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Michael Schwern arrest

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TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Michael Schwern, prominent Perl developer and keynote speaker at the National Center for Women & Information Technology's 2013 summit, was arrested in Portland, Oregon on domestic violence charges -- specifically, harassment and strangulation. Schwern had previously made somewhat of a name for himself giving public talks about diversity.

Two feminist organizations issued public repudiations of Schwern, the Ada Initiative and Geek Feminism. Stumptown Syndicate, which runs various geek events in Portland, barred him from their events until further notice.

Multnomah County eventually dropped the charges against Schwern; Schwern's attorney, Bear Wilner-Nugent, published a press release claiming that Schwern had been "exonerated". This claim was patently false, as exoneration can only occur after a person has been convicted of a crime. Schwern was neither tried nor convicted. In domestic violence cases, it's extremely common for the state to decline to prosecute, and this has little bearing on the truth of the accusations.

Wilner-Nugent subsequently took to twitter and threatened several people with defamation lawsuits for their statements about Schwern's arrest (example: [1] [2]). He deleted most of these tweets shortly thereafter, claiming "they had been read and thus done their job".

Civil suit

On January 27th, 2014, Schwern filed a civil suit (PDF link), requesting $30M in damages based on his claimed loss of reputation, reduction in potential earnings, and "severe emotional distress" from his arrest being publicly known.

Documents from this case, including one which contains explicit detail of the alleged assault (PDF link, also trigger warning for sexual assault) are freely available online.

In April 2014, Noirin Plunkett, Schwern's ex, first tweeted publicly about the civil case, mentioning that she is seeking donations toward her legal expenses.

Related

In April 2014, Codementor (a website where you can pay expert programmers for mentoring) posted an interview with Schwern introducing him with:

Code Mentor Michael G Schwern doesn’t like to take “NO” for an answer.

In the interview, which was presumably intended to make people want to pay Schwern for mentoring, he responds to a question about why he likes Perl with:

It is the language that will never tell you “no”. It will tell you “probably not” or “you don’t want to do that” but there will always be a way to do what you need to do, whether it’s a good idea or not.

See Also

Coverage of the case in Newsweek's "Today in Tabs" feature.

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