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Judge rules for con artist and against free speech

Lovefraud has just published the most recent mind-boggling chapter of the Phil Haberman saga. Haberman, you may recall, has a tendency to exaggerate his meager military service to women he meets on the Internet, plays the wounded soldier when he suffered no injuries, and defrauds people such as his ex-wife.

Haberman’s story was originally published on September 1, 2005 by the Dallas Observer. It was then picked up by at least five different websites and blogs, including Lovefraud. His ex-wife launched her own blog in July, 2006.

Haberman had tried to coerce and threaten the other websites into removing the information about him. No one did it. But when his ex-wife launched her blog, she became a target that Haberman could strike. He took her to family court, claiming domestic violence through cyberstalking.

Judge Robert B. Bennett Jr., of the twelfth judicial circuit in Sarasota, Florida, believed Haberman. He ordered his ex-wife to remove her blog, and make sure all other Haberman stories were removed as well.

Court hearing

To write my article, I listened to the recording of the one-hour hearing in the Florida courtroom. How did Haberman convince the judge to buy his story?

Haberman testified first. When he did, he used message management techniques:

1. Borrowed credibility. In his first few sentences of testimony, Haberman mentioned being stationed at Fort Bragg, and Detective Mary Thoroman of the North Port police department. By doing so, he borrowed the credibility of the military and the police.

2. Detailed, but irrelevant facts. Haberman said his ex-wife was served with the temporary restraining order on “August 28 at 6:33 p.m.” He quoted the Florida cyberstalking statute number 784.048. As a direct marketing copywriter, I know that details sell better than generalities. Do these details mean anything? No, but they sound good.

3. Character assassination. Haberman quickly brought up that his ex-wife had been detained by the Las Vegas police for allegedly attempting to disarm a bailiff, and that the report had been faxed to Detective Thoromon. Of course he did not mention that there was no evidence that she actually did it.

4. Confident presentation. Haberman’s testimony was sprinkled with half-truths, irrelevancies and accusations. But his tone of voice was confident to the point of being adamant—he was right and his ex-wife was wrong.

Haberman did a good job of acting like a lawyer. His ex-wife, on the other hand, should have had an attorney. In her cross-examination, she asked questions that she shouldn’t have asked, and she didn’t ask the questions that would have helped her case. But, having been financially wiped out by Haberman, she couldn’t afford a lawyer. She was on her own, and did the best she could.

Haberman’s ex-wife thought she would have an opportunity to present proof that the statements on her blog were true, and Haberman was a liar and a fraud. For example, she had evidence that Haberman was not currently in the National Guard, as he stated. She never got her chance.

Judge Bennett had “heard enough.” He ruled in favor of Haberman without one document being placed into evidence.

Jurisdiction and First Amendment

It’s bad enough that Judge Bennett ordered the woman to take her blog down without allowing her to present her evidence. But then he held her accountable for all the other stories and postings about Haberman on the Internet.

Huh?

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a judge presiding in family court, in a domestic violence case, has no jurisdiction over the Internet.

Plus, all of the other publishers did their own research and determined that the Haberman case was newsworthy. It’s called free speech, and it’s protected by the First Amendment.

Haberman was the one who originally sought media attention. He sent stories of his adventures in Iraq (highly exaggerated) to his high school newspaper. Then he tried to get television coverage of his return visit to his high school in Dallas.

But when the media started publishing the truth, he didn’t like it.

Legitimate purpose

The Florida cyberstalking statute defines the crime as electronic harassment that serves “no legitimate purpose.”

Haberman’s ex-wife said her purpose in writing about him was to expose him as a con artist. Believe me, it is a legitimate purpose.

People like Haberman rarely get arrested or prosecuted. I hear horror stories all the time of predators getting away with victimizing people. They run up credit cards and leave the victims with the debts. They falsely accuse their ex-spouses of being unfit parents and win full custody of children. They bleed their victims of assets, and then harass them through the courts, when the victims can’t afford to defend themselves.

Then the victims get no justice from the legal system.

Victims are frustrated. They’ve been had, and they know the predator is going to do it again. They at least want to warn others about the person who conned them, hoping to save someone else from the devastation they suffered.

I’ve seen that exposing con artists works. People have contacted Lovefraud, expressing gratitude for the warnings about Haberman. They avoided becoming victims.

To me, posting the truth about a predator on the Internet is more than legitimate. It’s a public service.

Additional Lovefraud coverage of this case

Phil Haberman gets married and claims more money from the Army (November, 2005)

Haberman keeps the con going (April 2006)

Judge orders ex-wife to remove blogs that expose Haberman (November, 2006)



26 Comments on "Judge rules for con artist and against free speech"

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  1. one_step_at_a_time says:

    oh, they do like to tell us who they are. can’t count the number of times the ppath’s sock puppets ranted on about ‘online predators.’ snort! lots more come to mind, but i might as well just publish her name if i went in to them.

    rat bastard…right on the cruise! jayzus. audacious….tis truly amazing…going to the list from the rules of spathiness, #10 – always believe you are right. you are right.

    what a heartache that man was. running from his cons now…

    ….ya know what i say….’can’t kill them with impunity.’



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  2. SageeGirl says:

    Hi LFers!!! I have not been here for a while, but this seemed like as good a place as any to post this, since my last one mentioned that I was leaving for a while to take care of my ex. I have missed all you guys and girls, and hope that everyone is doing well.

    I am only home until Sunday, when I will leave again until April… I don’t post from ex’s house, because he is most likely an N/S, and doesn’t like for me to spend time on his computer—plus I would leave a history for him to find… Hmmmm… notice any red flags here?!!! Hahaha!!! (At least I can always LEAVE!!!)

    I came back home 2 weeks ago and had seen the P twice, but NC. Just did my business and went home… Last week, I saw a woman who could have been the stalker (P’s “exGF”), and I went back to get a second look. She looked at me, and when I got home, I had gotten a call at the exact time this exchange took place… So Tuesday I broke NC and was so mad at P that I told him to tell her to stop it or it would be a felony—and he would also be charged. He got very angry and started telling me to stay away from him and that he was warning me… Needless to say, I was a wreck. I’m getting past that, because the only way to go now is forward.

    Now I need some advice… I met a guy in May, saw him again in August, and we became FB friends. We sent messages and chatted— nearly every day, and I was going to have him over for dinner one night since his schedule was hectic, and I would only be here for 2 weeks. Last week didn’t work for either of us, so he said he had one day off this week and “WOULD LET ME KNOW”… We chatted for about 2 hours that night, and it seemed we were looking forward to spending some time together. We joke all the time, and he seems like a normal guy…

    Guess what? He NEVER LET ME KNOW!!! Haven’t heard a thing since Sunday night. I’ve sent him two light messages asking how he is doing and did he still want to do dinner, and NOTHING… Am I just being paranoid and he is very busy? Should I talk to him and ask him what happened (If and when I hear from him again), OR should I just stop all contact? I don’t get the feeling he is any kind of S/N/P, and I feel a little spathy for thinking of doing what spaths do— the discarding thing… but that was the EXACT same thing the P did to me ALL THE TIME….. He even used the same phrase I’LL LET YOU KNOW or I’LL CALL YOU…

    It really hit me like a brick, because it just FEELS like the way the P made me feel when he did that for a year… Cried all day, asked myself how stupid could I be, couldn’t eat or sleep, brain in a FOG, and can’t DO anything.

    I don’t want to be a doormat, but I don’t want to be a betch either. I want to find out the reason, and if it’s a good one, then maybe I’ll forgive… but that’s all I did before and it got me discarded and stalked and gaslighted.

    I have been on here reading since Monday, trying to just keep myself centered and focused, and I hope I am not making a spath out of a decent guy just because he couldn’t get in touch with me… I am so confused…



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Sageegirl,

    Welcome back!11

    When people treat you with DIS-respect,, they are telling you how they REALLY feel about you. LISTEN.

    Doesn’t matter if he is a P or not, he was DISRESPECTFUL to you, so ditch the creep. BOUNDARIES. He did NOT keep his word that he would call you and unless he is in a coma, there is NO excuse good enough to not send you a text, e mail or a call. NONE!

    When people TELL us by their ACTIONS how the feel about us, we need to listen.

    Good luck and keep on reading! Keep on learning! (((hugs)))



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  4. SageeGirl says:

    Hi Oxy! I’ve missed you! I just read about your tossing stuff today! I’ve done a lot of that in the last 2 weeks too!

    I know what you are saying…it’s just that in my mind I have a hard time thinking that this guy would BE that way… Ooops, I think that’s phase #1: Denial… It’s so hard for me to deal with the fact that we were having so much fun and then POOF!!! He disappears… He has never done that before, and I was 8 hours away. Now that it’s only 35 minutes, and we were planning to have a great time— he’s GONE!!!

    OK, I will do my best to just LET IT GO…If he does try to contact me, I will not respond. Why does this hurt so much when we’ve only seen each other a few times, talked on the phone and chatted online. I felt like this was the most normal guy I’ve ever dealt with in my life.

    I’ve not “dated” much. Went from Husband #1 to #2 with no one in between, then a non-committal guy for 6 years, to the P for a year, to this new guy… I’m not too savvy about how to deal with this, and that’s probably how the P swooped in so easily and ruined my life for a year. Even after the police had the evidence and I told him Tuesday that his “ex” called again, he had the nerve to say that it wasn’t HER doing the calling, IT WAS SOMEONE ELSE…. Yeah, riiiight………. Grrrrrr……..

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. You always make so much sense and I hope to one day be more of a helper than a needy person here. It’s good to be back!



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  5. Ox Drover says:

    Dear sagee,

    Sweetie we have all been needy here, and from time to time we will all be needy again…that’s what makes us humans! The difference between us and them is that we don’t suck the very LIFE out of others to meet our “needs.”

    Anyone who treats me with any sign of DISRESPECT like lies, not keeping their words (and I do know things happen) but I no longer give everyone but myself the “benefit of the doubt” and when people TREAT me with disrespect I LISTEN.

    Funny thing when people treat you with disrespect and you give them the old “heave ho” (especially early on in a relationship like this when he should be on his “best behavior”) you can see it as a sign of MORE DISRESPECT TO COME….and worse. So good for you for picking up on him doing this, now set a boundary. HIS loss, not yours. You need more trouble in your life WHY? LOL



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  6. one_step_at_a_time says:

    it’s just me – i don’t know if you are around, but I wanted to write to you. I read a few of your posts where you are wondering about your own empathy and stability. I wish I knew more about what you are experiencing, as I could be more specific.

    I want to lie, cheat, obscure, hide, and con. ALL of these things are a response to being in relationship with someone with ABSOLUTELY NO MORAL COMPASS, who did all those tings to me. I am deeply damaged by what she did, so i see her as really powerful. And i WANT the power to not be hurt again. It’s like someone shot me, and now i want a gun for safety.

    Add to this, anxiety and a genuine sense of shock and trauma – which has left me almost completely untrusting of others; questioning their motivations, sincerity and values. I don’t feel safe anywhere.

    I also don’t trust myself – i seethe anger some days, i have no ease about me (or little at most); i have lost a sense of perspective about interactions with others, and i cannot trust myself not to bear my teeth at others; think clearly, get triggered or handle freaking anything well. I cannot handle stress well, at all. i can’t even figure out how odd i really am.

    Now – i have told you all this for a reason…not to moan, but to say – even with all this I KNOW DAMN WELL I AM EMPATHETIC AND NOT A SPATH. I AM traumatized, messed up beyond anything i have known before in my 50 years of life…

    *****BUT**** I know that one day i WILL be okay. Today I know that – 2 days ago, not so much. It IS a roller coaster ride.

    have faith. have heart. i believe it can change for all of us. you included. get more – support and resources – do more – reading and writing. work your way out of it. have faith, and don’t lose it. know that it can change, that in spite of it all, you are still precious, worthy, and deserve life. You are more than your pain and trauma and fears – vaster than what has been done to you, twisted within or taken from you – you are just simply healing.

    being affected by a spath is like a car accident – our body’s and psyches go into trauma mode – our nerves hurt, own minds shut down to keep us safe from imploding, and then slowly, after *much* convalescing, we can venture out of the corner, for a few moments. Healing takes time. Lots of time. Have patience with yourself, and the healing. Have faith.

    best,
    one step.



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  7. SageeGirl says:

    Good Morning Oxy and One Step,

    Sorry I didn’t get back last night…The finale of Project Runway came on at 9, and I fell asleep and missed half of it anyway! At least I was able to sleep last night. Yes, even this little act of disrespect has traumatized me. I think it is because the P’s actions were so much THE SAME!!!

    The strangest thing about it is that when I woke up on Tuesday morning, I KNEW this was going to happen. Something in my sub-conscious TOLD ME TO FACE REALITY… (I have been known to have premonitions— I just didn’t know what they meant until LATER) Just as if it were the P I was dealing with… And THAT was what triggered me to FACE THE P and tell him about his “ex”GF.

    It’s almost as if I were POSSESSED, and someone else was taking over my actions— because my brain told me not to do it… And yes, One Step, maybe part of that is that I want CONTROL NOW. He and his GF had it over me for so long that I literally could not function, and I just wanted him to know that I had the law on my side… Trouble is, that action will probably be turned around on me and I’ll be THE BAD GUY…

    I’ve spent my life repressing every emotion I have, especially when I was married to the N, because I wasn’t ALLOWED to raise my voice or be right about anything. Then I spent 6 years like Rapunzel, waiting for my knight in shining armor to get his act together… then the P came along and screwed my brain up even more, and then this normal, funny, not handsome, wholesome, son of a preacher, “nice guy” comes along and I am ready to be treated WITH RESPECT.

    And Oxy, THAT is exactly what I was adamant about with this guy from the beginning. That I wanted to form a relationship based on mutual RESPECT, TRUST and FRIENDSHIP… And I KNOW you are RIGHT… If he does it this early on, he will continue to do it. I did break down and send him a message asking WTH he is and should I be worried or upset? I thought that would let him know that he was wrong without “sounding like a needy betch” if something truly did happen in his family or something.

    I am so tired of the roller coaster ride. Funny, I thought I was all healed. Then I see the P, freak out when I see his “ex”, get the phone call at that very time (how odd is THAT?), and then the “nice guy” treats me the very same way the P did.

    To explain in better detail, my N-ExHusband totally isolated me. Didn’t want me to have friends, hated when I talked on the phone, you know the story… He was retired, wouldn’t let me work, so we were joined at the hip 24/7/365.

    The P love-bombed me until I fell for him. Then he did the I’LL LET YOU KNOW or I’LL CALL YOU thing EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. MOnday at 8 a.m., the phone would ring or he would show up here just before work… Never would “explain”… Always said he’d tell me later, didn’t want to talk about it…

    Then he dumped me in January— very cruelly for no reason at all. Two months of NC he started talking to me again. Texts followed. All day long… He missed me…he was going crazy…thinking of moving away… Got me all warmed up and then we were going to get together… he starts saying he wasn’t sure. I got mad and told him that I felt like I’d been led down the Primrose path and mind-f***ed… Then he switched back to wanting to see me… (I had never heard of N/S/P’s or LF or had any CLUE about all this).

    OK I was lonely and loved him dearly…I missed him. He was so different this time. Trouble is, with all the things that were “better” there were things that got worse… He was getting rough in bed. Seeming more and more robotic. Talking less and less. Then one day I started getting closer to the truth about his “ex” GF and he dumped me. We found out that it WAS INDEED his “ex” doing the stalking that year, and she told police that they lived together most of the time. So the game was now over.

    OH- and his nickname at the end of all his texts: The Game… I thought it meant football.

    So here I am with this new guy, being led down that same Primrose Path and POOF! He’s gone too….. It is just getting soooo old. At least I think I can function enough to do all I have to do to get out of here on Sunday.

    But I thank you for being here. My biggest problem with all of this is that I began to question my own sanity. To wonder if the lies were true. To hate myself for thinking bad things about people (could they actually be lying to me or have a GF that they are not telling me about—OH HOW COULD I THINK SUCH THINGS???).

    Yes, they seem to have all Gaslighted me. Strangest thing— Gaslight is my favorite movie. Love Ingrid… But I always thought that could NEVER happen to me because I KNOW how to READ people and I KNOW when they are trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Maybe it’s just being lonely that has me so vulnerable.

    LF is should be called LL “Life Line”. Not many of my friends or family can understand this at all. So I just don’t share it… It’s really hard doing it all alone, so thanks to EVERYONE who posts and writes articles here. I am living MANY of your stories, and wonder about 50% of the time if you aren’t talking about my P!!!!! I’ll try to come back as often as I can. But thanks to all for being HERE!!!



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  8. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Sageegirl,

    Darling I’m glad you are starting to realize that they are not going to change, and that when they start texting calling and so on, WE CAN TAKE CONTROL if we choose to by NOT RESPONDING. Not reacting.

    NO one can take control of our lives unless we allow it. No one can treat us badly (more than once) unless we ALLOW it.

    Remember the old line?-“Chit on me ONCE, shame on YOU, chit on me TWICE, shame on ME.”

    I no longer give second chances to people…when they show me that they are DIS-respectful, liars, etc. they do NOT get another chance to do it to me. NO EXCUSES!

    I am honest and respectful to others, and I expect them to be respectful and honest to me if they want to be around me. Otherwise, get out of my life.

    I’m sure your “friend” will call back with some excuse why he didn’t call you—but whatever it is, I suggest you don’t respond.



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