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Michael Schwern arrest

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TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains 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 Edit

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 they are seeking donations toward their legal expenses.

See Also Edit

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

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