On 8th August, PZ Myers published an email from a woman he knows and trusts (but who had asked Myers not to name her) at his blog. The email said that a well-known figure in the American skeptics community had
“coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me”.
Several other named and unnamed sources, known and considered credible by PZ Myers, have confirmed the incident and have described what may be other similar incidents:
…he deliberately got her very drunk while flirting with her — a story that corroborates a particular pattern of sexual assault. All of these are people PZ knows, and whose reliability he is vouching for.
It’s been noted that there will be no legal repercussions for this man, though there may be social repercussions:
So the best we can hope for as far as repercussions are that because his name is so popular, the accusations against him will give his potential future victims pause against trusting him enough to drink with or spend time alone with him. This might hurt his feelings, but it will not ruin his career or his life.
I’ve not mentioned the man’s name because I’d never heard of him before, and I’m fully expecting that most British readers of this blog haven’t either. He demanded that PZ Myers remove this post by 14th August: when Myers did not, he said he would prosecute Myers for defamation.
A supporter set up an indiegogo fund for people to contribute money for the purpose of prosecuting PZ Myers, for publishing these statements from named and unnamed sources.
(In the US, in principle, if a statement is proved to be true it cannot then be regarded as defamatory: and further, it is a known legal defense that you are allowed to report / pass on information as a general information or warning of danger: intent to defame must be proven.)
The man says himself:
My reputation is all I have. I did nothing wrong–legally or morally–and I intend to defend myself and prosecute Myers until he issues a retraction and apology, as stated by my attorney.
As with all such fundraisers, there are rewards for donating bigger and bigger sums – a month’s free subscription to an atheist journal, a year’s free subscription, a lifetime subscription if you give a thousand dollars.
It was the reward for donating five thousand dollars that got to me. Ahem. In a case that’s about a man who is said to have a pattern of getting women drunk and then sexually harassing, molesting, or raping them, the five thousand dollar reward is …
Update, September 2014: I avoided mentioning Michael Shermer’s name when I first wrote this blog, because he was then seriously threatening to sue everyone who named him, but when this is being discussed on Buzzfeed, I think it can be acknowledged to be in the public domain. See also Stephanie Zvan’s blogpost After the Shermer Article: What Do You Decide?.