In The Press
Over the last few years, I have granted interviews to several journalists who were researching cyberstalking and high-tech harassment. Most of those journalists had contacted the CyberAngels for information and some were referred through WHOA.
In most cases, I have suggested that the journalist also contact Hillyard to get his side of the story. He has communicated with several that I know of. All of those organizations (except maybe Hard Copy) were interested in presenting a balanced story.
If anyone has physical copies of these articles, I'd love to get a good photocopy. I don't have copies of most of them. I've done several other print interviews, and will provide dates and additional information after they are published.
- San Francisco Chronicle - Stalkers Find a New Tool -- the Internet/E-mail is increasingly used to threaten and harass, authorities say.
- I did an interview with a freelance reporter working on a story for Glamour. We began talking about the story in 1997, but due to editorial delays and so on the story wasn't finalized for a while. She expected it to be published in the June 1998 issue of the magazine. She did speak with Hillyard (he says on 3/30/98). By 4/2/98 he had published several lies on his web site about their interview, and offered to give her name and phone number out to anyone who asked for it. She asked that he remove the lies from his web site, but as of 4/5/98 he had not done so.
- I did an interview with Cotton Ward that was published in issue 44 of .Net, a computer magazine published in the UK. She got a few minor details wrong, but the article was well-done.
- Karen Stauffer did an article on Internet safety for the May issue of the Catholic Digest, interviewing me and Colin Hatcher, who was at that time associated with the CyberAngels.
- John Hendren of the Associated Press spoke to me in March 1997. He contacted Hillyard, as well, who contradicted himself in many ways in just a brief interview. Hendren called me back to double-check some facts, and told me that Hillyard
- Claimed he'd never been charged with stalking. (I'd faxed Hendren a copy of the subpoenas calling me to testify as a witness in the stalking and harassing phone calls cases).
- That the charges had been dropped. (These are the charges that weren't ever made, right?)
- And that at his trial his lawyer was going to present every post I'd ever made to prove I was a "sick and twisted woman."" (His lawyer is preparing for a trial for charges that were never filed and but were dropped?)
- I did an interview with Colleen O'Connor of the Dallas Morning News in September 1996 for an article about online harassment. I did not give permission for the use of my name, so it simply referred to me as "an Atlanta woman." I did not receive a tear sheet for the article and don't know the exact date on which it ran.
- Kevin Whitelaw of U.S. News & World Report interviewed me in October 1996. Again, I did not give permission to use my name, so I was called "an Atlanta woman" again. He got a few of the details wrong, but the story did appear on November 4, 1996.
Several other television shows have requested interviews. I have not yet agreed to do any of those shows.
- Interest in this topic seems to come in cycles. In October 1999 I was contacted by a producer from the ABC show 20/20 Downtown and by reporter Dale Cardwell of a local television station, WSB. The WSB interview was filmed in November and I think it aired sometime that month—it might have been December (I can't remember now). The 20/20 interview was taped in November 1999 and aired in February 2000, at least in the Atlanta market—apparently it has been aired at different times in different places.
While I don't know whether or not WSB contacted Hillyard, ABC did. They spoke to his lawyer (a new one, apparently) who claimed that they were suing me (when, already?) and also made some defamatory statements about me. Apparently the lawyer was too smart to put them in writing, darn it. Hillyard and his lawyer refused to be interviewed on screen, and were apparently very put out that ABC wouldn't simply cancel the episode or put their version of the story into it without granting interviews.
- At some time in the fall of 1998—I've forgotten exactly when it was—I did an interview with some people from a Swedish network, Sverige something.
On March 26, 1998 I received email from the CyberAngels saying that a producer from the Oprah show wanted to interview me. I spoke to one of their producers later that day, and learned that they were doing a show on safety and avoiding being the victim of a crime or a scam. I agreed to appear on the show, and flew up to Chicago on April 1. We taped the show on April 2 and I flew home. My portion of the show is extremely brief, and I fear I wasn't able to get my points across as I'd like. The show aired on Monday, April 6, 1998.
I did an interview with the producers of the BBC show The Net. They flew here from London to do the interview, and also interviewed Colin Hatcher of the CyberAngels and Detective Debbie Wynne of the Dekalb County Police Department. I had extensive conversation with the reporter doing the story and was pleasantly surprised—she's the first reporter who really seemed to have dug into the technical and other aspects of the story, having read every word of my web site and the archived posts representing much of the harassment. I have seen a tape of the episode—it was much better than any of the others so far, and the show and the associated web site did include helpful information on protecting oneself. I don't believe the show will air in the US. The show aired on March 2, 1998, and a summary was published on their web site. (And within hours of the show airing, Dick Coward was forging more newsgroup messages in retaliation, and shortly afterwards Hillyard's web site was updated to include attacks on Hatcher, Wynne, and Illuminations.)
The production company, Illuminations, did contact Hillyard, offering to let him tell his side of the story. I encouraged them to give him that opportunity to be fair to him. Their only contact with him was via email and fax. He sent back a fax refusing the interview, saying he'd sue anyone who aired any accusations against him, lying about several aspects of the case and taking a couple of cheap (and very predictable) potshots at me. (They did read portions of the fax on the show, since he refused the interview.) He then emailed them, accusing them of having attempted to hack into his web site when they were simply viewing his pages.
After the CyberAngels asked that I do so, I did an interview with Edward Miller of Hard Copy on October 8, 1997. The segment was originally scheduled to air in early November, but was moved back and aired on December 3 (or 4, in some markets). I did, finally, see it, and was disappointed in both the quality of the shots (honestly, they're horrible) and the way the piece was edited. There was absolutely no useful information left in the piece, although we'd discussed various ways for Internet users to protect themselves. Dealing with Hard Copy was a negative experience from beginning to end, but we all make mistakes (and believe me, I learned from this one).
Miller told me he'd made multiple attempts to contact Hillyard's lawyer, Steve Roberts, as I had suggested that Hillyard might not appreciate a call at home. According to Miller, Roberts never returned any of Miller's calls. Then (according to Miller) Roberts' secretary told Miller that Roberts had just left for vacation, but didn't return the calls and wouldn't be returning the calls because as far as they're concerned the case is closed.
Miller told me that after our interview wrapped up around 5pm, he contacted Hillyard directly by phone. I had specifically requested that nobody show up on Hillyard's doorstep, as I believe that would be an intrusion into Hillyard's privacy and could be hurtful to his family. Miller stated that Hillyard had agreed to allow Miller to come to his home. Miller later told me that he spoke to Hillyard for a few minutes, and that Hillyard had (predictably) claimed that he'd never sent any messages, but that he (Hillyard) and I had "gotten into an argument" on the net in July 1996. Miller said that Hillyard insisted that none of the messages in my archives even came from his computer (despite the fact that he'd admitted that many of them had, back in July 1996), and that I was a psychotic stalker. Miller told me that Hillyard had also claimed that he'd filed suit against NBC and Unsolved Mysteries (I've never found record anywhere of such a suit, or heard of it from anyone other than Hillyard).
Miller says he left Hillyard's home by about 7:45pm EST. By about 8:30pm EST another rash of messages attacking my character or advertising me as a prostitute appeared in several newsgroups.
Hillyard later attacked Hard Copy, claiming they'd "appeared unannounced on (his) doorstep." He also claimed he was suing Hard Copy, and Miller told me that Hillyard had sent them multiple letters threatening legal action. Hillyard now claims there was only one letter sent to them, and that it did not threaten a suit.
- I've done an interview with the MSNBC show The Site that was scheduled to air on September 16, 1997. Their regular programming was pre-empted for several weeks by coverage of Princess Diana's death, then cancelled. According to the folks at the show, though, the segments that had already been filmed will probably be used on the new channel, ZDTV, so the segment may still air at a later date. Again, they contacted me through CyberAngels.
- On April 4, 1997 the CyberAngels contacted me asking if I would speak to Hilary Roberts of Unsolved Mysteries. I appeared on an episode of the show that first aired on May 2, 1997. According to Ms. Roberts, the following Monday Hillyard's wife, Kay, called their production offices threatening to sue because they didn't give the Hillyards "equal time." I can't imagine what the Hillyards would have done if the story was as extensive as was originally planned—they had to cut it short because one of the producers didn't do her research and did not obtain independent verification of Hillyard's criminal record. Hillyard has long claimed that he is suing Unsolved Mysteries, but as of April 1998 I've yet to see evidence of any such suit filed in Georgia or California.
I've turned down interviews with several journalists who obviously wished to concentrate on personalities or do a wholly sensationalist story. I've not sought publicity for myself, and I do not intend to do so in the future, but I do wish to make more people aware of the gaping hole in application of laws to crimes committed on the internet. After the first few interviews I did I realized that, with all the messages on the net in my name, there was no way that I would maintain any degree of anonymity in the matter--that indeed, getting the story out would help fight the lies in those messages. A story from an unnamed woman has far less impact that one with a name and a face, so if my story was to be taken seriously I'd have to come forward and be identified.
I also want to raise the general level of awareness regarding how freely convicted criminals move about in our society. Until now I have never had any reason to deal with the criminal justice system in any way. I was incredibly naïve, thinking that multiply convicted felons would certainly have done significant jail time (Hillyard hasn't, to my knowledge) and wouldn't have high-security government jobs (he did) or be involved with respectable organizations dealing with children (he says he was a cubmaster with the Boy Scouts). Those of us who've lived law-abiding lives simply don't realize how an experienced criminal can work the system and get away with serious crimes, over and over again, without ever experiencing any significant punishment.
At first Jayne Hitchcock and I were the only victims were willing to speak out publicly about cyberstalking. Fortunately others have come forward now and told their stories as well, and there is growing public awareness regarding Internet safety and privacy issues.
In every case so far, the reporters have very little knowledge of the Internet at all, so they frequently mis-state minor facts. They are, at least, making an honest effort to understand the background involved in this issue.