A little over a year ago I got a phone call, out of the blue, telling me that my longtime friend Tricia was being sued (Original Petition), by her fairly recently acquired partner in Websleuths, Susan Pruitt. Tricia and I go all the way back to the JonBenet Ramsey case in 1996. We met while posting about the case on a forum called Justice Now, or something similar. We physically met while going on searches in Austin, Texas for Rachel Cooke...a young woman who went missing while she was home from college on Christmas holiday. She has not been found to this day. Tricia and I became fast friends, I've visited her several times in Utah and spent part of the summer in one of her family's cabins on a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Park City. Both our kids were small when we met and now they've graduated from High School (her son), and my child recently graduated from college - so a friendship that has lasted almost 20 years.
|Patricia (Tricia) Griffith - Co-Owner Websleuths, Owner Tricia's True Crime on I-Heart Radio|
Tricia bought Websleuths about ten years ago because she loves true crime and sleuthing true crime mysteries. She found out quickly that owning a forum the size of Websleuths negates participation on the owner's part. The forum has about 20 moderators, whose job I do not envy, and those moderators address members "alerts" and complaints 24/7. Additionally their job is to scrutinize posts and edit anything that might put the forum at risk for litigation. Tricia was constantly being bombarded with requests by members and staff to take care of one situation or another, all day, all night, one person. The forum generated just enough money to cover server bills and other expenses that go into running a very active forum with thousands of members. Eventually Tricia decided she needed to take on a partner to help ease the financial and physical burden of running Websleuths alone.
In comes Susan Pruitt, a housewife from Houston, Texas, and wife of a long time Houston attorney. I never met Sue, but my initial interactions with her on the forum gave me pause. I didn't mention this to Tricia because I knew she wouldn't listen, she has zero spidey sense, zilch. Other than the Trayvon Martin case, I never really posted much at Websleuths, I didn't have time, and when I did try to post on other cases, it seemed my opinions needed to mesh with the moderators or I'd be banned...which happened at least 10 times by the time the Trayvon Martin threads were closed down. I know now that some of those bans stemmed from the fact that Tricia and I were friends and that just chapped a couple of the moderators and member's asses. I would rarely take this to Tricia because it would only make matters worse if she tried to intervene. At times I'd be so pissed at being banned over a differing opinion that I did tell her about it, and she ALWAYS took the side of the moderator. As irate and pissed off as that would make me, I eventually let it slide and just stopped posting. This is the saddest part of the lawsuit issue for me - Tricia never failed to tell me what great people these mods were when I would complain, and now most of them have stabbed her almost irreparably in the back.
After I stopped posting at Websleuths I started a blog where I could say what I wanted without having my opinion deleted or myself banned. I was followed to Twitter by a group of "mean girls" who were banned permanently from Websleuths at the same time I left. One moderator quit. The WS mean girls, to this day, have the red ass and they go as far as publishing my personal information and information they gleaned (assumption due to content), from the moderator that quit when they did, and all because I don't agree with their collective opinions. Sue was responsible for all those bans and for the moderator's resignation because she finally saw the damage it was doing to the forum and she was able to make Tricia see it as well. For this, I respected Sue.
Fast forward to a little over a year ago when Sue decided she wanted the forum all for herself. Behind the scenes, and without Tricia's knowledge, Sue went on a smear campaign, eventually filing her frivolous lawsuit. She informed the moderators and the odd person that runs the technical side of the forum that Tricia was embezzling money. Soon Sue was telling anyone who would listen how awful Tricia was and how horribly she, Sue, had been victimized. Sue is so good at lying and manipulation, she ALMOST had me convinced something was going on, almost. One day, out of the blue, I got a call from one of the moderators wanting to talk about the suit and where I thought all the money might be going that Tricia was taking from the Websleuth's bank account. I was floored because I didn't even know there was a lawsuit. The mod directed me to the webpage on the forum where Sue had POSTED the bogus lawsuit and where most of the admins were giving their misinformed and brazenly "snarky" opinions about it.
|Sue Pruitt's post to websleuths informing the members that she had filed suit against her partner|
I can't say a lot more about what was said between myself and Sue in phone calls that followed my discovery of the lawsuit, but suffice it to say, her only goal in filing the suit was to force Tricia to throw her hands up and walk away. Sue figured Tricia didn't have the money to defend herself, which I knew was not a factor - Tricia has never walked away from anything, and she certainly was not going to walk away from a forum that she worked so hard to build. Sue was telling anyone who would listen that Tricia embezzled over $50,000 from the forum's bank account in 2 1/2 years. That amount is LESS than Tricia's mutually agreed upon pull/salary. Of course Sue was not revealing this fact to anyone, including the moderators at Websleuths. She just kept telling them to "trust her", she had proof and it was HUGE. With patience and trust, they waited. Meanwhile Tricia's life was a living hell anytime she tried to do anything on the forum, her own fucking forum.
Soon after the lawsuit a new forum opened up. The mods and other disgruntled sheep followed a woman whose monicker is "raine" to her new forum. Hundreds of posts bashing Tricia - some by an ex-moderator who cowardly posted to strangers what she never had the guts to say to Tricia's face.
|This person was horrible to me on WS, but I'll redact her name anyway|
Tricia and Mark Klaas have been friends for about 20 years. His partner for most of that time is a man named Brad Dennis. Sue Pruitt went as far as phoning Brad to inform him of her suspicion that Tricia was "embezzling" money. I am not sure how much lower a person can go than to ruin a professional working relationship based on zero evidence. Brad Dennis affidavit.
Susan Pruitt's (partial) deposition below. In her deposition she all but confesses she never had a lawsuit to begin with.
Websleuths Moderator Beach comments at Radionewz blog - Beach has since read the deposition and other documents and has finally realized she was taken in by Sue. Tricia has forgiven her and a couple of the other moderators. What I feel is irrelevant, but I am still much on the fence about one of the other mods who betrayed Tricia and who Tricia has forgiven.
I'd even started to wonder if I'd missed something in my friend's personality ... Sue is just that good at manipulation. One night Tricia's blog radio show cut out about ten minutes into broadcasting. I went to the forum to see if there were any posts or updates on the status of the program resuming. What I found were the moderators converging on Tricia and accusing her of lying about the radio show's interruption, insinuating she was only posting about it to try and garner sympathy in the hopes that members would send her money! That was the last straw for me. I absolutely knew better, I was listening when the show cut off. These mods and the IT person, Adnoid (with Tricia for years), were humiliating her in front of her own members, something, by the way, mere mortal members would swiftly be banned for doing. This is the Blog Talk radio thread from that night.
Websleuths can be the "go-to" forum in hot cases for up-to-the-minute information. There are people who post there that would put many investigators to shame. I sincerely hope this lawsuit, and Sue's selfish endeavor to steal the forum from Tricia, does not do unjustified damage to their reputation.
Websleuths in the News
Teleka Patrick Case
Other documents (for a more complete list visit the lawsuit page at Websleuths)
Websleuths Defendants Original Response
Websleuths Motion for Protective Order
Websleuths Plaintiff's Response
Griffith Motion for Summary Judgment
Everything you ever wanted to know about the drama behind the scenes of this lawsuit and a complete list of documents (download required).
Also see posts on my friend Radio's site:
Websleuths Ownersnips and Blatant Threats
A Rogue Bad Apple And A Pied Piper At Websleuths?
Back to basics! Websleuths is about victims and their families
The last link above is written by Websleuths moderator, Nursebeeme. I redacted her name on the following screenshot, but now that I have read her post at Radionewz, I think it is important to reveal her as the author of the post contained within the screenshot. She is upset because Tricia told everyone the truth would come out and that they should all concentrate on the cases Websleuths follows, especially the missing children and adults.
I'm sorry, this is one moderator I'm probably never going to forgive. UPDATE: It seems the comments on Nurse's thread were somehow deleted or lost by a server hic-up, but thanks to quick thinking on the part of this poster, there are screenshots. KoldKase says it all in her reply.
The case is still ongoing, but it is clear Sue wrote a check her ass is never going to be able to cash. As is the case with many rogue members (some now on twitter), and others involved in moderating at Websleuths, Sue resorted to personal affronts and revealing personal information about Tricia in order to try and shut her up -- to make her buckle and walk away. How is that working out for you Sue? This is one thing Tricia has never and would never participate in unless someone was trying to harm the forum, revealing personal information. I know Tricia has information (personal lives), on some of the bullies who relentlessly follow me around on Twitter (she had befriended a few of them), and who have no problem tweeting or re-tweeting my personal information, but she would never reveal who they are or any hint of what she might know (email addresses), that would help me, or anyone else, identify them...and I would never ask.
The same people at Websleuths who were and are wrong about Tricia are the same people who make their minds up about a case there and then dig their feet in, not bending one iota, even once the case is over and they are proven wrong. For me, the second best thing that MIGHT come out of this would be for the staff there to open their minds a bit more on the cases and to stop feeling as if their opinion is the only opinion that could possibly be right.
I'll post any new developments in this case as they happen. Meanwhile, if you are following any of the current criminal cases, there's always crazy good facts being gathered at Websleuths you are likely not to find anywhere else, just don't feel like the Lone Ranger if your opinion differs and you are run out off the forum!
Sue's nic on Websleuths is SoSueMe...
"I have also been told the pied piper of WS is quite litigious. I may find out, huh? LOL! Considering the nic chosen – I suspect this is true. My nic is based on a hobby. Possibly hers is too!" ~ RadioNewz