When did the #Burzynski Clinic start harassing bloggers?

As the Burzynski debacle continues, I started to wonder: Who is Blogger Zero?  Who did Marc Stephens, then under they employ of the Burzynski Clinic, harass first?  You’ve no doubt read by know about his unhinged rantings sent to bloggers, demanding censorship of opinions critical of the Clinic.  Two of the scariest threats were to Andy Lewis, who was told to “think of his family”, and high school prodigy Rhys Morgan, who was sent a google maps picture of his home.

While the clinic has tossed Stephens under the bus, it hasn’t backed away from its implicit threats against UK bloggers.  But Stephens cut his teeth a few weeks earlier than these exchanges.  Last year the Genomic Repairman posted a great article on Burzynski’s hilariously and implausibly named “antineoplastons”.  He has since moved his blog to Scientopia.  Stephens apparently doesn’t know Bora Zivkovic, whose cephalopoid tentacles embrace the entire science blogosphere, and sent a blaringly idiotic letter to Arikia Millikan, the science blogosphere’s putative Number One.  Here’s the first missive fired off to Arikia (near the end of October):

Demand to Cease and Desist and Removal of Webpage/Articles

Hello,

I represent Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, Burzynski Clinic, and Burzynski Research Institute.  It has been brought to our attention that you have content on your websiteshttp://www.labspaces.net/view_blog.php?blogID=304 that is in violation of several state and federal laws.  This is a legal complaint regarding the article you posted online titled “Antineoplastons? You gotta be kidding me!” dated Monday, August 9, 2010.  This correspondence constitutes a demand that you immediately cease and desist in your actions defaming and libeling my clients.  Please allow this correspondence to serve as notice to you that you published libelous and defamatory information.

Please be advised that my clients consider the content of your postings to be legally actionable under numerous legal causes of action, including but not limited to: libel, defamation, and tortious interference with business contracts and business relationships.  The information you assert in your postings is factually incorrect and posted with either actual knowledge, or reckless disregard for its falsity, and with the actual and specific malice to injure my client’s business relationships in the community.

I am not sure if you are familiar with Defamation (Libel).  If not, I will assist you. 
What is Defamation (Libel)
Libel is a published or fixed form of defamation of character; a civil wrong that falsely impugns the reputation or character of a person or entity, opening the target up to public scorn or ridicule. Libel might appear in a magazine, book, newspaper, or in a radio or television broadcast. Signs, billboards or posters can also be mediums for libel. Online libel, or cyber libel takes electronic forms such as email, mailing lists, newsgroups, chat rooms, podcasts, vodcasts and Web pages.  Although many citizens do not yet realize it, comments made to chat boards, newsgroups and even mailing lists are all forms of publication. Criticisms of companies or their goods can be a basis for libel charges if the poster misrepresents facts, or fails to qualify his or her post as opinion.
Every comment you made in your article is highly incorrect.  I suggest you remove the article in its entirety or I will file suit against you immediately.  I find it surprising for you to make careless statements about a documentary that you never watched.  If you would like to find out more information you can watch the Burzynski documentary FREE atwww.burzynskipatientgroup.org.  Please note by law you are held accountable for posting incorrect information from a third party..including from the original source.  I am not sure where you obtained your incorrect information, but you will be held liable for your statements.  REMOVE ARTICLE IMMEDIATELY.

GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.

Sincerely,
Marc Stephens
Burzynski Clinic

9432 Katy Freeway
Houston, Texas 77055

[followed by personal information regarding Arikia’s putative whereabouts]

Arikia replies:

Hello Mr. Stephens,

First of all, I don’t know where you got my contact information, but I am not the author of said post, nor do I have any affiliation with Labspaces.net other than being a reader. Please pay more attention to detail when leveling legal threats.

Secondly, I contacted the Burzynski Clinic, which you claim to represent, and learned that you have no affiliation with said clinic. A simple Google search reveals that you present yourself as a marketing representative of the Burzynski Patient Group, which according to the HR department of the Burzynski Group has no affiliation with the clinic itself, and is merely a website and support group created by former patients. The Burzynski Clinic was not very happy to learn that people outside their organization are representing the clinic without permission.

A bit of unsolicited advice: I would be careful with misrepresenting yourself on behalf of organizations if I were you. There’s something called libel, which, although many citizens do not yet realize it, comments made to chat boards, newsgroups and even mailing lists are all forms of publication that can be taken into account when dealing with libel cases. Criticisms of companies or their goods can be a basis for libel charges if the poster misrepresents facts, or fails to qualify his or her post as opinion.

-Arikia

Interestingly, it appears that Stephens actually was working for Burzynski at that point.

Stephens (picture spittle):

Arikia,
Save the advice.  I am very serious.  We support freedom of speech, but we will not tolerate defamation.  Anyone not cooperating a subpoena will be filed to obtain the rest of your personal information.

Immediately cease and desist from making any further unsupported, defamatory, libelous or harmful statements relating to my clients through any medium, including the Internet.  You are not to post, host, or make available any libelous, false or defamatory statements against my clients via the Internet, television, radio, print or any other forms of media. You shall not create any new alias, nor use any old alias, to post, host, or make available any statement regarding my client via the Internet, television, radio, print or any other forms of media.

Renee [Trimble, Burzynski Clinic’s media guru], if this webpage is re-activated let me know and I will proceed with filing the complaint as well as the subpoena.

Regards,

Marc Stephens

Arikia (laughter, annoyance, and no spittle):

What did you not understand about my email? That is not my website. You made a mistake in your research, which doesn’t surprise me seeing as how you obviously are not a real lawyer. Please don’t involve me further in your emails.

Stephens, perhaps lost in an opaque fog of misdirected rage:

Arikia,
You own a website that the author of the article is involved with, so I thought I would let you know you have a liability on your hands.  I am an attorney if that helps you sleep at night.  Enjoy your day.
Arikia, no longer smiling, wondering why she is answering a sociopath’s email rather than going out for drinks:
No, I do not. You are mistaken. Please stop emailing me.
The emails sent by Stephens were CC’d to other bloggers, and to Renee Trimble, the above-mentioned Clinic media hack.   Stephens does not appear to have been a rogue player but a hired gun sent out to intimidate Burzynski’s critics (as evinced by the Renee dropping Stephens, but not the threats).
Not only is Burzynski practicing (in my opinion) ethically dubious medicine, but his Clinic has supported wackos like Stephens and has continued their attack on free speech.  This is clearly not the end to this story: hopefully it will end when Burzynski finally achieves the status he deserves—a footnote in a medical ethics article.

9 Comments

  1. Karl Withakay

     /  December 1, 2011

    “I suggest you remove the article in its entirety or I will file suit against you immediately.”

    “I am an attorney if that helps you sleep at night. ”

    Interesting; this is the first time I have seen Stephens claim to be an attorney. Has it been determined if this is true or not?

    His correspondence is not remotely consistent with that of being a lawyer, and I would expect he would have clearly identified himself as one in the original email (as well as identifying the name of his firm or identifying himself as official legal in house counsel) if that were the case.

    I believe it is generally against the law to represent one’s self as an attorney (or practice law) if they are not licensed to practice law. If he is not a member of the bar in at least one of the 50 states, he may very well have over-stepped a bit and be guilty of criminal conduct.

    • Jimmy Crookshank

       /  December 1, 2011

      Actually, the Burzynski clinic released a statement from a real lawyer saying that Stephens was a contract-hired marketing person or something. They also released three points that they contest from bloggers. If I remember correctly, it was the status of Burzynski’s supposed PhD, the fact that he no longer uses piss to treat cancer (he now charges $200,000 for phenylacetic acid, which actually sells for about $5/kilogram), and saying that no studies show his garbage works since 2006.. (Although there aren’t any true studies that show it works… ever)

      There’s a great summary of everything Burzynski here:

      http://www.skepticalhealth.com/2011/11/28/antineoplastons/

      • Karl Withakay

         /  December 1, 2011

        Yes, I had heard that, but it’s possible for an attorney to be employed by a marketing firm.

        The point still stands that if Stephens is not a licensed attorney and has claimed to be an attorney as indicated by the quote, he is likely in violation of the law.

        If he is prosecuted, discovery may reveal more details in regards to his engagement by the clinic and what exactly he was authorized to do on their behalf.

    • Stephens is not an attorney, at least not in Texas. Others have searched for him, but no trace of him has been found in the various professional registers for lawyers in that State.

  2. Jenn

     /  December 1, 2011

    I find it interesting that Stephens states he is an attorney in this communication. If this is not true, (and several bloggers have thus far not found any evidence of this person registered with state bar associations), then wouldn’t this be fraud? Also, interesting that Renee Trimble (and thus, the clinic staff) seem to be fully aware of this guy’s actions in October. I think this would come in handy if any actual legal proceedings take place, either here or in the UK; in particular, I think Rhys Morgan’s attorneys would want to know about this.

  3. DLC

     /  December 2, 2011

    Someone should have reminded Burzynski and Stephens of the Streisand Effect.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_Effect

  4. His first recorded attack (AFAIK) on a Burzynski critic dates back to march 2011, where he bullied a cancer survivor on yahoo answers. The bullying was of such a nature, that they were impossible to take serious – see http://anaximperator.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/is-marc-stephens-really-a-representative-of-burzynski/

    I didn’t really believe he was a Burzynski employee until the mail exchange he had with Rhys Morgan was revealed,

  5. Geez. What dirty jerks they are. Well, good thing they’re not _smart_ dirty jerks.

  1. Burzynski blogs: My Master List | Josephine Jones
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