Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, has been sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation after being found guilty on September 30, 2010 of 2 felony and 28 misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.
The charges stem from a bizarre case where Dr. Golb used an army of internet aliases to falsely charge his father’s perceived rival, NYU Judaic Studies professor Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, with plagiarism, and then criminally impersonated Dr. Schiffman by opening an email account in Schiffman’s name, emailing Schiffman’s students and colleagues, and “admitting” to the “plagiarism” on Schiffman’s behalf.
Before the trial, Golb turned down a plea deal where he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, and received two years probation. With guilty verdicts including two felony counts, Dr. Golb not only faces jail time and 5 years probation, but also faces the additional consequence of being disbarred from the New York Bar Association.
•David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 18)
•David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 19)
•Jennifer Peltz / AP (Nov. 18)
•Melissa Grace / NY Daily News (Nov. 18)
•Paige Chapman / Chronicle of Higher Education (Nov. 18)
•John Eligon / NY Times (Nov. 18)
For the record, I’ll make the following statement:
“I am satisfied with the verdict and the sentence in the case of the People of New York vs. Raphael Golb. The sentence fits the crime. During the trial, Dr. Golb showed no remorse, never apologized for his actions, believed what he did wasn’t wrong, and stated flatly that he’d do it again. The disingenuous apology he did finally offer epitomized his defiance:
“I’m sorry for all the wounding of feelings that my e-mail antics have caused…Before this case, I did not know that satirical hoaxes of the sort were treated as crimes in the United States of America.”
He abused the protected speech afforded him by the criminal trial process to attack his victims further, escalating his absurd and false accusations against his victims with the knowledge he could not be sued in civil court. He knew he was guilty, but decided to take as many people as he could down with him. He misused the criminal proceedings against him in attempt to put a leading scholar in the field and a good man, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, on trial for something he did not do. Because Dr. Golb wasted the people of New York’s time and money in a trial he used as little more than a soapbox for his father’s dismissed scholarly views and a weapon to attack his victims further, I believe the sentence is appropriate.
I am thankful to Assistant District Attorney Bandler and his staff for their hard work in this case. I am thankful to Judge Berkman, who presided over a fair and impartial courtroom. I am pleased that the criminal justice system worked, and that justice was ultimately done. Most of all, I am thankful to my UCLA colleagues and especially NELC Department Chairs, Dr. William Schniedewind and Dr. Elizabeth Carter, and Humanities Division Dean, Dr. Tim Stowell, for their support throughout this entire ordeal. I am also grateful for my wife, Roslyn, and daughter, Talitha, for the love and support they’ve shown me throughout this case.
Please do not mistake my reaction to the verdict and sentence in this case as a happy one. I am not happy about this entire ordeal. No one wins in a situation like this. This is nothing but a tragedy, where academic pride and malice were unleashed in a well-coordinated effort on the internet with the deliberate intent of harming the reputations of other scholars.
If there is one lesson to be learned from this case, it is that there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet. Scholars must be willing to stand behind any statements they make in their own name or else not make them at all. While anonymity has been used in the past to make unpopular and dissenting speech, and while this right of free speech should be protected under the law, what Dr. Golb did – using anonymity as a weapon to attack good scholars via criminal impersonation, forgery, identity theft, and for aggravated harassment against others – is shameful. It is a violation of the law and dishonors the memories of those who have fought and died for the freedom we call “free speech.”
It is a sad reality that Raphael Golb set out in an attempt to rewrite the legacy of his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. But, because he employed deceitful, unprofessional, and illegal methods to do so, he has ultimately tarnished his father’s legacy perhaps beyond repair. And, because evidence from the trial proceedings demonstrated that Dr. Norman Golb not only knew about, but appears to have participated in some of his son’s scorched earth campaign of defamation against other scholars, perhaps this disgraced legacy is not wholly unwarranted. This is perhaps the worst sentence of all.
I am satisfied with the outcome. I have moved on. However, because Dr. Golb has vowed to appeal, and thereby prolong this case, I unfortunately believe this is not the end, but rather only the latest, never-ending chapter in the continued legacy of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.
Filed under: anonymity, crime, dead sea scrolls, qumran, unprofessionalism Tagged: | convicted, criminal, guilty, identity theft, jail, lawrence schiffman, liar, norman golb, oriental institute, prison, probation, raphael golb, reaction, robert cargill, sentence, sentencing, tim stowell, unauthorized use of a computer, university of chicago, william schniedewind