What I've Done In Response To The Harassment
- Ignored him
The first I knew of Hillyard was a message he posted to mindspring.local.atlanta* saying he "despised" me. I ignored him.
- Told him to stop
After he started sending me abusive email. I sent him one email telling him to stop or I'd report it to his ISP as harassment. He didn't stop.
- Complained to his ISPs
Hillyard was using his account at MindSpring (which was also my ISP at that time) to send the harassing email, so I complained to them. Since then he's had accounts with multiple ISPs and OSPs, and I've complained to each when he has abused their services to harass us.
- Complained publicly
Because MindSpring did not move quickly to cut off Hillyard's net access, and because he continued to send obscene email to me and to Katie, I posted a message in mindspring.discussion.* Public messages about problems often get a quicker response from MindSpring than private email and phone calls—I know all too well, as I'm a former MindSpring employee. The post was intended to spur MindSpring to a quicker response and to warn Hillyard that he had chosen the wrong target. I also wanted to know if he was harassing anyone else. MindSpring CEO Mike McQuary later commented (publicly) that other users had also complained about Hillyard. A week later they finally canceled his account. After I received threatening email from Hillyard, I posted the threats to atl.general to warn others of his tendencies.
- Told the truth
Every time I've received email from someone responding to the forged posts or IRC impersonations, I've replied with a form letter explaining the situation. I took down my original website because of the traffic his forgeries generated, and replaced it with a simple message explaining why I did so. I have named him as the individual proven to be behind much of the harassment, and believed to be behind the rest. Finally, finding that he isn't going to go away and few people realize the extent of this nightmare, I published this website with all the details of the story.
- Monitored his internet activity
Because the forged posts continued to appear sporadically, I monitored certain newsgroups and any activity by Hillyard in an attempt to catch them quickly when they do appear. I have, therefore, learned that Hillyard has a pattern of forging posts, cancelling the messages, and launching personal attacks full of obscenity whenever people disagree with him.
- Canceled forged posts
I have canceled posts forged in my name or those posted anonymously that refer to me as a prostitute or someone seeking sexual contact. Those are the only messages I have ever canceled other than a few of my own (when I hit send too soon, in most bcases), and they are the only times I have ever posted in any name other than my own.
- Complained to his employers
Hillyard used the internet gateway at the CDC, where he worked, to attack me and MindSpring. I and others sent complaints to their sysadmins without effect. Since the CDC's sysadmins didn't respond to complaints, I used other resources to learn who Hillyard's supervisor was and contacted him by phone to protest the use of the CDC's internet gateway to harass me.
I learned that Hillyard had gone to work for Advanced Visual Systems after he issued forged cancellation messages using their internet gateway. Again, I and others complained to their system administrators about the abuse of the internet gateway.
- Filed police reports
When I initially contacted the police, they said they couldn't do anything about messages forged on the Internet. After I received threats they finally took a police report, and then I filed additional police reports after I began receiving harassing phone calls. Those complaints led to warrants issued by Dekalb County, Georgia for simple assault (later changed to stalking) and harassing phone calls, leading to two arrests.
- Researched his criminal record
After learning that Hillyard had a criminal background, I did some research and learned that he has past felony convictions for burglary, kidnapping, theft by taking, theft by receiving stolen property, filing a false police report, and credit card fraud.
- Spoken to the Boy Scouts of America
Because Hillyard was a Cubmaster for a Boy Scout troop, a friend who happens to be an Eagle Scout contacted the BSA's regional offices. They asked if I'd speak to them, and I agreed. After I gave them the information I had about Hillyard, they did their own background investigation and removed him from his position as an adult volunteer, because he had again lied to conceal his criminal record.
- Changed our phone number
I've lost count of the number of times I've had to change our phone number. It was already unlisted and unpublished, and I have not yet found out how he has managed to obtain it repeatedly.
- Moved three times
Because of the threats we've received, Katie and I moved three times in 1996 to 1997.
- Protected my family
I've learned to use a pistol and now have a concealed carry permit. We have other security measures in place, but I do not think it wise to discuss all of them here.
- Educated Katie
I have had to give my daughter Katie, who was only five years old when this nastiness began, more detailed instructions regarding response to "bad guys" than any child should have to worry about—but I had to do as much as reasonably possible to protect her.
- Spoken to the press
While I haven't sought out attention from the media, I have granted interviews to some of the reporters who have requested them. Most of those reporters had contacted the CyberAngels or WHOA for information about cyberstalking and internet crimes, and learned of our situation through that organization.
What I Haven't Done
- I have not encouraged his behavior.
- I have not taken the offensive.
- I have not sought contact with him or his family via the internet, telephone, or any other means.
- I have never harassed him.
- I have not encouraged others to harass him or his family.
- I have neither lied nor exaggerated anything in relating this story.
- I have made no accusations without cause.
- I have made no threats.
What I Will Not Do
- I will not back down or run away.
- I will not be quiet about what has happened.
- I will not allow preventable harm to come to my or my family.
- I will not, despite many who have encouraged me to do so, use his own reprehensible tactics against him.
*I do not provide direct links to newsgroups in the mindspring.* hierarchy, as they are only accessible to MindSpring's customers. I'm not at all sure that those groups exist now, as I moved on to another ISP long ago.