Replies to Accusations
The following are replies to the accusations Hillyard has directed at me and some of more annoying lies he's spread. I hesitated to even dignify his nonsense with a rebuttal, but I finally decided to do it once here rather than having to reply to them piecemeal in various forums.
Please note that many of his accusations are libelous. I've provided proof that he did make those accusations, publicly and repeatedly, and should I decide to file a civil suit that evidence will be damning. These claims may or may not be on his web site now—I don't bother to read it any more. Hillyard has never provided any specifics or evidence to support his claims. Neither has he filed so much as a single police report, although that would be the first action of anyone who was truly being harassed.
For the most part, I am not going to respond Hillyard's personal attacks—all the information he has about such things in from my own web pages, and anyone who cares about those swipes can go read those pages if they do care about them. The fact that he makes ad hominem attacks is only significant in that it is typical behavior for someone who cannot argue based on logic and attempts to redirect attention with irrelevant nonsense. I have mentioned his claim that I'm "unstable" and have, in fact, volunteered more information about my background—I've been working on a more detailed web page about survivors of childhood abuse and other traumas, depression, and related issues, but until that is published I'll shed a little light on the subject here.
- I'm a hacker?
- And a stalker?
- I've spoken to the press!
- Hillyard has filed suit/is filing suit against me & other parties
- I'm mentally unstable?
- I've defamed/libeled/slandered him and fabricated information against him?
- I'm responsible for calls to him and his family members?
Hillyard originally claimed that I might have hacked into his MindSpring account in order to send myself obscene email in July 1996. That would be a mighty strange thing for me to do, since I didn't know who he was before receiving that email! If, however, I had done so or even attempted to do so, MindSpring's server logs would have shown evidence of the attempt. They don't, as no hacking took place. After seeing that nobody took his accusations seriously, Hillyard admitted that the obscene email was sent from his account—but claimed that it was sent by his son and his daughter's boyfriend.
In March and April 1997, Hillyard accused me of hacking into his web site and "stealing" his checkbook records. I've explained, in detail, what actually happened elsewhere on this site. His own web logs as posted on his web pages proved that I had not hacked into anything, and made him look even sillier because he didn't have the sense to read them properly. He claims I gained access to a "password protected directory" while providing logs that show no password request. If he had any evidence of hacking, or if they even strongly suspected that it might be the case, MindSpring would have cancelled my account, and Hillyard could have had me arrested for criminal trespass under Georgia law. Please note that neither of those things occurred.
I find it interesting that Hillyard has again claimed that someone who is simply viewing pages on his site was "hacking" into it—as evidenced by email he sent to staffers of a British television show after he'd refused an interview with them. Basically, he wants to have a web site, but he's decided that any time someone he doesn't like views it they're guilty of "hacking."
Hillyard has repeatedly claimed that I've stalked him, which is a common delusion held by a certain type of stalker. As of 1/13/98, in fact, he had a web site entitled "I Am Being Stalked And Harassed By Cynthia Armistead, Atlanta Georgia." He's currently making a lot of noise claiming that I'm guilty of criminal defamation because of one the sections of this site is called "Why I'm sure Richard Hillyard is the stalker" He makes repeated references to various definitions of stalking, so he obviously knows what they are. Despite the fact that he has never presented any evidence of having been stalked (or even harassed), by me or anyone else, he turns around and calls me a stalker. The reasons he gives for this accusation include:
- I have "gotten" his phone number and address. Huh. That means that every telemarketer who has ever called me is a stalker. And the phone company—well, they might as well just turn themselves in right now! Hillyard has a published phone number and his street address is available in several of the people directories on the web. He has also published that information himself, on his own web pages! If he has a problem with people knowing where he lives and what his phone number is, he needs to step back and reasses his own actions in making that information public. Doing so, then harassing various people (including, but not limited to, myself), is doubly foolish.
- He claims I've called his house repeatedly. Not only have I never so much as dialed his number, I've never even asked anyone else to do so! His number is listed. His name isn't a common one. He has enjoyed much notoriety for his activities, though. I do not doubt that someone has called him—but I haven't done so. Had I called him as many times as he claims, there would have at some time been 1) calls the phone company could trace to some number associated with me (I doubt they've even been requested to put a trace on his line); or at least 2) police reports filed with my name mentioned as the culprit. On one of his web pages he said I'd been calling him on a cell phone and that he was able to records of those calls—but it seems odd that he never gave those records to his lawyer to present to the prosecutor (which would likely have kept the case from even going to trial), and he never reported the calls to the police. You see, BellSouth will not take a harassing phone calls complaint unless the customer gives them the number of the police report proving that they've already spoken with the police. They will then release the trace records to the police—not to the customer or his lawyer. If the trace records show that harassing phone calls are being made, the police have the customer swear out a complaint and get a warrant for the caller's arrest. If the trace shows a pay phone, cell phone, or untraceable call, the police may or may not choose to tell the customers of the results, since no action can be taken. If Hillyard's claims had the least shred of credibility, I would have been arrested. That hasn't happened, which proves that he is lying.
- He says I've driven by his house twice, and that he has witnesses who'll attest to that and that the tag number on the vehicles were traced to me. Interesting. He cannot, of course, give specific dates, describe the vehicle(s) or give the tag number(s), nor did he report those supposed incidents to the police. I know approximately where he lives, but I haven't gone there. Had I been seen driving by simply to check him out, it would either fit or at least edge into the state of Georgia's legal definition of stalking, and I would have been arrested had he been able to make any credible report to the police. He hasn't, because I didn't drive by his house—just another accusation he made up out of whole cloth.
- He says I've called his church and complained to them about him. I'm still waiting to find out the date I supposedly called and who I supposedly spoke to, and see phone company records verifying that such a call was ever made. It wasn't—I have no reason to contact his church and have not done so.
- I "contacted and harassed" his former employer, the CDC, and "made" them fire him. Actually, I and others contacted them to report abuse of their computer system. It was his decision to use their network maliciously. Reporting the misuse of government property is not stalking, and in fact had the FBI chosen to prosecute every non-work-related message Hillyard sent out of the CDC's internet gateway could have been considered a separate felony count. The fact that his misuse of the network triggered an investigation that revealed his dishonesty in concealing his criminal background, and that he was fired for that dishonesty, is simply a pleasant side effect of stopping the misuse of the CDC system. Hillyard chose to commit the crimes for which he was convicted, and he chose to lie about those convictions when seeking employment. I welcome any explanation of how I made that happen. Hillyard claims to have a notarized statement from the CDC saying that any posts made from their system did not come from him, but he cannot present that statment—and Hillyard's abuse of the CDC internet gateway was confirmed in testimony presented by his former boss, Jim Seligman, at the July 1997 trial. And, according to Mr. Seligman, neither he nor anyone else feels that I "harassed" anyone—they were very grateful to be informed of the problem.
- He says I "contacted and harassed" his current employer, Advanced Visual Systems (or the company that was his employer in December 1996/January 1997). I did contact them, to report that someone was using their internet gateway to flood atl.general and to issue forged cancellations. Several other people also reported the abuse. I haven't heard anything back from them about the inappropriate use of their gateway, abuse, but it did stop, which was the desired result. I'd contact any company whose computer systems were being used in that manner by anyone, and cannot see how that constitutes stalking of anyone. As for harassing them? I'll be happy to answer any such claims from the people I supposedly harassed when provided with the dates and details as to who and how I supposedly harassed them. Hillyard cannot provide such information, as he's lying again.
- Contacted the Boy Scouts. I spoke to the regional director of the Boy Scouts of America after an acquaintance who is an Eagle Scout learned that Hillyard was or claimed to be a Cubmaster. The director, Tim Cooper, requested a meeting and I was happy to oblige. Based on the information I gave Cooper, the BSA initiated its own background check, learning that Hillyard had lied to conceal his criminal background when he applied to be an adult volunteer with the Scouts. Cooper says he had a meeting with Hillyard, removed him from any association with Scouting, and informed him that he was not to claim any affiliation with the BSA. Hillyard claims he is still unofficially involved with them. I don't know if he is or not, but I respect the BSA and would happily meet with their people again if they so requested. Again, this isn't stalking—they wanted to talk to me.
- Had a friend email his child telling the boy to kill him. Not only have I never done any such thing, I've specifically asked that people not contact his wife or children. Another MindSpring user (the one whose name was used in the first four prostitution ads, and one of the people whose posts Hillyard repeatedly forge-cancelled) admitted that he had sent email to one of Hillyard's sons, and later said that he regretted it. As Hillyard had that email, he knew it didn't come from me—and I'm sure he knew of the public post from the person who did send it, as he has apparently been receiving copies of everything that goes on in the MindSpring newsgroups from various friends. (Later he said he'd had access to MindSpring directly for over a year through his employer.)
- Posted usenet messages saying that Hillyard is gay, that Hillyard was able to have traced back to me. And where are the records of that trace? They don't exist, which is why they haven't been presented. I have never posted any such messages about anyone. I carry out my activities on the net in my own name and in full public view. I have never made any anonymous posts about anyone, and have no intention of doing so. I found a message from the same fellow who sent email to Hillyard's son that was probably a pointer to ads posted in Hillyard's name, and a post I made responding to it saying I was afraid I'd be blamed for any such posts. Again, Hillyard says he was getting copies of anything by me or about him—so he knew that I wasn't the person who made any posts, and that I did not encourage anyone else to do so. In any case, why would someone who repeatedly used the .sig line "Little Dicky Workman's Boyfriend" and made comments like "we had a lovers spat and not you don't blow me anymore" have any objection to being called gay? (For what it's worth, I would consider calling Hillyard gay an insult to the entire queer community.)
- Posted usenet messages saying that Hillyard was a pedophile. In August 1996 I replied to someone else's posts that had the subject line "PEDOPHILE SODOMITES; Hillyard & Company on the next Geraldo" but I didn't assign the subject line, nor did I ever even see the original post (and, in fact, my post was a request for a copy of it—which was quoted in a threat he then emailed to me). He also says he cancelled posts in which someone called him a pedophile, and that was why MindSpring cancelled his account. There's a little chronological confusion, there, though—the word "pedophile" never appeared in anything until the August 16 thread in atl.general. In July 1997 Hillyard canceled many posts to mindspring.discussion from people who didn't agree with him, but in most cases the originator reposted the messages, and none of them contained the word "pedophile." Beginning 7/13/96, I have copies of cancellation messages Hillyard forged as email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and me, among others—and not one of the original messages said the first word about Hillyard being a pedophile.
I think that at some time there may have been some speculation in MindSpring's newsgroups as to why Hillyard goes to such lengths to get access to other people's children—deliberately concealing his criminal background and so on—especially in light of the fact that he (or Dick Coward, who I believe, but cannot absolutely prove to be, Hillyard) sent sexually explicit email to a 5-year-old child, knowing full well that she was such a young child. It is worth noting that people who initiate sexually explicit communications with children are called "pedophiles." One of the first insults Hillyard has thrown at anyone who disagrees with him in newsgroups is "pedophile sodomite" (another is "known faggot and child molestor") which is probably why someone put that phrase in the subject line of the post to atl.general. One has to wonder why that phrase is the first that comes to him—sort of a "methinks he protests too much" thing. So while I do not recall accusing Hillyard of pedophilia in the past, I do believe he has certainly displayed behavior that gives one cause for suspicion.
- "Contacted organizations I have never been affiliated with for no reason." Goodness, the man does have memory problems, doesn't he? He seem to have forgotten the web page he published in January 1997 claiming affiliation with many highly respectable organizations (while attacking me with obscene language on the same page). Various people did contact some of those organizations and learned that he was not associated with them and they most emphatically did not want him to claim affiliation with him. This isn't stalking, either.
- Told people of his criminal record. Wow—if that's stalking, do you think the sheriff's offices here in Georgia keeping those sex-offender registries are going to be arrested for stalking? If Hillyard has a problem with people knowing that he is a multiply convicted felon he should have avoided the entire issue by not committing burglary, kidnapping, credit card fraud, theft and other crimes.
- Repeatedly visited his web site. Hillyard (or someone using his and his family members' names) has posted messages stating that they keep an eye on my own web site—so if his definition were used, they would have admitted that they were stalking me. Using repeated visits to any web site, though, as a definition of stalking is simply too silly to consider.
- Published his family's names and email address. Actually, I've only published the names and email addresses of those family members who have either posted messages/web pages attacking me, or whose names have been used in messages attacking me. Had my family members posted messages attacking Hillyard, I wouldn't be surprised to see their names and email addresses listed by him. That hasn't happened. Publication of information about those who aren't involved would be unethical, so there is no information anywhere on my site about Hillyard's other family members.
Hillyard/Dick Coward has said that I contacted an Associated Press reporter, NBC, Unsolved Mysteries, and other members of the press trying to ruin his name. He's on very shaky ground, here, as members of the press have contacted me, and I have granted interviews to some of them. "The press" isn't something one contacts with stories like this—they come to you if they're interested.
Apparently Hillyard has not been approached by the press wanting to tell his story. Maybe he feels miffed by the lack of attention. For all I know he may have tried to get journalists to do stories from his point of view, but there certainly haven't been any such stories printed in any mainstream publication or aired on television or newspaper anywhere that I've heard of.
And finally, the claim that
On the internet, anyone who goes around saying "I'll sue!" is regarded as an absolute loser who is utterly out of touch with reality. The person obviously cannot deal with whatever argument they've gotten themselves into, and rather than do so they make empty threats. Hillyard is one of those losers.
Hillyard first claimed to be filing suit on July 14 and July 15, 1996 in response to public exposure of the obscene email he had sent to my account and his attempts to stop discussion of his actions by forge-cancelling the newsgroup posts of anyone who did not agree with him. After MindSpring cancelled his account, Hillyard sent email to MindSpring CEO Mike McQuary threatening legal action against me and MindSpring. At one point he said that if my actions (while using their service) resulted in the loss of his job he'd have no choice but to sue me and MindSpring.
In August 1996 Hillyard again threatened legal action against MindSpring unless they canceled my account, claiming I'd been harassing him. I hadn't, so they didn't. He also changed the subject line of a thread to which he posted from "Re: PEDOPHILE SODOMITES; Hillyard & Company on the next Geraldo" to "Re: PEDOPHILE SODOMITES; Turner & Company - Lost Business in Slander Suit" to imply that he was suing Richard Turner (the other MindSpring user attacked with pornographic posts forged as if they came from him).
In September, 1996 Hillyard placed a notice in the .plan file of his inetnow.net account saying that he would share the million dollar proceeds of a lawsuit against me, MindSpring and Richard Turner if they would send all copies of posts, web pages or email from me or the other user to Hillyard. He said he was suing us for slander. I posted a message to atl.general asking Hillyard when I'd receive legal notice of this lawsuit, and he removed the nonsense from his .plan file.
On December 13, 1996 someone posted a message to atl.general using the name "Linda Davis" and offering to pay for any "derogatory information" about me. (S)he said the information was to be used in a "trial and lawsuit." "Linda Davis" quickly disappeared after being publicly ridiculed and addressed as Hillyard by many newsgroup regulars.
On May 5, 1997 Hillyard's wife called the production offices of Unsolved Mysteries threatening to sue them for not giving them "equal time" on their show. (The producer called me after the call.)
On July 17, 18 and 19, 1997 Hillyard (or someone who claimed to be his daughter, Christy) posted messages to atl.general claiming that he was filing suit against me, MindSpring Enterprises, Unsolved Mysteries, and NBC. He said much the same again in August, as did someone who claimed to be his wife and one of his children. Indeed, he or someone claiming to be his wife he said "She has crossed the line, and I personally am going to see that she has her own day as a defendant in court."
On October 28, 1997 Hillyard posted yet another message to atl.general claiming he had met with his attorney that morning and is suing me, Unsolved Mysteries, NBC, and Hard Copy. He said he'd just gotten the tape of the Unsolved Mysteries episode—after previously claiming he'd had it since it aired.
In November 1997 Hillyard claimed, in a fax sent to Illuminations (a UK television production company) that he was filing suit against me. He made the same claim in email sent to them on November 24, 1997, in which he also accused them of "hacking" his web site. When I spoke with Edward Miller of Hard Copy on November 26, 1997, Miller told me that Hillyard had sent multiple letters to Hard Copy threatening legal action against them, and claiming that he'd already filed suit against me and other parties.
I'm told that Hillyard's web site claims that in June 1998, he won "significant damages" in a civil suit (presumably one related to this case), but that as of June 1999 none of the money had been collected because "parties" (the defendant or defendants?) filed for bankruptcy. If that is the case, why doesn't he name the defendant, or the court in which the suit was filed, or at least give more specific dates?
I also have an email that was forwarded to me by its original recipient. It certainly appears to be from Hillyard—it was sent from his current ISP, total-web.net, using an email address of email@example.com. In the body of the email it says it's from Kay Hillyard (I honestly doubt that part), and claims that Hillyard "won a 6 figure judgement" when he "went through the court case with the wacko woman." Since the email quotes a message from the recipient in which she was referring people to my web site, the implication is that I'm the "wacko woman" from whom Hillyard won a judgement—which isn't true. I've received other reports from people saying that Hillyard has frequently made similar claims on various web-based discussion boards. Yes, that's libel.
I'm not aware of any communication from any lawyer or in regard to any legal action sent to MindSpring, Unsolved Mysteries, NBC or the other MindSpring user Hillyard claimed to be suing. I certainly haven't received any such communications. His threats of legal action are, therefore, increasingly ludicrous. If, however, he has all this "evidence" he claims to have that I have stalked/harassed him, like telephone trace records, traced forged posts, witnesses who say I've driven by his house—I will be happy to answer his charges in court. Those would, however, be criminal charges, and if he had that evidence he would have already taken it to the police and gotten a warrant for my arrest (he couldn't even get telephone company trace records without having filed a police report—which he hasn't done). The fact that he has not contacted the police, and therefore he has filed no police reports and he has gotten no warrants for my arrest proves that he is, again, lying—no matter whose name he's using when he makes those claims.
Hillyard/Dick Coward previously referred to me as a "basket case." His reasoning here is that I've stated (several times, quite openly) that I was sexually abused as a child; that I've been treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); that I attempted suicide in 1988; that I've been married three times; and that I dropped out of college in order to get married. Oh yes—he also claims that being willing to reword web pages for greater clarity, or to correct mistakes, is a sign of instability (hmm—where I come from, that's called "being responsible.") He even made statements to the effect that moving due to the threats we received is an additional sign of "instability," and claiming that there's no evidence we've ever been stalked.
While dropping out of college—and giving up a full scholarship to do so—was certainly a major mistake, and if I had it to do again I certainly wouldn't have married anyone at the tender age of 18, it's hardly evidence of "mental instability" (and it was a very long time ago). Other marriages, other mistakes—but I've explained all that myself, having volunteered all the above information on my web pages long before I'd ever heard of Hillyard.
A recent suicide attempt would, certainly, be cause for concern. One in 1988, though, isn't exactly evidence that I am, today, suicidal (I'm not). While I'll always be a survivor of sexual abuse, it isn't something that I chose, and it isn't something that defines or controls me—and it isn't something I'll hide. I'm no more ashamed of my mental health history than I am of having had a C-section because my daughter presented as a breech birth—it's simply a fact, neither positive or negative. I speak openly of it as an important part of my history and in hopes that my experiences may benefit someone else.
Let's just stick to "defame" since he seems to have settled on that label as his favorite. First, please check the definitions of defame, as well as libel and slander. They boil down to several points—first, one must be spreading false information. Second, the defamer must know that the information is false. Third, the defamer must be spreading the information with malicious intent.
So—have I published false information? As soon as I learned of an error in information I was given about Hillyard's attorney, I corrected it. Hillyard turned around and accused me of "covering up." Did he want the information presented accurately, or not? I've been given no credible information that leads me to doubt anything else on my site, although I've taken a slightly harsher look at the wording of some information I received (like the statement regarding Hillyard's attorney) secondhand. I've always identified my sources, and the fact that information is secondhand, so the reader would know how to weight what he is reading.
Hillyard claims I've misquoted some testimony from his trial, but until I'm provided with a certified copy of the transcript I don't know that. I trust my sources far more than I do Hillyard. Even if he were to present what he claimed was a transcription, I wouldn't trust it—perhaps a high quality scan of a certified copy, but with his record I doubt it. He has already lied and twisted the truth yet again in his acccount of what happened, claiming that no harassing communications were ever sent from the CDC—despite the fact that I've provided copies of a great many posts, some of them definitely his, which have been proven to be posted from inside the CDC.
Anyway, if Hillyard wants to have a certified copy of that transcript sent to me, he's welcome to do so. I'll read it and correct anything I've mis-stated, just as I corrected the information about his attorney. If he wishes to point out any other specific information he disputes, I'll check it.
I've already made a clear offer to change anything that isn't correct as soon as I'm notified of the error, and given proof that my information is wrong when necessary. I'm afraid it isn't possible to simply trust Hillyard's assertions that something is true--please see the details above regarding his other unfounded accusations, and his repeated lies about his criminal background as well as his claim to a degree he does not (according to one source) possess, and affiliations that simply do not exist. These are proven lies on his part—not something that I'm simply saying I doubt. The information I've provided gives anyone interested the ability to verify the information—you don't have to take my word for it.
So—I've not published anything I know to be false, and I've offered to correct any mistakes—how can I possibly be defaming Hillyard?
Oh yeah—he claims that publication of his former address and telephone numbers is defamation, and an invasion of his privacy. It isn't private information, so it can't be an invasion of his privacy—he has personally published that information, and it can be found in many public sources. They are, according to him, his true address and phone numbers at the time the case started—so publication of them cannot be defamation, because it isn't false. This goes back to his accusations that I'm stalking him and his family. He has also said that the fact that people who have contacted him have mentioned me proves that publication of the information is defamation, but I'm afraid that doesn't follow. I haven't harassed him, I haven't knowingly presented any false information that would lead anyone else to harass him, and I've never requested that anyone else harass him or his family. Actually, at the moment, I have what I'm told are his current home address and phone number, but because until I verify that information from publicly available sources, I won't publish them. The same source claims that Hillyard and his wife Kay Ball Hillyard are now divorced, so there's also a question of whether that's still his residence or whether that's where his (ex?) wife lives.
I've never dialed any of Hillyard's phone numbers. I've never suggested that anyone else do so, even obliquely. Unlike Dick Coward, I've never made any posts in his name, in mine, or in any other encouraging anyone to harass him. However, Hillyard has been involved in legal cases involving people in the adult entertainment industry in the metro Atlanta area, and on one of his other web sites he claimed that another person or persons with whom he was in conflict repeatedly made flyers and handed them out in his neighborhood identifying him as a felon and giving out his personal information. After that, how could he possibly claim that I'm responsible for any calls he receives? If he wants to be free of trouble, he should never have gotten involved in any criminal activity. I feel sorry for his family, as they certainly don't deserve to suffer for his wrongdoing—but apparently they choose to continue to associate with him.