure to Stollznow in a remote cabin.

Radford never intended us to see that email; instead, the company he contracted to snapshot some of his emails grabbed the wrong one. Think about that: the cornerstone of Radford’s case was those emails, to the point that his website linked to it on every page, yet neither he nor his lawyer paid much attention to the finished product. Radford made a big to-do about forged emails, yet he never asked the company to check for forgery; they checked as an extra, it wasn’t in the instructions they were given. Radford never submitted Stollznow’s alleged forgeries for analysis, or at least didn’t publicly share the results.

These and many other oddities hint that Radford himself knew he didn’t have a case. His real intention was almost certainly to force a settlement instead and punish Stollznow for speaking out.

On May 22nd, 2015, Ben Radford posted this to his Twitter account:

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 and 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 their friends and colleagues to let the matter drop. They ask that bloggers and others that have repeated these allegations against Radford or Stollznow please 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.

He claimed it was part of a settlement he’d reached in his lawsuit against Karen Stollznow for defamation. I haven’t seen any confirmation from Stollznow directly, but this one is probably legit.

And according to it, I am wrong to believe the evidence in front of my own eyes. That long-winded email where Radford muses he didn’t try hard enough to win over Stollznow? Those short one-line emails he sent to Stollznow? The public airing of their private correspondence? The sealed and anonymized police report that Radford somehow grabbed from Colorado and made public? The CFI report that ruled he was guilty of something? Sorry, this statement says, I should turn a blind eye to all that, and assume a highly unlikely scenario to be true because It Is Written.

Sadly, many in the skeptic movement are happy to toss out logic and reason when an authority figure says to.

There have been times we’ve posted stories on this site that turned out to be false. Whenever that comes to our attention, we issue a public retraction (or, in smaller matters, we put an update on the original story, just in case someone stumbles across it online). Why wouldn’t we do that?

I feel the same way about this story, even if Radford and Stollznow want to put it to rest: If those bloggers felt it was appropriate to write about this story in the past (and throw Radford under the bus in the process), then they have a responsibility to address the resolution now.

there comes a time, and the time is now, when those who traffic in such accusations must be called to account, particularly when they’ve erred, tarred someone’s reputation, and then, when their accusations prove to be false, quietly ignore them rather than admit error. This behavior is shameful and reprehensible, and Hemant properly calls it out.

Admittedly, they haven’t sunk as much time as I have into this case, and may not know all the details. Fair enough. For my part, that statement says “Ben and Karen wish to move on with their lives and put this matter behind them,” and I’m not helping by talking about the case further.

So, barring a change in circumstances, I won’t.

Advertisements