Update: August 25, 2015: Radford / Watson
+ Rebecca Watson's take
The retraction document signed by Stollznow made three things clear. It would be wrong to believe the original accusations, blog posts repeating these allegations perpetuate untruth & harm and both participants believe the decent response would be to be remove said posts.
Watson construed a cease and desist letter from Radford as "libel-bullying". She raised $10k to defend a suit which has not been launched. Watson cast the situation as a free speech issue and has said she will "probably" donate the left over money to charity if the case does not eventuate.
I am not sure what the legal implications are of hosting blatantly false comments or to continue to knowingly publish inaccurate and incomplete information about discredited criminal accusations. I am certain this is unethical and sympathise that the only apparent mechanism to enact involuntary decency is the blunt hammer of the law.
Overview of Incident
In late 2012 two cohosts of the MonsterTalk podcast had a professional falling out. Ben Radford believed Karen Stollznow was not pulling her weight.
The two had enjoyed a brief long-distance relationship during 2008/09 ending in 2010. Radford assisted Karen's entry into the skeptic community but they fell out over his open unwillingness to commit to an exclusive relationship.
The 2012 professional spat culminated in Radford complaining in a private e-mail to the podcast producer. The following month Stollznow filed a harassment case against Radford to his employer (CFI) - despite MonsterTalk not being a CFI product.
CFI's $40,000 third party investigation found against Stollznow's specific claims of sustained harassment dating from 2009. Radford was however said to have sent inappropriate emails during the period covered by the recent dispute and to have conducted himself 'unprofessionally' at a conference.
Radford demonstrated the intimate emails purportedly sent by him in 2012 actually dated from 2010 when he and Stollznow remained in an on-off relationship. Radford supported this dating with an independent forensic review of the data.
Rebecca Watson broke with Stollznow after she requested, but failed to receive, evidence the emails formed actual harassment.
Radford also claimed the investigator was mislead about the nature of their relationship during the time of the major conference-related allegation (TAM 2010).
It was later proved that Radford and Stollznow had in fact slept together during 2010.
CFI suspended Radford for two weeks. He remains a staff member to this day (2015).
Stollznow was unhappy with the findings of the investigation. Within a week she broke her confidentiality agreement, asking JREF to ban Radford from future TAMs. She escalated her demands all the way to their Board - but was rebuffed.
Stollznow then published an article on the Scientific American website describing her alleged 4 years of harassment and physical abuse at the hands of a coworker and the failure of her employer to protect her.
Within 24 hours the online world had identified Radford and CFI. Stollznow enjoyed a 'clean skin' public reputation - by default most believed her allegations.
There's evidence Stollznow authorised the leak of Radford's name on twitter.
The FreeThought Blogs network (FtB) immediately conducted a co-ordinated 'dog-pile' attack on Radford - led by PZ Myers fresh from his 'grenade' post. Stollznow's accusation played directly into their campaign against the 'misogynistic' skeptic leadership (Shermer, Krauss, DJ Grothe et al).
Ron Lindsay (head of CFI) wrote a rebuttal pointing out the CFI related points Stollznow got wrong or misrepresented in her article. On the basis of this, Scientific American took the Stollznow piece down.
Radford abided by his confidentiality agreement. He privately asked FtB bloggers to also take down their posts - which he regarded as perpetuating libel. PZ Myers publicly mocked these moves.
Radford privately threatened legal action and started negotiations with Karen's husband, the paranormal investigator "Baxter". There was general agreement for a retraction document - to the point where emails show Baxter discussing the timing and practicalities for getting it notarised. Radford prematurely released what he believed to be the agreed text. Stollznow washed her hands of it and its contents.
Radford then initiated formal legal action - libel and damages.
Stollznow launched a crowd sourced campaign to fund her defence. It operated under the generic title 'Give a Voice to Harassment Victims'. The campaign was widely supported by the online social justice networks. Radford was painted as a harasser, a bully and a fraud. $60,000 of funds were secured in a matter of days. Karen promised to give unspent money to charity.
Stollznow has since revealed that her insurance covered a "portion" of her legal bills - but says a funding gap consumed the entire 60K. There is no evidence any money was paid to charity.
In campaign updates, Stollznow was very specific. She had evidence, she had witnesses, she had funds and she had right on her side. She was going to have her day in court.
Radford incurred a credibility setback from the failed retraction exercise and subsequent crowd funding. He consequently published a website that laid out his defence for the first time against the original claims of harassment. The site also provided supporting material in the form of photos, emails and official reports (police and consultants).
FtB bloggers ignored this evidence describing it as 'revenge porn'. But the documents strongly suggested that Stollznow's narrative was suspect.
The evidence showed she maintained a friendly dialog with Radford during 2010 (and beyond) - ie after she'd claimed to have demanded all contact cease.
It showed she helped organise a night in a hotel room with Radford right in the middle of the alleged harassment period (April 2010).
It showed she turned to Radford for support and comfort when she argued with Baxter (Sep and October 2010). Again during the period covered by her article.
It also showed that during this time (Sep. 2010) she unambiguously emailed Radford an offer to conduct an affair.
It showed Baxter turned to Radford for relationship advice - precisely when Stollznow's article said the harassment against her was escalating in intensity.
It showed a police record of Stollznow inflicting domestic abuse on Baxter.
It included evidence of other unpredictable behaviour on her part.
In 2014 Radford's libel case was transferred to Denver for jurisdictional reasons. The case progressed to where witnesses were called for depositions.