By Dr. Marc Gafni

For the past many months, I, Marc Gafni, have been repeatedly attacked on the web and in the press. I have been falsely accused of everything from plagiarism to sexual harassment. My character & work have been demeaned. These attacks have unfolded across a series of articles, published mainly in the Jewish press—reaching back to the end of 2015. The campaign cites false claims from 30 and 36 years ago as though they were true. These articles are part of an orchestrated and highly organized smear campaign.

At the end of this post, I will speak about the origins and motivations underlying this smear campaign. They will also be discussed in greater depth in a separate article. Here, I want to directly address a particular false story that has been circulated on the web for a dozen years, in a deliberate attempt to destroy my reputation. Currently, this story has been deployed in a broader frame, aimed at destroying the reputation of anyone who associates with me—as a friend or colleague.

 

Marc Gafni’s Response — The Play Book for Smear Campaigns and Take Down Culture

In contemporary public culture, a new playbook for smear campaigns is emerging. The smear campaign against myself, Marc Gafni, presents a number of false claims as if they were true, with the intent to create public outrage. Usually some partial truths are referenced, distorted, mixed with outright lies, and then used as the basis for claims damaging enough to destroy public reputation. A meme is then created in which the person being smeared begins to be seen as a pariah, and so, suitable for scapegoating.

Scapegoating is a “process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group, the amount of blame being unwarranted.”

Once the prepackaged meme takes hold, anyone who questions the veracity, or the methods of its framers, becomes suspect. This is famously illustrated notoriously in pre-internet American culture by the tactics of Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s. In McCarthy’s anti-communist campaign, thousands of people were falsely accused of being communists. An atmosphere was created in which to speak out in favor of the targets risked being tarred with the same brush as the original target(s). Today, because of the Internet, anyone with a talent for marketing can start a smear campaign (for more, please reference “Anatomy of a Smear: The Internet Trial of Marc Gafni”). Once it gets going, than anyone who questions either the process of ‘fact gathering’, or the motivations of the instigators is automatically suspected as being on the wrong side. When the issue is one that is socially or politically significant, or that stirs volatile emotions, anyone who objects is effectively silenced. Concern for a just process, or for even-handed fact finding, is stamped as ‘disregard for victims’, or for “the gravity of the danger,” when, in fact, such questioning is reflective of a deep and genuine desire for truth and accuracy, non-hysteria and fairness relative to all parties involved.

And so, addressing the false claims being made against me is crucial not only for myself, also for our public culture. It is well known that the Internet makes possible both wonderful communication opportunities and unprecedented opportunities for misuse. It becomes easy to repeat truth claims without checking their factual accuracy. “I read it on the Internet” becomes a substituted for fact checking. In this way, we undermine the core of modern civil society, using intensity and emotionality to obscure reason; Incendiary fiction begins to be accepted above actual facts. When there is no fact checking, we have a society in which the loudest voice wins.

 

Marc Gafni’s Relationship with Sara K.

In my relationship, with Sara Kabakov, I was very much in love, a sentiment likewise expressed at the time by Sara herself. She was in her first year of high school. I had just graduated high school. She was sophisticated for her years and I, was in many ways naive for mine. I loved and admired Sara very much. There was no sexual intercourse or anything vaguely close to that. (This is contrary to the revised and inflammatory version of events that has been circulated for many years, even painting me as a ‘child rapist’ and ‘pedophile.’ These characterizations would be laughable if they were not so appalling.)

Sexuality was never the center of my relationship with Sara. That said, my contact with Sara—as has been verified by expert polygraph—was confined to above the waist petting and necking.

Here is what ended our relationship: I was the product of a strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing that forbade any and all physical interaction with the other sex prior to marriage. So I felt deeply guilty about having any physical contact with Sara at all. For most teenagers in America at the time what we were doing together—kissing, touching, what used to be called in those days, “light petting”—would have seemed normative. For me as an Orthodox Jewish boy, the religious laws mandated that there be no touching of any kind until marriage. I felt guilty over any form of physical touch. Because I believed at the time that the word of Jewish law was divine, any violation of the law was seemed like an offense to God.

It was because I genuinely loved Sara, that I did not want to subject her to my ongoing ambivalence about our contact. That is why I broke up with her. My recollection of our times together revolves around aspects of culture that she exposed me to—art, music, museums I had never known existed. I was stunned when I read—20 years later—the version of events that is currently being recycled. What stunned me was the vast discrepancy between the original reality, as I had experienced it, and this horrifying re-narration.

Additional information in greater depth is available on the “Who is Marc Gafni website” the article entitled “Marc Gafni’s Response to Sara”. In this article, it is my intention to address, accurately, the circumstances, 31 yrs. ago, of the second relationship.

 

Marc Gafni’s Brief Encounter with Judy M.

Thirty-one years ago, Judy M. & I, Marc Gafni, spent about 20 minutes “necking”. I was 24 yrs. old and Judy was 16. That is all that happened. Our impulsive contact was limited and did not involve any form of intercourse or anything approaching intercourse. The encounter was co-initiated, and was ended by me, shortly after it began. It was never repeated.

I have publicly acknowledged, and continue to feel deep regret for my lack of judgment and restraint, relative to this incident. The incident took place through mutual impulsiveness, and which I regretted almost as soon as it began. An important aspect of the interaction—which has never been publicized—is that, during this brief encounter, Judy asked me to have intercourse with her. I refused. During the following days, she wrote several notes to me in the days that followed, suggesting that I should leave my wife to be with her. She indicated that she wanted me to have intercourse with her, to have a continued sexual relationship, and to leave my wife to be with her. I must stress that we had had no prior romantic relationship of any kind, and there was no context for any suggestion of that kind. None the less, I was Judy’s youth advisor. I had primary responsibility for the setting of boundaries, so I am responsible for that mistake. It was the only time I ever made such a mistake with Judy or anyone else, and I felt intense regret and remorse for it virtually every day for nearly two decades. That said, Judy’s account of what happened that day is I did not threaten her, nor suggest that it never happened or anything of the kind. Indeed, Judy told several people close to her how pleased she was with the experience.

In the days that followed, Judy told several people that our relationship was ongoing and that I should get divorced so that we could be together. Hearing this, I reiterated, to Judy—in the most clear but loving way I knew how—that there would be no recurrence of what had happened between us, and that her belief in the possibility of my leaving my marriage “so we could be together” was sheer fantasy on her part.

In hindsight, having more understanding of interpersonal dynamics than I possessed at age 24, I see that Judy likely felt rejected by my declaration of boundary. I wish I had had the wisdom, first, not to not be drawn into contact entirely, but secondly, to have been able to handle Judy’s disappointment with more delicacy. I However, Judy was making false claims that shocked me, and that had no basis in reality. One was that I had sent her picture of myself undressed from a gay “hook up” magazine of some kind. Although I do not remember the details of what she said, it was part of a fantasized narrative.  Both Judy’s note to me demanding that I leave my wife, and her already distorted narrative of what had happened between us, I was at a loss of how to respond.

Even so, the situation might yet have been dealt with at the time in a manner that could have provided learning and resolution. Unfortunately, religious settings are not immune to politics. Regrettably, and to the detriment of all concerned, Judy was brought to a senior rabbi, Rabbi B. Rabbi B was known to be strongly competitive with my teacher, Rabbi R, and was also known for his intense personal dislike for me.

Without ever approaching me, he began to spread Judy’s story which was a significantly distorted version of what happened. I wanted to be able to acknowledge what was true in the story, and to take responsibility for it, while clarifying the aspects of it that were untrue. My hope was to create clarity and healing around the occurrence. Given Rabbi B’s known hostility to me, however, I wondered whether it was possible.

At the time, I had a female colleague, who was a respected leader in the community and well known as a feminist. She and I were friends, and she was also a friend of Rabbi B and his wife. I told her exactly what had transpired and asked her counsel. She offered to speak with the rabbi and assess whether, in spite of his unconcealed dislike of me, an honest conversation could be had and the mistake potentially be rectified. After talking with the rabbi and his wife, she called and suggested we meet.

When we met at the South Street Seaport, this is what she told me: “When I talked to Rabbi B., it was clear that no honest conversation is possible.” She went on to say, ( I am paraphrasing here from memory but this is the gist), “I talked to Rabbi B. He wants to use this to destroy you. He and his wife hate you, especially because you are Rabbi R’s poster boy. Rabbi B’s wife had 2 nervous breakdowns working for your mentor, Rabbi R. The only thing you can do for both you and Judy, is to get on with your lives. What Judy is saying is largely not true. But there is no possible forum here to discuss what did happen and create healing. Rabbi B simply wants to destroy you. Get on with your life and let her get on with her life.”

I did not know what else to do. I took my colleague’s advice. Some weeks after this conversation, I encountered Rabbi B in the hallways of the university where we both worked. I confronted him saying, “Let’s talk about this. Why are you attacking me? Why are you assuming the story you have been told is true?” Rabbi B answered me harshly and angrily, making it clear that there was no room for conversation. The conversation took a sharp turn and ended a couple of moments later when the rabbi lost his temper entirely, and took a swing at me, saying something like, “I will bring you down.” This turns out to have been no idle threat.

Since then, Rabbi B, much like the inspector in Les Miserables, has pursued me. He made every attempt to undermine me for the next 25 years. I realize such a statement seems dramatic, yet, I am not exaggerating this at all. It is simply what happened. It would take up too much space here to narrate every incident in his unceasing effort to fulfill the vow he made that day. Suffice it to say, for now, that this rabbi’s continual, purposeful attack changed my entire life from that moment forward. If it becomes necessary at some point I will write an article detailing the intensity and cruelty of this more then two decades of attack which set the stage for the later false complaints.

 

Vicki Polin & Marc Gafni

  • Rabbi B subsequently became publicly aligned with a woman named Vicki Polin. Vicki ran a disreputable website called “The Awareness Center,” which was dedicated to “outing” Jewish clergymen who had been said to have been involved in some form of sexual misconduct, however loosely defined.

From what can be gathered based from on statements by Vicki Polin, Rabbi X brought Judy to Vicki. He also apparently introduced Sara K to Vicki. Vicki seems to have become both therapist and mentor to Judy, and also to Sara, and to be one of the people who brought the two of them into close contact. She was pivotal in encouraging them to see their encounters with me as a form of deliberate sexual abuse.

Vicki Polin herself had once appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, where she claimed to have participated in a Satanic cult where she murdered a baby as part of a ritual sacrifice. (She also claimed in another forum, to have been raped on Torah scrolls.) I mention this to point out that many people have challenged Vicki’s credibility, and indeed her stability for a long list of substantive reasons.

Whatever actually happened to Vicki Polin, in her own life, one wonders whether her feelings about it color her interpretations, inclining her to see the diabolical where it does not exist. One also wonders about the veracity of her memories and about the integrity of her work with Judy, Sara and others.

Vicki has also referred to her connection with Rabbi B on the web, saying (one imagines affectionately), that they were “partners in crime,” which, given his pledge to destroy me, was worrisome.

In 2004, more than 20 years after our encounter, Vicki brought Judy and Sara to a blogger named Luke Ford. Luke, a former gossip columnist for the pornography industry, had recently become a practicing orthodox Jew, and was at the time a fairly close associate of Vicki Polin’s.

Judy and Sara related their stories to Luke, who published them on his blog, in a way that bore little resemblance to what had actually happened. It had been turned into a sexual abuse narrative. Notably, the narratives of Judy and Sarah, who seem by this time, to have been in close contact with one another, described our encounters in almost the exact (highly pejorative) same terms. These stories appeared on the web in 2003 – 2004. By that time, I was 43, had published several books, lived in Israel where I headed a loosely organized spiritual/social movement called Beit Chadash, and had become something of a public figure.

Though horrified by the rendition of events I read, my first inclination was to reach out. I thought it might be possible to meet and establish some respectful framework in which to discuss the disparities in our remembrances and to achieve, if possible, some level of reconciliation and resolution. A close colleague urged me to first seek input, and so in consultation with others, I shared all aspects of the situation with two key female members of my Board of Directors. Again, as originally with Judy, it was the involvement of a third party—with motives that extended beyond facts, fairness or the desire for a positive outcome, that created hesitation.

In reading the posts on Vicki Polin’s website, one can see that she tended to take wild swings at multiple targets, some of which were wildly off the mark. She often made legitimate attempts to battle real sexual abuse. But she also hurled baseless allegations at people who had engaged in ordinary sexual relationships. Given her representation of Judy, it was recommended by my board members that I refrain from engaging the situation at the time. I consulted with these same two powerful women board members about whether we should share with several key supporters that there was some limited contact had taken place. We consulted legal counsel as well in regard to this question.

Because of Vicki’s involvement, and the historical animosity of Rabbi B, it seemed to us that there was no possibility of having any sort of appropriate conversation. Vicki had a history of disregarding in favor of intentionally defamatory allegations aimed at inciting outrage. For instance, in a 2006 post she sent to her list, stating I was “a danger to prepubescent boys and girls.”  There was no basis for this at all; as far as I can tell, she simply made that up. At 46, my age in 2006, more than 22 years after the lamentable interaction with Judy, (which again, took place when I was 24 and Judy was 16, when she obviously was not pre-pubescent)—at this moment, such an inaccurate, intentionally inflammatory and vicious allegation does not reflect a desire for a clear and just solution for all concerned.

Taking Responsibility

It is a complex matter to take responsibility for what one has done when one is also being accused of having done things far in excess of the reality. It becomes even more difficult when a hearer of “the story” appropriates it, as in the case of Rabbi B, and propagates a distorted or outright false version of it, in a political maneuver designed to destroy you once and for all.

It becomes even more difficult when this story is picked up decades later, by a small group of people who have disguised hidden agendas that they hide behind the claim that they are “protecting future victims.” These people recast the events, falsely imputing to me predatory motives, and embellishing the stories with actual lies as well as inflammatory language designed to excite fear and loathing in a reader. In short, to paint a picture of what some of them call a “monster” and a “sociopath”—words that have been used freely.

When you are being lied about on such a scale, you find yourself in a profound ethical dilemma. You want to reach around the person(s) invested in vilification, to create some healing, but there is both no way to do it, and a high likelihood that your attempt would be used as further evidence of your “nefarious intent.”

I wish I had seen a way at that time, to be completely forthcoming without feeling it would very likely cause infinitely more harm than good. But now, I am faced with responding to Judy’s current claims—revised and continually expanding—which actually contradict even her own earlier statements. To do so, however, requires a digression in order to identify additional elements that further confounded the situation.

 

Slander Against Marc Gafni from an Ex-Wife

In 2006, my former wife, Chaya Lester, and I, Marc Gafni, had split up. Initially, we were on decent terms. With a therapist, we engaged in a process in which we acknowledged our respective mistakes as well as the positive aspects of our relationship. We acknowledged the gifts we felt the union had brought to each of us, which we felt would endure beyond our parting. We wished each other well. Though Chaya came from a wealthy background, and I did not, I gave her, in parting, the bulk of my savings, which were originally intended for my children. We blessed each other and committed to moving on.

Some time after, Chaya called me. She asked me to return to Jewish Orthodoxy and remarry her. After I said, as lovingly as I could, that I did not wish to remarry her, she told me that she had been seeing a man who wanted to marry her. She said that I still loomed too large in her life, for her to accept his offer of marriage. She said that I would have to “die or disappear” for her to be able to move on. In retrospect, this wording should have worried me more.

A few months later, false complaints about me were circulated in Israel. This was complicated by the fact that in Israeli law, certain elements of inappropriate courtship behavior have been declared to constitute a felony. One of these is to promise to marry in order to lure someone into sexual relations. This is something I never did, nor ever would do. However, this was the chief complaint against me. The complainants told my community and the Israeli press that I was wanted by the police for sexual harassment. In fact, the police had never registered any complaint—the claim that they had was a deliberate falsehood designed to ruin my reputation and, of course, mess with my head. To make such a false claim and to claim that a police complaint had been registered is an act of such intense violence that it is difficult to know how to even talk about it. Such claims can lead to imprisonment.

This claim about the promise to marry was made by Mia Cohen, a close friend of New York rabbi named David Ingber. Ingber was a former student of mine, and according to what Mia told me, had been doing his best to turn her against me. There is good reason to believe that he was not only encouraged but was a primary catalyst of the false complaints which Mia instigated.

I did not find out until 2014, that the police had not actually registered any complaints. Three key people had instigated these false allegations. One of them, as she boasted to a colleague of mine last year, was my former wife, Chaya Lester. Mia was the second, while a former assistant of mine was the third. They made sure to publicize the false allegations as though official action was eminent. My former assistant had access to my computer, all my contacts, and every other aspect of my personal and professional life. She used these contacts to present the group’s false accusations to my community, and also erased from my computer all email records that showed the truth about my relationships with the women involved. (These relationships had been not only consensual, but loving and affectionate.)

When the accusations emerged, I was returning to Israel from a book tour. What was happening made no sense to me. When I went to locate all the pertinent e-mails, and other electronic communications that clearly refuted the information contained in the false complaints, I was stunned to find everything deleted. It took time, money and a highly skilled computer forensics expert to eventually be able to retrieve the deleted material.

Because I could not disprove the allegations conclusively without access to these deleted files, and because what was alleged included what constituted a felony in Israel, I turned to a lawyer for advice. He and others with knowledge of how the Israeli legal system works, urged me to leave Israel temporarily and remain silent until it could be determined whether or not the deleted material was retrievable. My ten years of devoted and delighted participation in Israeli culture turned overnight into a bizarre and terrifying nightmare. During the two years I was forced to remain silent, the false stories perpetrated by David, Chaya and their cohorts took hold in the Jewish community and elsewhere. And remember, not only were these complaints false, they also did not actually exist in the legal system.

 

Marc Gafni — How Do We Judge the Truth of Another Person?

How does one discern the truth about a man or woman? When others speak or write ill of someone, how do we discern between truth, rumor, envious reports, or sheer malice? Virtually anyone who has ever stepped up to make a contribution—whether on the public stage or locally—will have, not only endorsers and fans, but also detractors. Our culture values effort, not passivity, but hard-won achievement normally elicits equal parts of admiration, and envy—the desire to emulate, side by side with the desire to destroy.

To further complicate this issue, most of us “ fail,” before “succeeding.” We commit acts of stupidity and misjudgment, before achieving any significant degree of wisdom and maturity. So, given all this, how does one sort truth from fiction, fact from hyperbole, and human error from irremediable pathology? The gratitude of those a person has benefited is rarely reported. Defamatory denunciation, however, is the stuff of Internet flaming. And malicious intent regularly disguises itself as crusading virtue.

There are aspects of my personality that I know give rise to varying interpretations. My mother wrote in my childhood scrapbook that I was, (even then), preoccupied with love and connecting. This quality never changed. I think, however, that back then, it was less open to misinterpretation.

My own parents had hard lives—living through the Holocaust, and subjected to other related horrors—before they ever met and married. So, I did not come from a privileged or easy background. Whatever I aspired to was something I had to create. Moreover, I did not grow up certain of my capacities or abilities, but I very much desired to share whatever gifts I had in a positive and meaningful way.

And so, over the course of my life, I have worked very hard. I have been dedicated and even driven. Once Rabbi B began his attack in my mid-twenties, I was forced to work triply hard in order to have a chance to give my gifts, and to overcome the distortion that he sowed in so many places where I had wanted to share my gifts. I see now that my need to compensate for this handicap, combined with an innate intensity and a commitment to my vision was often construed as being too ambitious.  Yet, I am not competitive with others. Instead, I’ve always tried to surpass my own prior efforts – wanting to do more, and to create more.

These qualities, at least in my life, seem to activate a kind of primal jealousy and competition in those prone to it. My need for intimate connection makes me vulnerable, and my natural expansiveness can feel to others as if I were stepping into their territory. I was relatively naïve about how my energetic and expansive ways were sometimes resented by those who felt that I took up too much space in the rooms we were in together.

Another issue here is that I have not led a conventional Orthodox life. My original idea of partnership, in keeping with Jewish tradition was  of one marriage that lasted a lifetime. As it turned out, I could not do it that way. In the course of my life, I have gone through phases of  monogamous relationship, of celibacy, but also, of romantic involvement with more than one person at a time. My choice of involvements –whether of friends or of lovers—has tended to be with like-minded others involved in shared work or shared creative visions. I do not consider myself indiscriminant. I have not had a great many partners compared to other lay men my age—though certainly in comparison to most other rabbis

It has never been interesting to me to be intimate with someone I did not care for and about. And, it has been my way to hold my involvements privately, especially if a relationship is in an incipient phase. It always seemed wrong to broadcast a relationship prematurely—before letting it unfold into whatever depth of connection mutually developed. Moreover since I was living in a conventional context, my own naturally post-conventional nature seemed best held privately. I never taught one thing and did another. Indeed, I never intended to teach about new possibilities in sexuality. This has emerged as a new obligation that I feel precisely because of the false complaints and smear campaign.

My partners are not male—not due to any prejudice but simply preference. Nor are they children—as Vicki Polin’s past posting has claimed. Notwithstanding the two experiences described above—my love for Sara when still in my teens, and the brief one-time interaction with Judy, my attentions have been, in my own adulthood, with other adults.

Also, and I suspect this is true of many leaders in various arenas of public exposure, I have declined and stepped away from many more invitations to intimate involvement than I have ever allowed to unfold. I cannot imagine coercing someone into sexual involvement, even inadvertently. Not only is such a thing anathema to my personal ethics, but also I have never lacked opportunities for romantic partnership.

Over the years that I was a youth leader, the interaction with Judy was a solitary occurrence So, the claims that Vicki Polin makes, in which she extrapolates from a single youthful error to assert that I am “a danger to prepubescent boys and girls,” or the Internet’s categorization of me as “a child rapist,” is totally inaccurate and slanderous. My own children read such things, and have laughed at the absurdity of such an attribution . . . before they weep at the devastation it has inflicted on us all, and in their disbelief that these false characterizations continue to be perpetrated again and again.

 

Marc Gafni — What Created this New Resurrection?

Did I commit some purported new offense? No. Rather, an unholy alliance was formed, between a person, who, while claiming to serve a just cause, is serving himself, and his own interests. He is conspiring, (I know that sounds paranoid, but this is documented truth), with a couple of other people. They began an orchestrated media campaign to take me, Marc Gafni, down, which they made to look like a “movement” by employing a playbook of media campaign techniques.

What are the primary motives and tactics of these co-conspirators?

  • Covering up false accusations from the past.
  • Resentment and retaliation because I ended relationship(s) that the other party wished to continue.
  • A desire, by some, for notoriety and to appear valorous or heroic.
  • Efforts to hide aspects of their own prior misrepresentations and their own secrets.
  • In a move that has become sadly familiar to our culture, the perpetrators of this campaign call themselves ‘rescuers’ or even ‘victims’. They claim to speak for ‘virtue’, and deny any motivation of malice. They then:
    • Use intense persuasion, and implicit and actual threats to convince others not to support or collaborate on any joint endeavors with me
    • Enlist significant spokespeople (especially several who depend on their alliance with one of the perpetrators for their own success in the spiritual marketplace) to do take-down propaganda.
    • Use any means necessary to paint such a defamatory picture of me, that anyone who does not know the true nature of the ulterior motives and lies, can be hoodwinked into feeling they would be remedying some horrific social ill by signing a petition against me.
    • Enlist well-meaning bystanders who, in hearing the smear campaign propaganda, find it plausible, unaware that it has exceedingly little to do with reality.

As the smear campaign continued to unfold in January of this year, we were contacted by an individual who said that she had been closely involved with Judy. This person had first written to the N.Y. Daily News in response to a piece the Times had run, which quoted Judy. In her letter to the News, this person took the paper to task, and then reiterated to us what taking them to task.

This person told us, “ . . . She has “admitted that she has lied about the Marc Gafni affair, because he “rebuffed her . . . advances.” He would NOT leave his wife for her, which sent her into an intense mania. She has STALKED him all of his life . . . ”

The reason I believed that this person had indeed been close to Judy was because only Judy and I knew about her reaction 30 years ago when I let her know that nothing further would happen between us.

This same source close to Judy said she saw many red flags in Judy’s stories and that she felt that Judy’s stories about Marc Gafni were “bullshit”. She also asserted that Judy claimed to have “slept with many rabbis” and offered several other pieces of information that showed Judy in a light that makes it virtually impossible to trust as a reliable reporter. (Unless there is a dire and pressing need, I will not share private information about Judy’s life and psychological history.)

After Judy’s claims resurfaced in 2006, (in even more confabulated form), I contacted a respected former judge, and asked him what people do when it is necessary to refute a 30 year old claim when no documentation exists. What allows someone to establish the truth of one claim versus another’s? He said that the methods were polygraph testing and psychological evaluation.

So, in 2007, I sought out the most expert people I could find. In the polygraph arena, it was Gordon Barland, former director of polygraph research for the U.S. Dept. of Defense who administered the expert Polygraphs. The report of those results is available. In the polygraph I was asked if Judy asked me to sleep with her. If this were to be the case it would completely undermine Judy’s representation of what happened. My version of what happened was in fact supported by the polygraph tests.

One would think that in a free market system, there would be no need to poison one’s perceived competitors, or to try to destroy their reputations. We are not the Borgia’s, nor are we a medieval or Puritan theocracy. We are an open, democratic society. The way of such a society is to give people freedom to find out what is true and meaningful and authentic for them. If you doubt a teacher’s integrity, or think they have nothing to teach you (or anyone), you don’t need to crucify them. Simply don’t go listen to them. Don’t buy their books. Share your opinion with your friends.  Gone are the days of book burnings or burning others at the stake, or banning people from your village, because you disagree with, or feel threatened by them. You need not annihilate them, attempt to drive them into the ground while proclaiming yourself the protector and rescuer of civilization, as we know it. But when a person or group deliberately takes a few facts, distorts them, and adds incendiary and unprovable negative allegations, the chances are high that there are ulterior motives involved. Either that person or group has personal, psychological or political agendas and ambitions, or they are committed to a vendetta. If one’s goal is truly a spiritual one, one must care about collateral damage. If peace, integrity and transformation are the goal, then going on the attack without fair process, without fact checking or examining one’s own motivation has no place.

In this world, every leader is at risk to being subjected to Internet abuse, and smears. We see this in the political arena, but in the smaller world of spiritual teachers, where there is very little mechanism for checking facts, opinion often reigns, and the loudest voice wins. To counter them, one needs powerful allies, and, of course, a lot of money. Lacking those advantages, all one can do is speak one’s truth, and hope that fair—minded people will hear.