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.

Hurt Puppy is Actually a Jedi

Hurt Puppy uses Jedi mind tricks to manipulate the criminal justice system. "These aren't the verdicts you're looking for."


hurt puppy



“The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies” (and other highlights from Raphael Golb’s appeal)

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

As I was perusing Dr. Raphael Golb’s appeal of the 31 guilty verdicts against him in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb (in case you missed it, Dr. Golb was found guilty of 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer), I stumbled across this interesting claim on pages 69-70:

‘”And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that “the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he
dies.”‘ (Appeal of guilty verdict in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb, § Argument, IV, A)

I chuckled. I did so because I specifically remember this very issue coming up during my testimony when Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, cross-examined me. Before we examine whether or not the above statement is true, here is the transcript of the exchange from pages 763-768 of the corrected court transcripts of my cross-examination by Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby:

Q (from Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby to Dr. Robert Cargill):  Earlier on cross-examination, Dr. Cargill, I made reference to a paper that you had prepared related to this case and your experiences. Do you recall this?
A (Dr. Robert Cargill to Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby):  This is the paper to which you referred in November?
Q.  Yes.
A.  Yes, I think you mentioned that paper earlier.
Q. Is it fair to say that that was entitled “Scholars Behaving Badly?” It’s got a longer title to it but that’s part of it?
A.  That’s the principle portion before the colon title, yes.
Q.  And this was an exclusive to Archaeology magazine?
A.  I’ve never published in Archaeology magazine.
Q.  I’m sorry? Dr. Cargill, just take a look at the document marked page one, scan it silently to yourself if you please, and after you’ve satisfied yourself and you know what it is.
A.  (The witness complied.)
Q. What do you recognize that to be, sir?
A.  This is a document that I wrote for consideration of publication for Archaeology magazine?
Q.  So you sent it to Archaeology magazine for publication; is that correct?
A.  I was working with an editor there.
Q.  And did they publish it?
A.  No, sir.
Q.  Could you hand it back, please?
COURT CLERK:  And that is marked as?
MR. KUBY:  H-1.
Q.  And with respect to this article, you’ve delivered variations of this article in the form of a lecture; is that correct?
A.  I have not delivered variations. I’ve delivered one redacted variation of that article, the one that we’ve already described at SBL.
Q.  And this article, you wrote this article, right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Did you end the article by saying, “Unfortunately the words of Shrine of the Book Curator, Magen Broshi, still appear to echo true today.” Quote “When will be we free of Golb? When he dies.” Close quote. You wrote that?
A.  I’m sorry?
Q.  You wrote that?
A.  Magen Broshi wrote that.
Q.  You were quoting Magen Broshi?
A.  In the initial draft, in the first draft of this article, I had a lot of things, and things that we ended up redacting out of the article thinking the article is too long.
Q.  But in the Society for Biblical Literature lecture that you gave on November 23rd, you included that portion in the speech that you gave, did you not?
A.  I do not recall.
Q.  You do not recall?
A.  Including that portion.
Q.  Well, we’ll hold that for now. Magen Broshi – you identified him in this article as the Shrine of the Book Curator, correct?
A.  I believe so.
Q.  And what is the Shrine of the Book?
A.  The Shrine of the Book is a building that contains many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s a part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Q.  So it’s an important institution in your area of work?
A.  In my area of work, yes, it’s an important place.
Q.  And you were aware, were you not, that in an interview with the newspaper Ha’aretz, Magen Broshi said, “When will we be free of Golb? When he dies.”?
A.  I read that quote in Dr. Golb’s book. That’s when I learned of that quote.
Q.  And you saw fit to quote it in your papers, correct?
A.  No, I did not. I saw fit to include it in the original draft of the paper, which was later redacted from the paper. No one every publicly saw that.
Q.  Pardon me?
A.  No one ever publicly saw that.
Q.  I’m not asking you that question, you wrote those words, correct?
A.  I quoted Dr. Broshi in the early draft of a document that I wrote.
Q.  And when you say you included it in your paper, that is the portion that you had said, simply to quote, “Unfortunately Broshi’s words are still true,” you mean by that it’s unfortunate that you wouldn’t be rid Norman Golb sooner than his death?
A.  No, sir, that’s not what I meant.
Q.  Do you know how old Norman Golb is?
A.  I do not.
Q.  Do you have any idea?
A.  I would have to speculate.
Q.  Any notion of how long you have to wait to be free of him?
(District Attorney) MR. BANDLER: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q.  You also wrote, did you not, that Norman Golb will, quote, “fight his litigious losing battle until the bitter end?”
A.  I’m sorry, are you quoting from a draft of a manuscript I wrote?
Q.  I am asking you if you wrote the following words?
A.  I don’t recall. I mean, we would have to see if it’s in a draft of a manuscript that was never published.
Q. Did you ever deliver those words to the Society of Biblical Literature on November 23rd?
A.  I don’t recall.
Q.  You don’t recall. Is this the kind of thing you would remember if you had done it?
A.  No.
Q. Because it’s so commonplace to attack Norman Golb, it just doesn’t ring a bell anymore?
THE COURT: That’s an extraordinarily large…  I will direct the jury to disregard it and the witness not to answer it.

In the above exchange, we find Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, doing his job: attempting to impugn my credibility to the jury. But it quickly became obvious to the judge and the jury that Mr. Kuby (or Dr. Golb, who many suspect did much of the “research” for his own defense) made a mistake. The defense mistakenly thought that I had read the draft article I had submitted to Archaeology as my 2009 SBL paper. They obviously had not attended the lecture or heard it, but simply assumed that I had read the draft article to the SBL session. At one point, they even bluffed and asked me if I wanted to hear a CD audio recording of the paper:

Q.  Now you lecture from time to time as well, is that correct?
A.  I do.
Q.  And one of the lectures that you gave was on November 23rd of last year, correct?
A.  Yes, sir.
Q.  The Society Biblical Literature is that where it took place?
A.  It was either ASOR or SBL, they meet together.
Q.  And you have sort of turned your experience with this case into a academic paper, haven’t you, if that’s an unfair characterization, please correct me.
A.  Yes, I wrote about, I think it’s safe to say I wrote about the proceedings of this matter, yes.
Q.  And you did it in what I’ll call a formal paper?
A.  I did it in a paper presented, I believe – and I’d have to check if I’m wrong – at the Society of Biblical Literature. It may have been ASOR but it might have been SBL.
Q.  And you published a review of this as well in the Archaeology Review as well?
A.  Of this paper? Not to my knowledge.
Q.  At the November 23rd lecture? And this lecture was before whom again?
A.  It was again to my recollection the Society of Biblical Literature, it was a session on online research. There are different sessions within the Society of Biblical Literature. You can give a lecture on the Books of Samuel, a lecture on the prophets, and they have one on technology and the use of research.
Q.  And in that lecture did you say the following, quote, “Despite Norman and Raphael’s many criticisms, the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits were experiencing tremendous success and Norman Golb was still not being invited to speak at the museums lectures. Our patient vigilance had begun to payoff and the Golbs were experience increasing difficulty in getting out their message,” end quote?
A.  If it’s not word for word, that’s consistent with something that I said in the lecture.
Q.  Well, would you like to listen to a CD of that?
A.  Sure. No, but I guess you’re going to play it anyway.
Q.  No, I’m not.
(Court transcripts of the cross-examination of Robert Cargill, p. 759-760)

Golb’s defense attorney, Mr. Kuby, didn’t want to play the CD of my SBL paper because he didn’t have it. Had he actually been in possession of the conclusion of my 2009 SBL paper entitled, “Scholars Behaving Badly: ‘Charles Gadda,’ Raphael Golb, and the Campaign of Anonymity on the Internet to Promote Norman Golb and Smear His Rivals,” he’d have heard the following conclusion:

Finally, scholars should be reminded that they cannot force their legacies upon history; rather, our legacies are the product of a lifetime of research, instruction, publication, and collegiality. Today, scholars must collaborate and work together—within the parameters of peer review and professional conferences—and must not attempt to substitute these established practices with self-published articles and campaigns of online intimidation. The days of the old scholarly model of ripping your opponent’s position (and them personally) are over. Today, it is important for scholars to work cooperatively, with colleagues to bring about responsible scholarship. Because you must never forget: the island is always watching.

Thank you for your time.

Obviously, the conclusion of my SBL paper was different from the unpublished draft article that I had submitted to Archaeology. But that reality didn’t fit what Dr. Golb’s defense wanted to argue. So, he attempted to mislead the jury into thinking that I read the draft Archaeology article as my SBL paper, which was simply not the case. But, we see again that Dr. Golb’s defense team was not interested in the truth, or even the facts, but rather in continuing their attempt to smear me (and Dr. Schiffman) by simply making things up.

So, back to Dr. Golb’s appeal. There are ultimately two problems with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal. First, Dr. Golb’s defense again intentionally misleads those unfortunate few interested enough in reading through the 111 pages of rehashed red herrings and irrelevant excuses presented in the appeal by failing to inform the reader that this statement is actually a quote from Shrine of the Book Curator, Dr. Magen Broshi, which he made to the newspaper, Ha’aretz, on October 4, 1991.

In fact, the defense counsel knew this, because they had not only asked me about it during my cross-examination, but had quoted it and properly attributed it to Dr. Broshi in their earlier Motion to Dismiss the charges against Dr. Golb, pages 4-5:

This suggestion was accompanied by widely reported defamatory statements, including the assertion by Magen Broshi, director of the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem, that Norman Golb was a “revolting polemist, an opinionated trouble-maker” who had “filled the world with his filth,” and of whom “we will be free … when he dies.” (Haaretz, October 4, 1991.)

The defense counsel contradicts reality (and its own court filing!) by claiming in their appeal that *I* made the statement they themselves correctly attributed to Dr. Broshi earlier in their motion to dismiss.

Go figure.

Of course, what’s ironic about Dr. Broshi’s quote is that I would have never known about it had Dr. Golb not published it on page 230 of his own book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So Dr. Broshi said it. Dr. Golb repeated it on page 230 of his book. Dr. Golb’s defense team repeated the quote in their motion to dismiss, and specifically asked me about it during cross-examination. But according to Dr. Golb’s appeal, *I* made the quote.

I shake my head.

But, there’s another problem with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal: I NEVER QUOTED THE QUOTE!

The defense mistakenly assumed that I had read from the draft of an article that I had written and sent to Archaeology for publication. However, we decided not to publish the article, which means no one ever read the draft of the article except me and the Archaeology editor, and apparently Mr. Kuby (who somehow managed to obtain a copy of the draft of the article). The defense was attempting to make me look bad by trying to argue that I read Dr. Broshi’s quote to a session at SBL. The only problem is, I didn’t use the line in my SBL paper! I told Dr. Golb’s defense counsel that I couldn’t recall using that line during cross-examination. Unfortunately for Dr. Golb’s defense counsel, I did not. But that didn’t stop the defense from attempting to tell the jury that I quoted the quote in my paper. And when the jury saw through Dr. Golb’s lies and found him guilty thirty-one times, it didn’t stop Dr. Golb’s defense from stating the flat out lie that I concluded my SBL paper with the words, “The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies.” It never happened, and yet, there it is in Dr. Golb’s appeal, presented as if it were fact. Simply amazing!

The defense is not only misleading the court (and the public by posting the appeal online anonymously), but it is also flat out lying when it claims in their appeal that I said something in a lecture that I did not.

Of course, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Dr. Golb can make up whatever he wants in his appeal because it is “protected speech.” But the NY DA will simply point out that the appeal is full of lies and misstatements, and the appellate court will make the appropriate judgment.

But this just shows once again what we’ve come to expect from Dr. Golb and his defense team: the demonstrated, repeated willingness to mislead any who will listen, misrepresent facts, and flat out lie in a desperate attempt to blame someone – anyone! – for Dr. Golb’s own crimes.

quote of the day: on dead sea scrolls scholarship

Quote of the Day (Dr. Evil)The following exchange is taken from p. 748 of the official court transcripts of the criminal trial of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb.

Dr. Robert R. Cargill is being cross-examined by Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby.

CARGILL: “I had written against old-school peer review methods, yes.”
KUBY: “We’ll call it ‘new school’, the younger, hipper version – to put it online so that anybody can read it.”
CARGILL: “I don’t know how ‘hip’ it is. I won’t characterize it as ‘hip’ as we’re all still pretty much nerds writing about the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

I forgot I said that. Under oath even. Made me smile.

DR. GOLB FOUND GUILTY! – New York Criminal Court Finds Golb Guilty of Multiple Counts of Identity Theft, Forgery, Criminal Impersonation, Aggravated Harassment

“This refers to the Spouter of Lies (מטיף הכזב), who deceived many…

1QpHab 10:9
(Pesher Habakkuk is a Dead Sea Scroll from Qumran Cave 1)


Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 51 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court, September 30, 2010.

Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court, September 30, 2010.

The Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court has found Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, GUILTY of multiple felony and 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. Dr. Golb was also charged with criminally impersonating and/or assuming the identity of Dr. Frank Moore Cross, Dr. Jonathan Seidel, Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, Dr. Stephen Goranson; the aggravated harassment of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, Dr. Stephen Goranson, and Dr. Robert Cargill; and of the unauthorized use of a NYU computer.

The 12-person jury of Dr. Golb’s peers wasted little time in finding him guilty on multiple counts.

So much for the “it may not be very nice, but it’s not illegal” defense. It’s illegal too!

Dr. Golb admitted under cross-examination that he lied to police during his initial arrest interview, and that he had indeed created all of the emails he sent to NYU and UCLA faculty and administrators.

Dr. Golb’s defense attorneys, Ron Kuby (who is notable enough to have a Wikipedia page ;-) and David Breitbart, attempted to argue that Dr. Golb’s criminal impersonation, identity theft, and forgery were protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech. The jury apparently was not impressed with the defense’s attempt to use protected speech afforded it by the criminal justice process (witnesses cannot sue the defense for libelous, defamatory, and/or false claims made during the trial) to attack Dr. Golb’s victims further. Despite attempting to turn the trial into a referendum on Dr. Golb’s views about the Dead Sea Scrolls, attempting to put Dr. Schiffman on trial for plagiarism he did not commit, or using a parody/satire/I was just kidding/it was all a joke defense, the jury saw through defense tactics and found Dr. Golb guilty.

The convicted felon Golb will be sentenced November 18. Prior to the trial, the defendant turned down a plea agreement where he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, paid a fine, and would be placed on probation for two years. Golb rejected the deal because probation would have prevented him from using aliases to battleblog against others online. Perhaps this explains defense attorney David Breitbart’s comment:

“He had to go to trial in this case in order to accomplish his goal.”

This sentiment betrays Dr. Golb’s entire motive both for his smear campaign and for not settling the case: he knew he was guilty, he knew what he was doing was wrong, he knew he was going down, so he tried to take Dr. Schiffman with him. He tried to put Dr. Schiffman on trial for something he didn’t do.

It is worth noting that the father of the convicted felon, Dr. Norman Golb, has been shown in publicly available court documents (here and here) to not only have known about his son’s smear campaign, but to have actively participated in some of the activities that led to his son’s arrest and conviction. Yet, Dr. Norman Golb did not testify in his son’s defense; he did not even attend the trial.

Perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls really are cursed…

A few questions remain:

  • Will Dr. Golb appeal the decision?
  • Will Dr. Golb be automatically disbarred from the New York State Bar, or will there be disbarment proceedings?
  • Will the University of Chicago formally apologize to the victims of crimes committed by relatives and employees of the Oriental Institute now that the court has shown that a University employee (Dr. Norman Golb) had full knowledge of and participated in some of these criminal activities?

As for my role in this case, I shall continue to monitor the situation and shine a light on all those who attempt to use devious means to harm good scholars. I shall continue to update this case at

“For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel,
and before the sun.”

2 Samuel 12:12

update: golb’s motion to dismiss the charges against him available online

yet another anonymous wordpress blog has suddenly appeared linking to a motion to dismiss the charges against raphael golb in the felony identity theft, aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation, and forgery case involving the son of university of chicago historian norman golb and the dead sea scrolls.

i’ll leave a formal response to this motion to the ny da’s office. they do this kind of thing. i’ll just say that calling golb’s actions ‘parody’ is literally laughable. not snl ha ha funny, but simply laughable. also, to argue that impersonation, forgery, and identity theft aren’t ‘criminal’ unless you made money off the crime (or cost the victim cash) is equally absurd. there are numerous errors in the motion to dismiss, but i’ll let the da’s office respond to them.

as for golb’s defense attorney, ronald kuby, i must offer some genuine props. as many of you know, one of my all time favorite movies is the big lebowski. there’s way too much ‘cursing’ for my liking, but the movie is a classic. and anyone who can land a mention in a classic movie where the central premise is, ‘the dude abides,’ is cool. if you’ve never seen the big lebowski, it’s a movie about a complete slacker who slides through life and finds himself caught up in a scandal. and when he wants a lawyer, he utters a simple name.

listen to hear the name he calls.

you can read the pdf. i get a mention in there. still not sure about all the obsession with me being a christian. what’s the harm in that? ;-) the dead sea scrolls have nothing to do with christians or christianity. and while some jewish sectarians with ties to the temple wrote the dead sea scrolls, i never refer to them as essenes in my publications. yet, the entire introduction of the motion of dismiss looks like rehash of ‘charles gadda’s’ old blogs. it’s almost as if raphael golb helped write it, but then again, what do i know about multiple people authoring a single document? my skill is in demonstrating common authorship of multiple documents. ;-)

on recent news about the ‘cloak and browser’ case against raphael golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

raphael haim golb was back in court on wed. nov. 3, 2009, providing the latest episode in the ever-enthralling ‘cloak and browser’ internet anonymity scandal involving the son of university of chicago historian norman golb, who impersonated another scholar and confessed to plagiarism in his name.

in his about new york column, new york times columnist jim dwyer wrote a nov. 6, 2009 piece about the raphael golb internet scandal entitled, ‘2,000-year-old scrolls, internet-era crime.’ likewise, the associated press wrote a summary of golb’s recent nov 4, 2009 court proceedings entitled, ‘lawyer claims parodies, pranks at risk in dead sea scrolls case.’ likewise, jennifer peltz of the associated press also wrote an article entitled, ‘ny case spotlights dead sea scrolls, fake e-mails‘ which appears on yahoo news. clearly, this case is important both for its implications regarding anonymity, impersonation, and identity theft on the internet, and its repercussions for scholarship within the academy.

and each day that this case drags on, university of chicago historian norman golb’s legacy and reputation becomes more associated with scandal, dishonesty, internet crime and academic fraud, and less associated with his life of scholarship. yet, raphael golb’s defense is insisting that golb’s actions are protected by the first amendment to the constitution.

recent proceedings in the case of the people of new york vs. raphael golb

while the recent press coverage of the golb scandal has been fair, it is relaying some claims by the defense that are misleading or simply not true.

for instance, in his new york times article, dwyer states:

For a while, no one knew that 50 different names in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate were the prolific Mr. Golb…

this is incorrect. i knew, as did a host of others. we all knew. i knew who it was. i tracked everything he did. the potential libel and defamation were civil matters, and i wanted an accurate log of everything golb did or wrote. but when he crossed the line and acted criminally by impersonating nyu professor dr. lawrence schiffman, i contacted schiffman (as i had done with several other scholars before him), told him who was behind it, and handed what i had collected over to the ny district attorney’s office.


another instance is the claim by raphael golb’s attorney, ronald kuby, that what golb did is commonplace. according to dwyer, golb’s lawyer:

argued that prosecutors were trying to criminalize the commonplace. Both sides in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate, they said, use “sock puppets” — fake identities — on the Internet to make it seem as if scores of people are arguing a point.

“These bloggers marshaled their legion of sock puppets to engage in intellectual combat with the sock puppets allegedly created by Raphael Golb and others,” the lawyers wrote.

XKV8R License Plate

XKV8R (excavator) is currently the California license plate for Dr. Robert Cargill's hybrid Toyota Prius

this statement contains multiple problems. first, where is the ‘legion of sock puppets’ about which golb’s attorney speaks? golb had over 80 aliases (‘alias’ defined as a pseudonym intended to mask the true identity of an author). we know the alias’ names. but to argue that golb was simply battling against other aliases is misleading. many on the internet have internet ‘user names‘, nicknames, or ‘handles’ (like old cb radio handles), but these are not intended to disguise identity. for instance one of my handles is bobcargill (all lower case, one word) – not really much of a disguise. all of the posts i make on this blog are done in the username of ‘bobcargill.’ my user name/handle on wikipedia is ‘xkv8r‘ (previously ‘israelxkv8r‘). again, this handle points to my wikipedia user page, which is complete with pictures and a full biography, making my identity easily known. additionally, the fact that redirects to my website, and serves as my california license plate number makes it quite clear exactly who i am.

however, this is not the case with raphael golb. on several occasions, golb vehemently protested discussion about his true identity on wikipedia, perhaps fearful that were his true identity to be made known, he would be the target of any number of civil lawsuits. likewise, raphael golb was always careful to not betray any privy knowledge of or communication with his father, norman golb, for were it ever shown that raphael golb was in direct communication with his father, it may pose the same potential problem for norman golb and his employer, the university of chicago. therefore, raphael golb went to a great lengths to conceal his identity. criminals usually don’t like it when victims know who is behind the mask. but, the rest of us on the internet are not concerned whether the public knows who we are. this is because we are not cowards, but are willing to stand behind the free speech we make.

there is another problem with this line of defense. sock puppets are unfortunately a reality on the internet. but, this does not make them appropriate or legal in certain contexts. for instance, wikipedia prohibits the use of sock puppets on their site. ironically, it was golb’s use of multiple sock puppets on wikipedia (‘critical_reader‘, ‘philip kirby,’ and ultimately ‘rachel.greenberg‘) that provided the final piece of evidence we needed to prove that all of the sock puppets were, in fact, tied to alias ‘charles gadda,’ and therefore to raphael golb. thus, sockpuppetry is not permitted on several of the forums in which raphael golb participated, and it was the reason golb was banished from wikipedia.

the use of aliases by raphael golb was not to promote free speech, but to disguise criminal activity!


another problem stems from the defense’s categorization of the crime. according to the associated press, golb’s lawyer, ronald kuby said:

“It’s usually very difficult to fit this into a (criminal) legal pigeonhole,”

the problem is: it’s not. again, golb is not being tried for the libel and defamation he spewed online against me and other scholars like risa levitt kohn, jodi magness, william schniedewind, stephen goranson, bart ehrman, david noel freedman, etc. those matters will be taken up in civil court after the conclusion of the criminal trial. golb is being tried for impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment. the new york district attorney’s office rightly limited their charges to only those counts that specifically address criminal attempts to impersonate, harass, and steal the identity of lawrence schiffman, jonathan seidel, and stephen goranson. this means that the defense’s argument that

‘injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation’

is moot, because golb is not being charged for the civil crimes of defamation against me and others, rather, he’s being charged in the specific incidents of impersonation, aggravated harassment, and identity theft in the instance of schiffman, seidel, and goranson. while the defense attempts to blur the line between the civil matters and the criminal ones, the fact remains: it is not very difficult to ‘pigeonhole’ this criminal activity. raphael golb pretended to be lawrence schiffman in order to bring specific harm to him. in doing so, he impersonated him. impersonation is a crime. golb harassed schiffman in a most aggravated manner by writing a post using the alias ‘peter kaufman’ accusing dr. schiffman of plagiarizing his father, norman golb. (note: the nowpublic post by ‘peter kaufman’ has been removed by nowpublic, but that which raphael golb said about lawrence schiffman still exists in a cached web archive, and several blog posts, including this one, still remain online. coincidentally, golb used the alias ‘larryschiffman’ to post this blog.) aggravated harassment is a crime. raphael golb sent emails as lawrence schiffman, after signing up for email accounts and blog addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman. forgery is a crime. taking out an email address ( and writing in the first person to confess to something and blogging in the name of lawrence schiffman is a crime. there is nothing ‘difficult’ about it.


golb’s lawyer argued:

the e-mail messages were transparent parodies, and that in any event, injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation.

this is simply not true. there is no expectation of parody or satire with raphael golb. in the case of known satirists like stephen colbert, or known parodists like saturday night live, there is an expectation of parody or satire. that is, it can be argued that this speech is protected under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. however, with the case of raphael golb, this is not the case. in fact, the opposite is true. raphael golb was not claiming parody, but was actively attempting to disguise his identity while making false, often harmful accusations against his father’s perceived opponents by hiding behind multiple aliases. at no point was there ever an expectation or acknowledgement of parody or satire. raphael golb attempted nothing less than to defame and professionally harm the careers of his father’s perceived rivals, and ultimately acted criminally by impersonating one of them, lawrence schiffman, in order to do so.

it is important to remember that the schiffman incident was not an isolated incident. rather, it was the criminal culmination of a pattern of behavior involving a well-organized, premeditated, campaign of deceit and influence that escalated from comments on message boards and discussion forums, comments on internet news items, nowpublic articles, blogs, infiltration of wikipedia pages, emails to a graduate student’s faculty questioning whether he should he should receive his degree, written letters to board members of museums, emails to journalists encouraging them to write about golb and the ‘qumran controversy,’ and ultimately the criminal impersonation of lawrence schiffman, which included forged letters to his graduate students and colleagues.

this was not parody. it was a one-sided assault on scholars that disagreed with norman golb and the museums that hosted dead sea scrolls exhibitions. his intent was to harm attendance at museum exhibitions and besmirch the reputations of people who had done nothing wrong other than disagree with norman golb’s minority opinions about qumran and the dead sea scrolls.


the defense has taken another odd tactic, which demonstrates a lack of faith in their ‘free speech’ defense. according to peltz’ associated press article:

Golb contests sending the e-mails. But whoever did send them was just pulling an “intellectual prank” and expressing ideas protected by free speech rights, said Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby.

golb is attempting to invoke the right of ‘free speech’ while not admitting to making the said ‘speech.’ despite knowing exactly who was immediately responsible for the claims of the ‘charles gadda,’ ‘peter kaufman,’ and other aliases, raphael golb has still not admitted that he was actually the one who sent the emails in schiffman’s name. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is attempting to have the statements made by golb at the time of his arrest thrown out. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is contesting the search warrant and the search executed on raphael golb’s home: despite all evidence to the contrary (and his father, norman golb’s multiple purported statements essentially confessing that his son is ‘charles gadda’), raphael golb still does not want to admit to sending the emails.

golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, is attempting to invoke a ‘free speech’ defense without admitting to the speech. which begs the question: how confident is raphael golb’s laywer, ron kuby, in his own defense? one would think that if this really were an attempt to argue on behalf of free speech, mr. kuby would say, ‘yes, my client, raphael golb, made these claims, but he is protected by his right to free speech.’ instead, mr. kuby is attempting to argue, ‘this is a case of free speech, but my client does not admit to making the statements (sending the emails) in question.’ kuby undermines the confidence of his own defense by not admitting to his client’s participation in the so-called protected ‘free speech.’


ultimately, the central claim made by the defense is nothing more than a red herring (or to be technical in a rhetorical sense, an ignoratio elenchi). according to peltz’ associated press article, golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, stated:

“An attempt to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings authored under assumed names cannot be an object of criminal” laws designed to protect people from fraud, threats or physical harm, Kuby wrote in papers filed this week.

this is a red herring. of course, attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’ is not criminal. this is what scholars do. and yes, attempting to influence a scholarly debate using arguments ‘authored under assumed names’ may or may not be ‘an object of criminal laws.’ however, this is not what raphael golb is accused of doing!! raphael golb is accused of intentionally posing as lawrence schiffman and admitting to something he did not do! raphael golb is accused of taking out email addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman and writing to schiffman’s students and colleagues in the first person. engaging in or attempting to influence a public, academic debate is not a crime, but, doing so using the names of known scholars, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and forgery certainly is.

raphael golb does not stand accused of attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’. this, and harassment, libel, and defamation caused by his actions are indeed the subject of a civil court, and will be deal with accordingly once the criminal trial is complete.


raphael golb’s actions in this criminal case were not an isolated incident, nor were they a prank, satire, parody, or other kind of joke. this was a premeditated, well-coordinated, well-planned, methodical, two-year campaign of defamation, intimidation, and harassment, ultimately ending in impersonation and forgery, perpetuated by raphael golb against those he felt were his father’s opponents. his intent was to harm museum attendance and denigrate the reputations of scholars that disagreed with norman golb.

likewise, arguments that raphael golb had to use pseudonyms in order to protect against academic backlash are unfounded. when rachel elior’s minority theory about qumran and the essenes became public, it was widely refuted, but she suffered no harm to her career or reputation by personally addressing criticism on the internet and in the press. she simply participated in the academic process. this differs greatly from what appears to be golb’s approach, which apparently involved raphael doing the dirty work of attacking his father’s rivals, and norman golb siting back in his endowed chair at the prestigious university of chicago oriental institute, seemingly above the fray, and answering inquiries from media outlets most likely drummed up by his son, raphael.

it appears the entire campaign was designed to denigrate norman golb’s rivals, and keep golb’s name – and his theory – in the news. raphael golb went too far, and broke the law.

this is not about free speech, it’s about getting caught breaking the law.

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