Sunday, February 17, 2013

Raphael Golb Created 82 Sock Puppets, Harassed Scholars Who Ignored His Father's Work, and Was Charged With 51 Counts of Identity Theft, Aggravated Harassment, Criminal Impersonation, Forgery and Unauthorized Computer Use at NYU

This is an amazing story, and especially relevant, consider the left's depraved war of lawfare and intimidation against conservatives. The dude was pissed off that scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls --- the Dead Sea Scrolls! --- were ignoring his dad's scholarly contributions so he waged a criminally-obsessed online jihad against them. Sounds familiar, I know.

See the New York Times, "Online Battle Over Sacred Scrolls, Real-World Consequences":
Between 2006 and 2009, he created more than 80 online aliases to advance his father’s views about the Dead Sea Scrolls against what he saw as a concerted effort to exclude them. Along the way, according to a jury and a panel of appellate court judges, he crossed from engaging in academic debate to committing a crime.

What he accomplished through this manner of intellectual warfare is, like the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, a topic on which opinion is passionately diverse, with no shortage of bad blood.

“This has nothing to do with scholarly debate,” said Lawrence H. Schiffman, vice provost of Yeshiva University and a widely published authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, who became the prime target of Mr. Golb’s online activities. “It has to do with criminal activity.

“Fraud, impersonation and harassment are criminal matters,” he continued. “This was actually designed to literally end my career.”

Mr. Golb’s father, Norman Golb, 85, a professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago, placed the wrong squarely on the other side. “The D.A. took a scholarly quarrel and makes a case against Raphael Golb and not against what those other people are doing, which was worse,” he said. “The vindictiveness, the anger, the ugliness, that’s O.K. because it comes from the other side.” ...


In 2006 and 2007, when several American museums announced exhibits of the scrolls, Raphael Golb was incensed that his father’s theory had not been acknowledged in the shows. “They teach scorn for my father,” Mr. Golb said, accusing rival academics of “indoctrinating students in a culture of hatred.”

“This is a system where they suppress people by excluding them,” he added.

At the time, the younger Mr. Golb was researching a book about French secularism and working just enough as a real estate lawyer to pay his bills. He also received money from his parents. The Internet offered ways for him to argue his father’s case. He wouldn’t have to use his real name, which others “would simply use to smear my father,” he said. Instead, he could post under an alias — or four, five or six. He began posting comments on the museums’ Web sites, complaining that the exhibits were one-sided.

He started a blog; then another and another, each under a different name. The aliases begot other aliases, known on the Internet as sock puppets: 20, 40, 60, 80. The sock puppets debated with other posters, each time linking to other sock puppets to support their arguments, creating the impression of an army of engaged scholars espousing Norman Golb’s ideas. Using the alias Charles Gadda (from the Italian writer Carlo Emilio Gadda), Raphael Golb published articles on the citizen news Web site NowPublic and linked to them in comments and blog posts written under other aliases. The writings all championed Norman Golb as an honest scholar bucking a well-financed, self-serving conspiracy.

He acted as an online troll, stirring up controversy. “Was it appropriate for a scientific institution to allow a group of Christian academics to impose their agenda on an exhibit of ancient documents taking place under its auspices?” he asked of an exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum, in an Oct. 6, 2007, article. That article, he said, drew 16,000 views.

“They saw this happening and they were furious, because I was sabotaging their Internet campaign,” Raphael Golb said of the museums. His father’s rivals, he suspected, used sock puppets to answer his comments.

“It became a kind of war,” he said. “It was very ugly. But I was glad it was happening. I was like, this is great. This draws more attention to my father’s work.” To a family member he wrote, “they are faced with a dedicated, in-the-know adversary who is out to get them, and there’s simply nothing they can do about it.”

One of Mr. Golb’s targets was a graduate student named Robert R. Cargill, who created a virtual tour of Qumran for the San Diego museum.

Norman Golb posted an article on the Web site of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago complaining that the film’s script ignored his theory.

Raphael Golb went further, sending pseudonymous e-mails to Mr. Cargill’s professors at U.C.L.A.

“I said this person should be compelled to answer the published criticisms of his work at his Ph.D. defense,” Raphael Golb said. Some of the e-mail messages suggested that Mr. Cargill, who describes himself as agnostic, was a fundamentalist Christian and an anti-Semite.

Mr. Cargill, who is now 39 and an assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa, remembered Mr. Golb’s campaign as a frontal assault meant to thwart his career.

“Any time someone hears the name Robert Cargill, they hear, he’s anti-Semitic,” Mr. Cargill said. “Let’s say I’m applying for a job and I’m in a pool of 10 finalists. When they do background checking, they see this Cargill looks like he’s being criticized as anti-Semitic. We don’t know if it’s legitimate, but it’s safer to go with someone else.”

The e-mails kept coming. According to papers filed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, from June 2007 to June 2009, Mr. Golb’s aliases Steve Frankel, Carlo Gadda, Don Matthews, David Kaplan, Emily Kaufman, Jesse Friedman and Robert Dworkin sent dozens of e-mails to hundreds of people at U.C.L.A., all attacking Mr. Cargill. “The volume of defendant’s alias creation,” the court papers read, “and his planning with others, speaks to the deliberate intent in conducting defendant’s operation.”

Mr. Cargill fought back. A typical e-mail message or blog post has an Internet protocol address that identifies the computer used to create it. Using simple software that identified the I.P. addresses, he traced the e-mails and blog posts of 82 aliases to the same few computers. Beneath one of Mr. Golb’s pseudonymous comments, he posted a message, using the pseudonym Raphael Joel, a combination of Mr. Golb’s first name and his brother’s. The message was: We know who you are....


Raphael Golb was naked and asleep when police officers came to his apartment early on the morning of March 5, 2009, arresting him on 51 charges of identity theft, aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation, forgery and unauthorized use of the computers in an N.Y.U. library. He had been up all of the previous night writing comments or blog posts under his various aliases. The officers seized Mr. Golb’s computers and led him handcuffed from his building. Waiving his rights to a lawyer and to remain silent, Mr. Gold denied sending any bogus e-mail messages, telling the investigators that Dr. Schiffman had filed a false complaint “out of maliciousness toward my father.” He added, “I find the guy a bit nauseating, to tell the truth.”

Mr. Golb later rejected a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail.

At his trial in September 2010, Mr. Golb admitted to all of his writings, but defended his use of pseudonyms as a time-honored vehicle for criticism and debate — and a staple of Internet culture. He wasn’t trying to defraud anybody or gain anything, his lawyers argued; he just wanted his father’s views represented. If he was guilty of slander or libel, his victims could sue him in civil court.

“I’m not saying anybody here acted well,” Mr. Kuby said. “I just don’t think anybody acted criminally.”
This should be interesting to some of our friends on the right, especially Robert Stacy McCain, "Deranged Cyberstalker Bill Schmalfeldt Charged With Deranged Cyberstalking." And discussed there is Lee Stranahan, who's been quite busy of late. For example, "My Statement About Criminal Harassment Charges Against Bill Schmalfeldt." Also, "Bill Schmalfeldt’s Double Dip Harassment Part 1," and "Bill Schmalfeldt’s Creepy Obsession With Photos Of My Wife (NSFW)."

And Lee tweeted some of Schmalfeldt's deranged ravings:

And I'll tell you, I'm eternally thankful that all the Internet harassment and stalking I beat back never escalated to this level. Either way, folks should know that if you're out here standing up for decency and right, the despicable left knows no depths of viciousness, deceit and dishonor. You will fight for your life because the left will attempt to destroy you. Recall that Stranahan had to move away at one point and relocate, to protect the safety of his family. And Robert Stacy McCain did the same. It's hard out there for a righteous mofo, but remember that this Rafael Golb dude --- whether you think he's right or wrong, and I think he went overboard --- is looking at an almost certain 6 months behind bars, so be assured that when lines get crossed on the Internet --- and they do get crossed --- people go to jail.