Karen Stollznow Legal Defense Fund Is In Place


The Karen Stollznow legal defense fund has been started, and is now in place. If you think victims of sexual harassment should be able to speak out without being silenced by lawsuits or fear of lawsuits, please donate — and please spread the word.

My name is Karen Stollznow. I am an author and researcher with a PhD in Linguistics. In recent months, I wrote an article for a Scientific American Mind blog in which I spoke out about sexual harassment I’d endured from a male colleague for several years. I did this to highlight the wide problem of sexual harassment in the workplace for women, including those in scientific and academic fields. Many people who read the article immediately identified my harasser by name, and spoke publicly about my situation on their own blogs and other social media. They knew who my harasser was because he had recently been disciplined by his employer for his behavior.

As a result, my harasser filed a defamation suit against me, trying to bully me into silence. Although he’s spent thousands of dollars on a lawyer to clear his name, he knew that I could not afford the same. In my attempts to settle out of court he has tried to bully me into signing a retraction, which claimed that I had lied about the whole ordeal, including his ongoing harassment of me, and assaults at one of our professional conferences. Although I didn’t sign the retraction, he posted the document on his very public Facebook page and announced victory over me. This also led to false public edits being made to my Wikipedia page.

I never lied about the harassment I endured and I have evidence and witnesses to attest to my experiences. The only crime I have committed is not being rich enough to defend myself. If you believe in justice and in protecting victims who are bullied into silence, please dig deep and help support this legal fund. I must raise $30,000 in the next two weeks in order to find legal counsel to fight these allegations and clear my own name. If my harasser succeeds in bullying me into silence, it will only serve to embolden harassers, and teach victims that they should never speak up, lest it ruin their lives.

Any money raised through this campaign that is not spent on these legal expenses will be donated to Colorado’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center.

Thank you for listening to my story, and please give as you can. To contact me about this fundraising campaign, email stollznowlegaldefense@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Again: If you’re troubled by the fact that victims of sexual harassment are staying silent because of lawsuits or fear of lawsuits, please donate. Even small amounts help — they really do add up. And please spread the word: on Facebook, Twitter, other social media, your own blog, and any appropriate places you can think of. Thanks.

EDIT: For those of you who may not be familiar with the details of this situation, here is a timeline.

Comments

  1. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Donated a few bucks and tweeted. It’s gratifying to see the fund better than half way there already. Faith in humanity restored.

  2. markjcphd says

    If she was, in fact, sexually harassed as she claims to have been (and I have no reason to believe she wasn’t), then I 100% support her right to speak out about it. But, playing devil’s advocate here, what’s to prevent other women (or men, for that matter) from making false public allegations against another person for illegitimate reasons such as revenge or blackmail? We have slander and libel laws for a reason, I presume. Now, if, in this case, Karen never identified her perpetrator by name and he was outed by someone else, that’s a more difficult issue and it might depend on how much identifying information she provided in her account. As I said, I have no reason to doubt her, but at the same time, I wasn’t there, and I think too often in these situations, people are too quick to reach conclusions or take sides without knowing all the facts.

  3. seraphymcrash says

    Mark:

    Just a really brief recap: Karen wrote an article about how difficult it is to be sexually harassed. She did not name her harasser. Other people familiar with the situation did name her harasser. How did they know? They were part of an investigation that essentially concluded that Ben Radfords behavior was inappropriate.

    Radford;s response to this was to threaten a lawsuit he knew she couldn’t afford. Essentially Legal Bullying. He then tried to force her to recant and apologize, and gloated that she had done so, when in fact she hadn’t. She has refused to sign his version, so Radford is moving forward with the lawsuit.

    This is legal bullying, and your suggestion that this could just be a false accusation is offensive and plainly ignorant given the history of the issue. I would suggest that if you are profoundly unaware of the facts, that you kindly shut up.

  4. Greta Christina says

    markjcphd @ #3: I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this timeline of the events in this situation.

    I also suggest that you familiarize yourself with the seriously awful consequences that come — to the victims — when victims of sexual harassment and assault come forward about it. False accusations are extremely rare — among other reasons, because the penalties for coming forward with an accusation, false or true, are extremely high.

    No, of course, nobody knows all the facts except the people involved. But many of us have been following this case very closely, and know a lot more about it than you apparently do. So please stop treating accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault as if they were more implausible than claims of sighting Bigfoot. If you have no reason to doubt Stollznow, then act like it.

  5. hjhornbeck says

    Also, while the target has been reached, there’s good reason to keep donating:

    Carrie Poppy: Thanks for posting this, PZ! Amazing to see so many people donating and supporting Karen! Her costs could be as much as $100,000 and this $30,000 is just the bare minimum for her to get legal representation, so this is very encouraging to see.

  6. Corvus Whiteneck says

    markjcphd

    There are a limited number of words in the English language and it is inevitable that one person’s expression will, from time to time, resemble another’s. However, your “I wasn’t there” not only resembles the phraseology of an infamous catch-phrase from everyone’s least favorite lunch meat-named, bible-based museum/theme park-operating huckster, it also resembles unsavory aspects of his rhetoric in spirit.

    In addition, try to recognize & set aside your apparent quickness to consider false accusations as an important social phenomenon (feel free to read up on how common, rare, they are) and your apparent privilege that thinks being sued for libel isn’t a real threat b/c the truth wins out, which ignores the reality of the gulf between the liquid assets an average person has at their disposal vs the cost of even presenting ANY competent defense in a libel case.

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