Appeal Denied: Dr. Golb to Serve 2-month Prison Sentence

Raphael Golb, son of Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, Dr. Normal Golb, is flanked by uniformed officers during his trial. With his final appeal ending in the affirmation of his prison sentence, Dr. Golb will begin serving jail time this month. Photo: Steven Hirsch

Raphael Golb, son of Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, Dr. Normal Golb, is flanked by uniformed officers during his trial. With his final appeal ending in the affirmation of his conviction and sentencing, Dr. Golb will begin serving his prison sentence. Photo: Steven Hirsch.

Convicted criminal Dr. Raphael Golb, son of Dr. Norman Golb, the Ludwig Rosenberger Professor in Jewish History and Civilization at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, will begin serving a 2-month sentence resulting from the 2010 New York State Supreme Court conviction and sentencing, and the 2014 re-affirmation and re-sentencing by the NY Court of Appeals of Dr. Golb’s conviction on 19 counts of identity theft and criminal impersonation stemming from his criminal involvement in an academic dispute over his father’s theories about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dr. Golb’s most recent (and final) appeal was denied when, as expected,

a unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, upheld Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward’s sentence, which included three years of probation, for Raphael Golb in People v. Golb, 13595.”

Raphael Golb's case is denied for review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Raphael Golb’s case is denied for review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court of the United States has already declined to hear Dr. Golb’s case.

This bizarre case is a textbook example of what not to do when online, how not to behave as a scholar, and furthermore how not to proceed in defending oneself once caught.

Dr. Golb’s incarceration represents only a modicum of closure to this unfortunate episode in my life, as I was both a victim in this criminal case, as well as one who testified against Dr. Golb (apparently looking rather “cute” that day). It’s especially tragic because even after Dr. Golb was arrested, he could have dispensed with the time and expense of a trial and the appeals process by simply accepting the plea deal he was offered from the beginning: plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts, serve 80 hours of community service, and serve three years probation. Instead, nearly 6 years after his arrest and who knows how many dollars spent defending himself and appealing his convictions, Dr. Golb is headed to prison, has been disbarred, and his name has become synonymous with criminal internet trolling. Meanwhile, while he has repeatedly claimed he was only attempting to help his father in his debate about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Golb’s criminal activity has had exactly the opposite effect, exposing his father’s knowing involvement in his son’s criminal activities.

This is just the latest episode in a sad example of what happens when some scholars attempt to use criminal means to tear down perceived rival scholars and promote their own work. There is no winner in this case, only victims, and one big loser.


1QpHab 10:9

2 Sam 12:12


For a history of this case, click here.

5 Responses

  1. If Simcha Jacobovici had been accused of plagiarism, every scholar on the internet would have run to check if the accusations were true since plagiarism can easily be checked by comparing the published works of the accused plagiarist and the victim, but in this case, no scholar has even looked into the accusations. Golb has shown that scholars don’t even care about plagiarism, if they like the accused scholar. I am not a scholar, and I don’t even understand the scholarly rules of plagiarism, but I know that no scholar has actually looked into these accusations. ( I am not saying his accusations are true because I don’t know what the truth is. No scholars have discussed it on their blogs that I know of.)

    I wonder if you will even let this post go through.

    Kenneth Greifer

  2. Kenneth,

    Your first statement: “I am not a scholar, and I don’t even understand the scholarly rules of plagiarism.”
    This is true.

    Your next words: “but I know that no scholar has actually looked into these accusations.”
    This is NOT true. The reason no action was taken, and the reason Dr. Schiffman has not been accused of plagiarism by anyone other than Dr. Golb is that no plagiarism was committed. If there had been, Dr. Golb went about it the wrong way. But there wasn’t. The only person claiming plagiarism is Dr. Golb (and his aliases).

    The reason that no scholars have discussed it is because the accusation is false. It was checked out, and it is demonstrably false.

    So I refer you back to your first statement: “I am not a scholar, and I don’t even understand the scholarly rules of plagiarism.”

    As for your final parting comment, “I wonder if you will even let this post go through,” why would I not?

    Cheers, bc

  3. Dr. Cargill,

    I believe that his father also claimed that he was plagiarized.

    I am not defending how Raphael Golb behaved, but I truly don’t think two months in Rikers Island is the appropriate sentence for pretending to be other people and damaging reputations. I think jail should be for people who are a threat to the community and who have to be kept away from other people. Terrible things can happen in jail that are far worse punishments than sending fake emails. It would have been better to leave this kind of case to the civil courts, although I doubt has any money to make suing worthwhile.

    Interestingly, Orthodox Jews are not supposed to help put other Jewish people in jail unless they really have to. I am surprised that Dr. Schiffman did not try publicly to keep Golb out of jail because that is a very serious rule they have. He could have talked to the prosecutors to help Golb, even if he doesn’t like him. Maybe he did. I don’t know, but I have not heard him do this publicly.

    I once asked an Orthodox rabbi if I could report a Jewish man for committing a non-violent crime that could get him put into jail, and he said no without any discussion and then hung up on me. There was nothing to even discuss. I think all people should be punished without jail sentences unless absolutely necessary, and I am not even Orthodox. We need a better criminal justice system than one that often ends in rape for men which is seen as a humorous joke by many people. This punishment Golb faces is a life and death issue. He didn’t have to commit the crimes, but our society is making a big mistake in over-punishing him.

    Kenneth Greifer

  4. Again, Kenneth, lots of assumptions here.

    “I believe that his father also claimed that he was plagiarized.”
    We already know that Raphael and Norman were working together.

    “I truly don’t think two months in Rikers Island is the appropriate sentence for pretending to be other people and damaging reputations.”
    That’s not what he was imprisoned for.

    “Terrible things can happen in jail that are far worse punishments than sending fake emails.”
    True. But comparing what happens in jail to what happens outside of jail is a false comparison. Likewise, “sending fake emails” was not what Golb was imprisoned for.

    “Interestingly, Orthodox Jews are not supposed to help put other Jewish people in jail unless they really have to. I am surprised that Dr. Schiffman did not try publicly to keep Golb out of jail because that is a very serious rule they have.”
    How do you know this is not the case?

    “I once asked an Orthodox rabbi if I could report a Jewish man for committing a non-violent crime that could get him put into jail, and he said no without any discussion and then hung up on me.”
    This is purely anecdotal.

    “We need a better criminal justice system than one that often ends in rape for men which is seen as a humorous joke by many people.”
    This is a pretty big assumption. It is also a mischaracterization of Dr. Golb’s crimes. How many people? Some people don’t think all crimes are jokeworthy?

    “This punishment Golb faces is a life and death issue.”
    Do criminals regularly get 2 months in prison for life-and-death crimes?

    “He didn’t have to commit the crimes”
    You’re absolutely correct on this one.

    “our society is making a big mistake in over-punishing him.”
    You have to punish crime. He was offered no jail time and probation. He declined. He was proved to have lied on the stand. He committed multiple crimes. He was sentenced. That sentence was reduced. You can argue that the sentence was unduly harsh (which he did), but the appellate court would (and does) disagree with you.

    Dr. Schiffman committed no crime. I committed no crime. And yet we were targeted for a lengthy period. It would have been a civil matter until Dr. Golb broke a number of laws, and that point it became a criminal matter. He was offered a way out and the lesser punishment you feel he should have had. He refused. So here we are.

    It’s unfortunate, to be sure. I’m not rooting for his demise. All I ever wanted was for it to stop. He refused. Again, so here we are.
    This is a tragedy all around. I certainly didn’t ‘win’ anything. I lost too. We all lost in this. I’ll say it again: there are no winners, only victims, and one big loser.

    Thanx for your comments.
    -bc

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