Frequently Asked Questions
I'm asked several questions frequently enough to answer them here.
- Why did this guy target us?
- Why I didn't just get off the net or change my email address or something when the harassment started?
- Why did I ever respond to this jerk? Why did I go so far as to create this web site?
- Am I obsessed with Hillyard?
- But couldn't it be somebody else? Even more than one person?
- Why did I "stir things up" by publishing this web site after things had died down?
- Why did I take my old web site down?
- How long will this site stay up?
- Am I seeking publicity?
- Have I been paid for any interviews or television appearances or anything?
- Isn't it a violation of netiquette to publish private emails without the sender's permission?
- Is it really fair to spread what I've learned about Hillyard all over the net?
- But he'll just respond by publishing more stuff about you, so why bother?
- Do you know about his site(s)?
- Did you know that he has photos of you on that site?
- Did you know about his involvement in prostitution?
- What about the lawsuit?
Why I didn't just get off the net or change my email address or something when the harassment started?
For one thing, my profession requires that I use the internet and stay current in many areas on topics that are best researched via the net. I have an excellent professional and social reputation under my own name and the moniker TechnoMom, and many people know my current email addresses. I would not escape Dick Coward's notice if I simply changed my email address, and I refuse to start over again from scratch under some pseudonym. In any case, no professional can expect to do business under an assumed identity and expect to retain any credibility. As you see, none of those options were realistic for me. Sticking my head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the danger this person represents would not make the danger go away. This person claims to have followed us home once already—I have no doubt that if he obtains our physical address again, he'll follow us again or worse. Finally, as long as I'm on the net, I can at least monitor much of his activity and know what he's saying and refute it when warranted.
Why did I ever respond to this jerk? Why did I go so far as to create this web site?
Well, information cannot be "taken back" once it is distributed. As long as people researching my background on the net come up with any of the lies spread about me and forged in my name I find it best to keep this site here so that those researchers will also hear my side of the story, and see the evidence that backs up my claims. (Such research is routinely done before hiring someone in this industry, sometimes before even interviewing that person.) I also want other victims of harassment to know that they can and should fight back. In any case, I had to pull all of the evidence together and explain it for the prosecutor before Hillyard's trial anyway, so most of the work for this site was already done.
An individual well acquainted with the case once said "If Hillyard had searched the entire state of Georgia for a woman to target, he couldn't have made a poorer choice than he did." That is, in many ways, true—I do not run away from threats, I don't hide when something frightens me, and I'm fortunate enough to have had more technical knowledge about the internet than the average user and a supportive community of people who have helped me throughout this experience.
Am I obsessed with Hillyard?
No, in fact I'd prefer never to hear another thing about him or from him. For the reasons explained above, though, I will keep this web site here, and continue to record his actions (known and suspected), until the harassment stops and all the lies about me are gone from the net and similar records. Until that time, it takes far less time to refute Hillyard's claims once here than to worry about what is said about me in various forums.
But couldn't it be somebody else? Even more than one person?
No, not realistically. For one thing, I don't have a lot of enemies. For another, there is too much evidence tied too strongly to Hillyard to be ignored. Because some people can't seem to pull those items out of the huge timeline (and I absolutely understand why!) I've provided a detailed explanation of why I believe Hillyard is the one and only culprit.
Why did I "stir things up" by publishing this web site after things had died down?
Things never died down. Hillyard never went away. I held off releasing the full site until after the trial in July 1997 (and after the proscutor recommended that I release it), but now there isn't really any reason not to release it. Forged prostitution ads were posted in August and September 1997. Anonymous web sites attacking me started appearing in September 1997, and continued until Hillyard published one on his own domain in December 1997. I didn't stir anything up—I simply responded more forcefully than I have in the past.
Why did I take my old web site down?
Well, after getting incredible numbers of hits the few hours after each set of forged posts was made, I realized I was going to be receiving a bandwidth bill from MindSpring and didn't see any reason to waste more resources on this jerk. Now that things have settled down a bit, I've published a new site.
How long will this site stay up?
It will remain until every bit of the harassing material is gone and forgotten and other victims don't need to hear a friendly voice. I may move this site to another location, and it may be revised from time to time, but it will remain available.
Am I seeking publicity?
No, but neither am I avoiding it. Some reporters sought me out (usually through the CyberAngels or WHOA) and requested interviews for stories they'd already planned. I didn't approach them. In fact, people who approach shows like Unsolved Mysteries and 20/20 Downtown are probably regarded as kooks. I have granted interviews when I thought they would help to forward the cause of Internet safety or assist other victims. I have not done any interviews with people who wanted to focus on me rather than the case and the issues it raises. I did not even give the first few reporters who requested interviews permission to use my name. I'm more comfortable at a keyboard than in front of a camera. In fact, anybody who wanted to do so could get the information from this site just as easily or even more easily than they could by contacting me for an interview.
Have I been paid for any interviews or television appearances or anything?
No. I've made no profit, and sought no profit, from this nightmare. It has cost me money rather than earning it! Unsolved Mysteries paid for airline tickets to Los Angeles, my hotel, a rental car, and $40/day per diem (3 day trip, $120) to cover parking, meals, and incidentals. A week or so after I returned to Atlanta they sent me a baseball cap with the show's logo on it, which I gave to Katie. The trip was arranged on a few days' notice, which caused some fast shuffling to take care of things at work. The per diem money wouldn't have covered one day of my consulting fees. The Oprah folks flew me up to Chicago, carted me around in a limosine, paid for my hotel stay, and gave me a nice coffee mug.
Isn't it a violation of netiquette to publish private emails without the sender's permission?
Back in July 1996, there was a notice on my web site that said:
At a former job I had a sign over my desk that said "Sexual harassment may not be reported but it will be graded. Publicly." The cyberspace equivalent is that if you send me wanna-fuck or harassing email I'll post it publicly in the forum I judge most likely to embarass the hell out of you. You've been warned. Go play in AOL's chat rooms.
I had received a couple of very mildly annoying emails at that time (the kind anyone who uses an obviously female name on the net gets), which is why the notice was there. Hillyard obviously spent a lot of time on my web site, so he certainly had prior notice that anything he sent to me might well be reproduced later on. In any case, I am not at all worried about complying with netiquette in regards to a criminal who sends obscene email to children.
Is it really fair to spread what I've learned about Hillyard all over the net?
Fair? If we're going to use terms like "fair" I think you need to go back and check the kind of crap Hillyard/Dick Coward has spread across the net about me—with no evidence to back up his stories and with a complete refusal to provide any proof at all. What I've published about him is true, and I've provided evidence to document my claims. I've published nothing that isn't publicly available to anyone and everyone. Had I obtained any information unethically, I wouldn't be publishing it. I haven't published information about any of his family members, other than the email address of those whose names have been used in attacks against me. And again, back when Hillyard first started sending obscene email to me, I explicitly warned him (in a public post) that continued harassment would result in the publication of everything I could learn about him. Of course, at that time I didn't know just how much he had to hide, like his criminal record—but he did, and people who live in glass houses should be very careful about throwing stones. And, no matter what he claims, publishing information that is verifiably true and publicly accessible to all, including his telephone number, address, and criminal conviction record, is neither libelous nor defamatory.
But he'll just respond by publishing more stuff about you, so why bother?
Well, if I had anything to hide, I might worry. As it is, the things he seems to find most shameful about me (the fact that I'm fat, have been divorced three times, have been treated for depression, and refer to myself as a bitch) are things I'd already mentioned in my web pages and various usenet posts, so I find it funny that he makes a big fuss over them. It does bother me a little that he has never hesitated to make up lies about me, but he did that long before I published this web site, so I can't see that this site makes a bit of difference in his behavior.
Do you know about his site(s)?
Hillyard's hate site—yes, I do know that it exists. No, I don't go look at it as it isn't important to me. And yes, I also know about the remarkably similar hate site he has or had on one of his domains about another woman.
Did you know that he has photos of you on that site?
Yes, I know that he has photos on that site pulled from some of the television shows I've done. I don't care—if I had a problem with my image being available I wouldn't have agreed to go on television. I imagine the copyright holders for those shows might care, but I don't know why anyone else would get upset.
Did you know about his involvement in prostitution?
Yes, I know that he is or was involved in prostitution. I could hardly help knowing that, considering that I and my family members have repeatedly been harassed by having ads posted about us on prostitution-related web sites. I have consulted with one metro-area law enforcement agency and would be happy to assist others if contacted by officers seeking information or assistance. I doubt that they need that, at this point, though, as personnel in three different departments have stated that Hillyard is well-known to their vice officers.
What about the lawsuit?
There is no lawsuit. I realize that Hillyard has implied on his site (and according to others has stated outright in various prostitution-related forums) that he won a lawsuit against me but hasn't been able to collect the money. There has never been any legal action against me or anyone that I know of or who is involved with me in any way shape or form in relation to this case—none. There is no record of Hillyard winning any civil judgment in the state of Georgia in that time. Although Hillyard has been making threats of legal action since 1996, I have yet to see even one piece of paper to back up his claims. Of course, if there were any action against me, I'd have to be served with a notice. He might have sued someone else, but I find that unlikely—if there were a real lawsuit and a real judgement, surely he could cite the date, the court, the case number, etc. or even scan in a copy of the judgement? If, as I believe, the lawsuit story is just another of his lies, though, he can't give anyone any of that information. He'll probably just continue to imply such things on his site and lie about them in forums he knows I (like most people who aren't prostitutes or their clients) don't and won't follow.