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Mar 26 2014

“I didn’t write it, I never agreed to it, I never signed it”: The Supposed Karen Stollznow Apology

“I didn’t write it, I never agreed to it, I never signed it, and I’m not the liar here.”
-Karen Stollznow

For those who haven’t been following, a very brief summary: Last year, Karen Stollznow wrote a piece for Scientific American, coming forward with her story of having been sexually harassed. (The piece has since been taken down: here is a cached version.) It came out later that the person she was talking about was Ben Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine, and a research fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Earlier this year, Radford sued Stollznow for defamation.

On March 22, Radford posted a letter to his Facebook wall, purported to be from Stollznow, supposedly retracting the accusation of harassment and apologizing for it.

Today, March 25, Stollznow went on Twitter to say, “I didn’t write it, I never agreed to it, I never signed it, and I’m not the liar here.” Her husband, Matthew Baxter, subsequently wrote on Twitter, “I wrote a joint statement, they morphed it into an apology, said that I worked on it with them, and claimed that @karenstollznow agreed.”

A timeline of the events related to this situation, with an analysis of it, is over on Jason Thibeault’s Lousy Canuck blog.

Thought you might like to know.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    cubist

    Sweet leaping Jesus Haploid Christ on a titanium trampoline with a half-twist. First Rule of Holes applies in spades… Is Radford trying to tunnel past China?

  2. 2
    screechymonkey

    cubist, I don’t know that anyone is going to come out of this looking very good. Unless Radford forged those emails, then at a minimum Stollznow’s husband was negotiating some sort of settlement involving an apology/retraction, and didn’t make it clear that no, we don’t have a deal yet because Karen hasn’t approved this, so no, you shouldn’t go publicizing it.

    As a lawyer, Radford’s behavior makes me want to bang my head against the wall more, because he is apparently represented by counsel and yet still couldn’t contain himself from bragging about a settlement that wasn’t signed. Stollznow and her husband look kind of bumbling too, but that’s to be expected when people don’t have legal advice — we all tend to screw up when we’re out of our element.

    Expect a very inconclusive end to this whole mess. The defendants don’t seem to have the resources to fight it out, and Radford seems eager to declare complete vindication regardless of the reality. So I expect a resolution where they retract as much as they can stomach, Radford and his pals brag that it is a complete victory, and the rest of us point out that it really isn’t.

  3. 3
    carlie

    And even if she had written it, agreed to it, AND signed it, that wouldn’t necessarily make it true.

    And it’s not “hyperskepticism” to say so. That statement being true would require all of her previous statements to be lies, and all of the corroborating stories of his behavior from all those other people to be lies, and would require her to have some weird unknown motive for doing it all in the first place. All that believing the final statement is a lie would take is believing that she was ready to do whatever it took to get him to stop legally harassing her.

  4. 4
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Unless Radford forged those emails, then at a minimum Stollznow’s husband was negotiating some sort of settlement involving an apology/retraction, and didn’t make it clear that no, we don’t have a deal yet because Karen hasn’t approved this, so no, you shouldn’t go publicizing it.

    I was semistruck by the fact that when referring to the statement(s?), he wrote “ours” and “this,” as though maybe there was going to be not a single joint statement but separate statements from Stollznow/Baxter and Radford submitted jointly and he was talking about Radford’s. I would be pretty surprised if she would have agreed to the language in that statement, though it does seem to be written as though it’s meant to be read as coming from her, too, so it’s confusing. Or they submitted their portion of a statement and then Radford thought it OK to join it to his own, thus making it appear that hers went beyond a basic retraction (I can’t imagine his lawyer not stopping this, but the lawyer also wouldn’t have let him post it, so I assume the lawyer was out of the loop)? I could of course be totally wrong, but something about “ours” makes me think he might have been talking about something other than their copy of the same document…

    Expect a very inconclusive end to this whole mess. The defendants don’t seem to have the resources to fight it out, and Radford seems eager to declare complete vindication regardless of the reality. So I expect a resolution where they retract as much as they can stomach, Radford and his pals brag that it is a complete victory, and the rest of us point out that it really isn’t.

    Yes, that seems most likely.

  5. 5
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Or they submitted their portion of a statement and then Radford thought it OK to join it to his own,

    To be more clear, I mean merge it with his own (though, again, pure speculation).

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    I was semistruck by the fact that when referring to the statement(s?), he wrote “ours” and “this,” as though maybe there was going to be not a single joint statement but separate statements from Stollznow/Baxter and Radford submitted jointly and he was talking about Radford’s.

    My understanding is that Baxter and Radford and Radford’s lawyer worked on the statement in Stollznow’s stead; she didn’t want to even have to see his name at the time. My further understanding is that they were working on a joint statement and that Baxter had not agreed to specific changes that were added by Radford and/or his lawyer in the very last iteration, and seeing Radford jump the gun and post that on Facebook was the first that Stollznow or Baxter saw that specific framing (what differed between them I don’t know).

  7. 7
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Unless Radford forged those emails, then at a minimum Stollznow’s husband was negotiating some sort of settlement involving an apology/retraction

    I thought the standard procedure in settlements was a neutrally worded agreement to drop the matter and move past it. If he was negotiating that, and they rewrote it to insert all the guilt and retraction/apology stuff, this becomes immediately explicable.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    All that believing the final statement is a lie would take is believing that she was ready to do whatever it took to get him to stop legally harassing her.

    It’s too bad there isn’t a code of ethics for lawyers.

  9. 9
    busterggi

    Geez-Loueeze, I really used to enjoy reading & listening to Ben Radford before this happened. For a smart guy he just doesn’t seem to be able to learn.

    And I don’t get to hear Karen Stollznow as often either which only makes it worse.

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