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Untangling an online breakup.
February 20, 2001 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Untangling an online breakup. Seapetal vs. Gothimuscle: a bond between author and bodybuilder formed in bondage ends with matching restraining orders. With a "trail of cyber-breadcrumbs" in the form of scurrious emails, chat-room stalking and nude photos that leads all the way to the Fetish Fleamarket, this anti-love story bears all the trapings of a Boston.com headline on a slow news day. But the question remains: where and how do we process crimes of harassment that occur in virtual places under assumed screen names? What's a real-world restraining order good for when all the attacking is done on the net?
posted by sixfoot6 (5 comments total)

 
Hm. Those are certainly hard questions to answer, and I don't think I can as yet discuss this topic objectively. Why? Because I've watched Kadet's behavior myself over the last two or three years, ever since he was instrumental in getting a leather club called Restraints closed down. He's had some very public on-line and real-life feuds within metro Boston S/M scene. The man's pretty much discredited himself via poor public behavior.

In fact, Kadet's reputation for and history of feuding reads like a case study of how little the law can do with cyber harassment, but it would take quite a bit of legwork for me to detail some of the feuds he's been involved in.

Actually, I'm just a tad skeptical of the story itself -- it's entirely possible that it's a warped publicity stunt Kadet's staging to promote his book. I didn't see hide nor hair of the man at the Fetish Flea and I made a point of talking to just about all of the authors there. And he's been pretty much invisible, ever since, in the wake of Paddleboro and a dominatrix wrongful death case, the local leather scene told reporters not to use Kadet as an expert source. I wouldn't be surprised if he's either staged this -- or escalated it -- to keep himself in the public eye.




posted by debrahyde at 10:26 AM on February 20, 2001


The interesting thing is that these things usually spill over at least somewhat into a physical realm as well. Google search of the screen names mentioned in the article turns up this, describing a very real-world incident.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2001


Search Google's usenet stuff (shudder) and you'll find more recent antagonistic goings-on.

I agree, DI -- there's more and more of a cyber/physical realm blurring. I think it shows how integrated online avenues have become into everyday living.

Getting back to sixfoot6's original questions, it would be interesting to have the court transcripts to see what criteria the judge employed in his rulings. Quite possibly it came down to the old fashioned "most believable party" in the matter.

I do know that when the ssbs group encounters charter breakers, they post warnings to the infractor and then trace the account from which the person posted. I know they looked into who was whom when a Kadet-inspired (if not executed) "posing" incident happened last year. I imagine a good cyber P.I./police detective could do some fancy evidence gathering to prove online stalking, but it would probably require a warrant at some point in the process to examine the suspect's drive.
posted by debrahyde at 5:22 PM on February 21, 2001


A friend of mine was harassed in similar fashion. She eventually took him to court and forced him to take down a website with nude photographs of her, and he pled guilty to felony stalking and did a token series of counseling sessions, finally leaving her alone. Three and a half years after their divorce.

In the end the most controversial aspect of it, the virtual-space questions, did not come up in court. She managed to get his e-mail threats entered into evidence with no trouble, and the judge accepted that printouts she had done of his websites were corroborating evidence. It was one of the first online stalking cases in the country, and the prosecutor went on to give a talk on it at a national seminar.
posted by dhartung at 11:59 PM on February 21, 2001


dhartung,

Is the prosecutor's talk published anywhere? I'm interested. [s]

In the Boston scene, people who wind up on the short end of Kadet's stick simply take the high road and ignore him for the most part. Until now, if this case is actually to be believed, that worked fine.

Not long ago, I asked a noted S/M author who's been an ongoing Kadet target why he didn't take any legal action against a flagrant horrid fictionalization he suffered in Kadet's novel. He told me that book publishers contractually shift all blame for such misprepresentations to the author and since Kadet was a starving artist like the rest of us, he shrugged his shoulders with a "why bother?" attitude. I admire the man's patience.

I suppose most people familiar with Kadet are thinking "here he goes again." Even I am. But I'm also hesitant to declare this situation an outright publicity stunt because I figure Kadet's public history indicates that he's vindictive enough to harass and stalk someone. I don't want to greatly discount the situation, despite my initial skepticism.

posted by debrahyde at 7:19 AM on February 22, 2001


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