How did I become the target of Nicole Prause? Below the official YBOP press release, I provide details to help readers understand my legal victory and Prause’s 7-year ‘reign of terror’ that led to it. Spoiler alert: She brought this all on herself.
Gary Wilson (Your Brain on Porn) Wins Legal Victory Against Sexologist Nicole Prause’s Efforts to Silence Him
Vocal porn researcher’s attempted restraining order denied as frivolous; must pay substantial attorney fees in a SLAPP ruling.
ASHLAND, OREGON: August 16, 2020: Best-selling author and public health advocate Gary Wilson has won a legal victory against sexology researcher and pornography proponent Nicole Prause. On August 6, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Prause’s attempt to obtain a restraining order against Wilson constituted a frivolous and illegal “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (commonly called a “SLAPP suit”). In essence, the Court found that Prause abused the restraining order process to bully Wilson into silence and undercut his rights to free speech. By law, the SLAPP ruling obligates Prause to pay Wilson’s attorney fees.
Wilson is the author of the best selling book Your Brain On Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction, presenter of the immensely popular TEDx talk “The Great Porn Experiment,” (13+ million views) and host of the website www.YourBrainOnPorn.com, a clearinghouse for the latest research, media, and self-reports on pornography’s effects and harms. Wilson has long critiqued Prause’s published research and public statements about pornography use.
“It is ironic that the porn industry cloaks itself in First Amendment protections while porn proponents like Nicole Prause attempt to limit and silence criticism about the well-documented risks of porn’s harm to its users and to the public,” Wilson said after the Court ruling. “This is another important victory over the defamation and harassment endured by advocates who dare to speak publicly about porn’s harms.“
The legal victory comes on the heels of a complaint against UK-based SCRAM Media for publishing a story falsely claiming that Prause had received “death threats” as the consequence of a crowdfunding campaign by NoFap host, Alex Rhodes. According to a UK press release, the SCRAM story falsely stated that NoFap and Rhodes affiliated themselves with right-wing extremists (including anti-Semites); incited extremists to harass Prause; conducted a crowdfund that led to Prause being stalked; and filed a frivolous lawsuit in US Federal Court in order to stymie Prause’s academic research. When presented with evidence disproving those claims, SCRAM retracted the article, paid Rhodes substantial damages and legal costs, and apologized publicly, before shutting down entirely.
Prause is being sued in two unrelated federal civil lawsuits accusing her of making knowingly false and damaging statements about people who have raised concerns about internet porn: Donald L. Hilton, Jr. v. Nicole Prause, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Texas San Antonio Division, Case No. 5: 19-CV-00755-OLG; and Alexander Rhodes v. Nicole Prause, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 2:19-cv-01366. In those cases, the plaintiffs allege Prause made untrue, defamatory statements accusing them of stalking, sexual harassment, and antisemitism, and claiming they were under investigation by law enforcement and professional licensing bodies. In each case, numerous men and women have come forward with sworn statements that Prause has also targeted them: affidavit #1, affidavit #2, affidavit #3, affidavit #4, affidavit #5, affidavit #6, affidavit #7, affidavit #8, affidavit #9, affidavit #10, affidavit #11, affidavit #12, affidavit #13, affidavit #14, affidavit #15, affidavit #16.
EMAIL: [email protected]
Main article: Details related to Prause’s attempted restraining order and my successful SLAPP suit
When I say an entire book could be filled with Prause’s egregious actions I am not exaggerating. While only the tip of the Prause iceberg, the 4 main pages documenting Prause egregious actions page 1, page 2, page 3, and page 4) fill over 2,000 pages when copied and pasted into a Word document. Suffice it to say, we can only touch on a few relevant highlights – just enough so the reader can understand the primary reason why Prause has been so hell-bent on taking down YBOP.
Never heard of Prause until David Ley and she published a March, 2013 Psychology Today blog post targeting me and my website (YBOP)
Before March 6th, 2013 I had never heard of Nicole Prause. On that fateful day, David Ley and Nicole Prause teamed up to write a Psychology Today blog post targeting me and and my website “Your Brain on Porn – It’s NOT Addictive.” Its oh-so-catchy title is misleading as it had nothing to do with Your Brain on Porn or the neuroscience presented here. Instead, the Ley/Prause blog limited itself to a deceitful portrayal of Prause’s then unpublished EEG study – Steele et al., 2013. Ley’s blog post appeared 5 months before Prause’s EEG study was formally published. Ley & Prause’s blog linked to my website and suggested that I was in favor of banning porn (untrue).
Prause’s carefully orchestrated PR campaign resulted in worldwide media coverage with all the headlines claiming that sex addiction had been debunked(!). A few days later I posted a short Psychology Today blog post raising questions about the content of the David Ley post (the original blog posts are archived here).
Prause has yet to refute a single word of my March, 2013 Psychology Today post, or the critique I wrote in July after her EEG study finally was published. Nor has Prause refuted a single word of the 8 peer-reviewed critiques of Steele et al. which expose the Ley/Prause blog post as fiction and Prause’s EEG results as actually consistent with the addiction model.
On April 10, 2013 a petulant Prause initiated contact, then accused my wife and me of stalking her
On April 10th, Prause initiated her only contact with me in 2 emails and a comment under my Psychology Today response. Simultaneously, she contacted Psychology Today editors, who forwarded her second email. The following 2 emails are from the end of our brief exchange (PDF of Prause & Wilson’s entire email exchange):
As you can see, Prause is accusing my wife and me of stalking her, although all I did was respond to two emails she sent my way. This was the starting point for Prause’s fabricated, never-ending “stalking” claims.
Three months later, immediately after I published my critique of Steele et al., 2013, Prause initiated her public “Gary Wilson is a stalker” campaign. She created numerous aliases to defame and harass me, including two YouTube channels: GaryWilson Stalker and GaryWilson IsAFraud. A screenshot of my YouTube inbox from July 26, 2013 reveals Prause’s obsessive cyberstalking:
Below is just one example of dozens posted during this period. As usual Prause’s aliases accuse Gary Wilson of “stalking a female scientist”:
As it turns out, I was not the only one to be honored with her false stalking accusations. Over the next several years Prause falsely accused numerous individuals and organizations of stalking, sexual harassment, and sending death or rape threats.
In this way, Prause carefully crafted a mythology of her victimhood, although she was the perpetrator bent on destroying others’ lives. While Prause had defamed Alex Rhodes and Don Hilton for years, both drew the line at her false accusations of stalking and sexual harassment. Two Federal defamation suits against Prause followed – Donald Hilton, MD and Nofap founder Alexander Rhodes.
The intensity of Prause’s defamation and cyberstalking grows exponentially, forcing me to create a record
During her brief time at UCLA Prause employed dozens of fake usernames to harass and defame me on porn recovery forums, Quora, Wikipedia, and in the comment sections under articles. Prause rarely used her real name or her own social media accounts (PDF of Nicole Prause aliases she used to harass and defame). That all changed after UCLA chose not to renew Prause’s contract (she appears to have packed up her desk around January, 2015).
Freed from any oversight and now self-employed, Prause added two media managers/promoters/branding experts from Media 2×3 to her company’s tiny stable of “Collaborators.” At this same time, Prause began openly flaunting her cozy relationship with many in the porn industry.
Examples include Prause’s (1) direct social-media support for the FSC, AVN, XBIZ, xHamster and PornHub, (2) accepting “assistance” from Free Speech Coalition (and immediately attacking Prop 60), (3) the Free Speech Coalition allegedly providing subjects for a Prause study she claims will “debunk” porn addiction, and (4) attending porn industry awards (XRCO, AVN-sponsored events).
In 2016, in her boldest move up to that point, Prause created the “PornHelps” website & social media accounts to serve the porn industry. (Within a few days of this tweet and a Psychology Today comment exposing Prause as “PornHelps,” the @pornhelps Twitter and PornHelps website vanished without a trace.)
As a darling of the porn industry, Prause began putting her name to falsehoods, and openly cyber-harassing multiple individuals and organizations on social media and elsewhere. At the time, I was the primary target of Prause’s hundreds of social media comments along with behind-the-scenes email campaigns.
Within a short time she targeted others, including researchers, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, a former UCLA colleague, a UK charity, men in recovery, a TIME magazine editor, several professors, IITAP, SASH, Fight The New Drug, Exodus Cry, NoFap.com, RebootNation, YourBrainRebalanced, the academic journal Behavioral Sciences, its parent company MDPI, US Navy medical doctors, the head of the academic journal CUREUS, and the journal Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity (See – Numerous Victims of Nicole Prause’s Malicious Reporting and Malicious Use of Process).
While spending her waking hours harassing and defaming, Prause cleverly continued to cultivate – with zero verifiable evidence – the myth that she was “the victim” of most anyone who dared to disagree with her assertions surrounding porn’s effects or the current state of porn research. To counter the ongoing harassment and false claims, I was compelled to document Prause’s tweets, posts and activities on the following pages. This was done for her victims’ protection, and crucial for any future legal actions. (Additional incidents have occurred that we are not at liberty to divulge – as Prause’s victims fear further retribution, and no doubt still others occurred that we will never know.)
- Nicole Prause’s Unethical Harassment and Defamation of Gary Wilson & Others
- Nicole Prause’s Unethical Harassment and Defamation of Gary Wilson & Others (Page 2)
- Nicole Prause’s Unethical Harassment and Defamation of Gary Wilson & Others (Page 3)
- Nicole Prause’s Unethical Harassment and Defamation of Gary Wilson & Others (Page 4)
These pages exposing the truth were the bane of Prause’s existence, as they crack the illusion of her carefully curated public image as a courageous victim of stalking, rape, and now, death threats. What’s next?
Prause multi-pronged campaign to remove the damning evidence of her harassment, defamation and cyberstalking
Prause explored multiple avenues in her determination to have the above pages removed (or YBOP shut down) in order to bury evidence of her egregious behavior.
For example, in 2018, Prause filed 3 bogus, and unsuccessful, DMCA take-downs with YBOP’s webhost, seeking to have screenshots of her own defamatory tweets removed. A DMCA takedown notice is used to have copyrighted materials removed from a website. Prause filed a DMCA takedown as a backdoor way to have the pages chronicling her harassment and defamation removed or gutted. All 3 attempts were rebuffed as tweets are not copyrighted material.
When the baseless DMCAs failed, Prause attempted to shut down YBOP by filing a trademark application to obtain my URL (yourbrainonporn.com) and my trademark (Your Brain On Porn). With control of the URL, she could have shut down my entire site. A screenshot of Prause’s USPTO application (January 29, 2019):
Prause’s trademark application forced me into expensive legal battles with her (8-page cease & desist letter to Nicole Prause – May 1, 2019). Only when it was time to proceed in Federal court did she drop her trademark application (October, 2019).
In April of 2019, Prause and Daniel Burgess launched a trademark infringing site (realyourbrainonporn.com). The imposter site employed many tactics calculated to confuse the public. For example, the new site attempted to trick visitors, with the center of each page declaring “Welcome to the REAL Your Brain On Porn,” while the tab falsely proclaimed “Your Brain On Porn.”
To advertise the illegitimate site, Prause also created a Twitter account, YouTube channel, Facebook page, all employing the words “Your Brain On Porn.” Tweets of the URL feature “Your Brain On Porn” and “YBOP” in the first line, confusing those who discover it in error. In a further attempt to confuse the public, the press release announcing the infringing site falsely claims to originate from my hometown – Ashland, Oregon. Prause, as manager of RealYBOP Twitter, regularly engages in defamation and harassment of me, Alexander Rhodes, Gabe Deem, NCOSE, Laila Mickelwait, Gail Dines, and anyone else who speaks out about porn’s harms. The legal battles continue.
In a startling “coincidence,” Prause’s legal counsel for the trademark disputes is Wayne B. Giampietro, one of the primary lawyers defending Backpage.com. Backpage was shut down by the federal government “for its willful facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution.” (See this USA Today article: 93-count indictment on sex trafficking charges revealed against Backpage founders).
Prause enters the California “Safe At Home Program” under false pretenses to trick the California attorney general’s office into helping her try to take down YBOP’s “Prause pages”
Within weeks of dropping her malicious trademark application, Prause entered the California “Safe At Home Program” under false pretenses, misusing it to harass her victims and trick the California Attorney General into a fraudulent attempt to remove YBOP’s Prause pages.
On November 19, 2019 Prause turned to threatening YBOP’s webhost Linode with a bogus cease & desist letter, again signed by sex-industry lawyer Wayne Giampietro. Misusing the California “Safe At Home Program”, Prause’s Cease & Desist letter falsely claimed her address is on YBOP (it wasn’t). Linode never informed me about Prause’s unfounded C&D letter because they had no reason to act on it (Prause provided no URLs or screenshots). Instead, the C&D was forwarded to me from the owner of a YouTube channel whom Prause had successfully silenced with empty legal threats based on false assertions that YBOP (to which he linked) contained her home address.
Rebuffed by Linode, Prause tried a second C&D, this time directly enlisting the California Attorney General to assist her under false pretenses (January 29, 2020). Once again, Linode confirmed that YBOP had not published Prause’s address (as before, Prause failed to provide any URLs of pages containing her address).
When Prause doubled down, I exposed her lies with this article. She responded by calling the Ashland Police department here in OR and filing for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in Los Angeles Superior Court
When the California AG couldn’t locate her address on YBOP, Prause resorted to badgering my local police (Ashland, Oregon) to take action against me (February 12, 2020). The officer determined that Prause’s assertions did not allege a crime (in any case, her home address was not on YBOP) and that this was a civil disagreement. He declined to act.
On the same day, Prause then publicly announced she was seeking a restraining order against me, and did so ex parte (without having to notify me, so no service):
You can always tell when Prause is lying, as she cannot provide a screenshot or link that remotely supports her claims. Prause’s earlier tweets expose her as lying. In fact, she herself publicly boasted that no one has ever posted her home address because she has posted only fake addresses on the internet:
The above is nothing less than Prause gleefully admitting she lied to the California Attorney General that she was “unsafe,” and attempting to bolster her malicious restraining order.
The judge denied the February 13th temporary restraining order (TRO) as it lacked evidence that I was a threat, and set a hearing for a regular restraining order on March 6, 2020. Perpetuating her faux victimhood, Prause falsely claims the judge felt I needed to address my stalking:
I did not attend a mediation. It was optional and I declined.
Once again, I was forced to hire lawyers to deal with Prause’s misuse of the legal system. To everyone’s surprise, the second judge, instead of dismissing the entire matter, continued the hearing until March 25, 2020 so Prause could actually serve me. Then COVID-19 hit.
Prause fabricates all her so-called “evidence,” which included doxxing and defaming my son
In Prause’s request for the restraining order she perjured herself, saying I posted her address on YBOP and Twitter (perjury is nothing new with Prause). In the tallest of tales, Prause claimed I was dangerous because my adult son and I were “gun enthusiasts” who had “nothing to lose.”
She purported to “prove” this by including an old photo of my son (taller man) and a young man of Asian decent posing with guns. Prause claimed the shorter, 20-something young man was me! Prause deliberately misled the court.
The above is one of three pictures of my son Prause inserted into her lie-filled restraining order request. Prause searched through my son’s private Facebook to locate any picture she could misconstrue.
The truth: Neither I nor my son owned guns. The above picture is from 2014, and was taken at a peace-officer weapons locker by a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy (for the 2 young men to use as a meme generator). It was a joke. As explained in his affidavit (below) my son had spent several months working with the California Department of Justice, building new IT technology to assist the Gang Suppression Unit with their duties. As my son stated in his sworn affidavit, the other person was an intern at the tech company.
This gross misrepresentation, acquired via cyberstalking my son, is a perfect example of how Nicole Prause fabricates her so-called “evidence.”
Prause provides no verifiable evidence to support her other claim: that I posted her address on YBOP
Prause’s other main assertion is that I placed her home address on YBOP. Not so. Her home address has never been on YBOP. Did Prause’s TRO contain a screenshot or a URL to support this assertion? No. Only an email from a Liberos board member (Prause’s company), and collaborator on Prause’s controversial Orgasmic Meditation studies, Greg Siegle:
Why can’t Siegle or Prause provide a screenshot or URL to support their assertion? Because both are lying. It never ceases to amaze me how Prause hypnotizes her buddies to lie for her.
Unlike Siegle and Prause, I have hard evidence. I submitted this email from my web host confirming that Prause failed to provide any actionable requests (i.e. URLs of pages allegedly containing her address). Put simply, Prause lied in her TRO: Her home address was never on YBOP.
The rest of her claims were equally unfounded.
She claimed that I have a second Twitter account that actively reveals her home address, and that her home address and pictures are on my website. As usual, she provided no screenshots or URLs to support her allegations. That’s because both claims are false, although images of many of her tweets (some with her smiling face) are indeed on YBOP, as that is how I document her ongoing malicious activity. I assume members of the public may be interested in evidence that points to her potential bias and close ties to the porn industry. Her tweets are public. Below, I provide PDFs of documents filed in my opposition to Prause’s initial Restraining Order request:
- Gary Wilson’s 89-page response to Nicole Prause’s baseless TRO
- Linode email confirming Prause lied about her address being on YBOP
- Gary Wilson son’s declaration (redacted)
With the lies in her original TRO exposed, Prause’s July 2020 declaration places all its eggs into the “Germany basket“
With the “evidence” in her original TRO exposed as fabrications, Prause’s July 2020 declaration (prepared for the August 6th hearing) spun a new tale surrounding my 2018 trip to Germany to attend the 5th International Conference on Behavioral Addictions (ICBA). Prause committed perjury in her TRO declaration, falsely claiming she was a scheduled presenter for the ICBA, and that I traveled to Germany solely to “confront her.” Nonsense, and yet much of Prause’s opposition to my anti-SLAPP now hinged on this single assertion.
Here is one of 5 excerpts from her July declaration referring to my trip to Germany:
The sentence following her Germany claim is very telling: “Whether that is true or not.” Let me help: It’s not true. Important to note that my Germany trip was “the basis of Prause’s current request for relief.” If any part of Prause’s Germany story is debunked, her entire case falls apart like Humpty-Dumpty. Again, this carefully worded suggestion is the only “evidence” Prause’s lawyer dared to supply:
Subsequently, Prause has encountered several incidents where she believed she was being surveilled at home or work by an unidentified man. Whether that is true or not, the basis of Prause’s current request for relief is the manifestation of the ongoing feud into the threat of physical confrontation.
I knew this was bunkum so I asked ICBA organizers to confirm that Prause was never asked to present and was never registered for the conference. Their letter confirming that Prause perjured herself:
Caught in yet another lie.
Just for the record, Prause has never attended or been invited to present at an ICBA conference. Prause doesn’t believe in behavioral addictions. Throughout her entire career Prause has waged a war against the concept of behavioral addiction, especially sex and porn addiction.
Prause brought this legal outcome upon herself (even her lawyer tried to quit because she attempted to force him to behave unethically)
Anyone can file a restraining order without even paying a filing fee. In other words, it was a very cost-effective way to attempt to add credibility to the smear campaign that she and her chums have been pursuing. I believe it was, in part, an attempt to suppress my speech as she hoped I’d be unable to defend myself. She had initially told the judge I was indigent (“had nothing to lose”) in her TRO request. She may have assumed I was indigent because, despite having abundant good cause, I had never filed a defamation suit against her. I didn’t want to waste my time.
I believe her restraining order attempt was also an attempt to discredit me as a witness in the two defamation suits others have filed against Prause. It failed, and has now further discredited her instead. What goes around….
As stated above, the initial judge denied Prause a temporary restraining order in February, 2020, when she filed it without notice to me. This was a loud signal to her that she had a weak case. Denial of the TRO meant that Prause had to inform me about the restraining order, and it was set for an initial hearing (which led to a second hearing, as Prause still had not served me properly).
For the next 3 months, Prause could have dropped the restraining order with no repercussions to herself, and I would have been stuck with my attorney fees without much recourse. In June, partly to avoid being in Prause’s presence at the hearing scheduled for July, and partly in response to being unjustly accused of having threatened by her in order to suppress my voice, I filed an anti-SLAPP motion to have the restraining order dropped. At that point, she could only go forward. Court documents filed in my anti-SLAPP motion:
- Gary Wilson’s Anti-SLAPP – Notice of Motion to Strike Restraining Order (May 14, 2020)
- Staci Sprout declaration for Gary Wilson
- Alex Rhodes declaration for Gary Wilson
I filed my motion in part because Prause had begun slapping baseless small claims court ‘defamation’ suits on people, which require defendants to be served in CA. I was confident that she would serve me with one of her nuisance small claims court suits if I came to CA to testify for the restraining order hearing.
As it turns out, the judge combined the two matters, and both Prause and I were able to participate remotely (due to Covid 19). This spared me from going anywhere near her, thankfully. Perhaps its evident that, far from physically threatening her, I’ve been assiduously avoiding her presence. My August 5th, court filings responding to Prause’s July 29 declaration:
- Gary Wilson’s declaration (August 5, 2020)
- Gary Wilson’s point by point reply to Nicole Prause (August 5, 2020)
- Gary Wilson’s evidentiary objections: almost all were sustained (August 5, 2020)
- Declaration to be Relieved as Nicole Prause’s Counsel (her lawyer said Prause was trying to force him to engage in unethical behavior)
Shortly before the August 6 hearing, her own attorney tried unsuccessfully to withdraw from representing her. One of his reasons, according to his Declaration, was that she was attempting to force him to behave unethically, that is, to do something he could not do in good faith. We know from his filed document seeking a continuance that she had tried to make him submit a lot of inadmissible “evidence” (likely in the form of letters from her friends, and unsupported accusations), so we suspect he was referring to this.
Her attorney also asked to withdraw because she was apparently threatening him with suit because he wouldn’t do her bidding. He stated that communications with Prause had irretrievably broken down. This occurred after he filed her reply to my anti-SLAPP motion (and there was no further legal work to be done short of the hearing itself).
The judge decided not to delay the hearing, and Prause was represented by the firm’s of-counsel attorney, who did an excellent job on her behalf – although he had little to work with by the time all the evidentiary objections were dealt with. (The judge in the Alex Rhodes defamation lawsuit recently chided Prause for her “dilatory conduct and obfuscation”).
Prior to the hearing, Prause went on Twitter to announce that she had a “protective order” against me, inciting her devoted followers to cyber-stalk me:
Yet another lie of astonishing proportions. And not one that most judges would take kindly to.
Incidentally, in order to grant my anti-SLAPP motion, the judge had to find (1) that her restraining order was unlikely to succeed on its merits, and (2) that it was, in fact, an attempt to suppress my rights to speak out on a matter of public interest.
The bottom line is that Prause brought the anti-SLAPP motion loss upon herself by filing, and then not dropping, her baseless restraining order against me. She clinched it by threatening her own attorney and by announcing prematurely that she had won. Once again, she was the perpetrator not the victim.
The legal system is not social media, and the fabricated “evidence” and false accusations that she and her cronies disperse in the court of public opinion do not fly in real courts. This is why SCRAM lost when it printed her lies, and it does not bode well for her chances in either of the two defamation suits against her.
Update – yet another person has sued Prause for defamation: