This past Sunday, The New York Times published a complaint sent in from anti-Amanda Knox blogger Peggy Ganong, criticizing the publication of a interview with Amanda Knox. In the interview Knox expresses her love for literature and highlights her favorite books. It is highly likely that most readers viewed the interview as timely and appropriate due to the recent release of Knox’s best selling book “Waiting to Be Heard,” but Ganong views it differently.
I am appalled that Amanda Knox is the featured “writer” (with one co-written book to her name!) in your By the Book column (May 12). Has it escaped your notice that Knox was convicted of defamation, a criminal charge, in Italy — a conviction that was upheld — for falsely accusing an innocent man of murdering Meredith Kercher? In addition, Knox’s acquittal was recently annulled, which places her back where she was in 2009: convicted in the first instance of murdering Kercher. Last time I checked, Italy was a sovereign nation. There is no reason to act as if its system of justice does not exist or does not matter. It matters to the victim’s family and to the citizens of Italy.
MARGARET GANONG, Seattle
Margaret “Peggy” Ganong is the owner and operator of a website titled “Perugia Murder File” (PMF). Ganong and her followers claim to be an online community devoted to truth and justice for Meredith Kercher.
Meredith Kercher was murdered by Rudy Guede in Perugia Italy, November 1, 2007. Guede is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence for the crime.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were wrongfully convicted for Kercher’s murder in December of 2009 and were both acquitted on appeal in October of 2011. In March of this year, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito, sending the case back to the appellate level to review currently unknown aspects of the case. The court has 90 days from the date of the ruling to release a motivation document detailing what specifics of the case they want reviewed.
Ganong’s claim that Knox merely co-authored her memoir is false and she also presents a slanted view of the current status of the case. This is no surprise when you consider the source.
The headline “Against Amanda” chosen by The New York Times describes Ganong’s position well. Ganong has spent nearly 6 years displaying a disturbing obsession with Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and their supporters, with Knox being Ganong’s main target. Ganong’s odd behavior has caused her to come under scrutiny. Ganong has shown herself to be sensitive to this criticism, by lashing out at those who highlight her activities.
Ganong’s site has recently received a face-lift in an obvious attempt to change its image. The site’s new tagline “Placing Meredith First,” along with a new image of Meredith prominently displayed on the website’s header, work to give readers the impression that the site’s intentions are noble. Unfortunately that is not the case. A quick look at Ganong’s discussion forum shows a different story entirely. It is quite obvious that spewing hatred is the main focus of Ganong’s group, not preserving the memory of Meredith Kercher.
You would think that a group dedicated to a murder victim would look for ways to keep the victim’s memory alive such as setting up a college fund or starting a charity to help victims of violence. To this day, Ganong’s group has done absolutely nothing of the sort. There is a section on her website titled “Projects for Meredith” that remained empty for years. Not one member in Ganong’s group has ever been able to think of anything they could do to honor the person they claim to gather for. Unfortunately the core members of the group show far more interest in attacking strangers than showing support for any worthwhile cause. Interestingly, as part of PMF’s facelift, Ganong has now filled the failed projects section with translated documents.
To be fair, Ganong’s site does show support for a cause by providing a link to the Kercher Family’s website “The Meredith Kercher Fund,” created by Meredith’s family in 2012. Ganong’s group has no association with the fund and has shown no independent effort to help the Kerchers other than posting a link on their website. The Kerchers have never mentioned Peggy Ganong or her website and have never publicly claimed to have any association with Ganong. When looking at Ganong’s behavior, keeping their distance, at least in the public’s view, is a good idea.
Ganong is not alone in her mission. She works hand in hand with another anti-Knox blogger named Peter Quennell. Quennell is the owner and operator of a website titled “True Justice For Meredith Kercher.” Quennell spends his days fantasizing about Knox’s supporters being rounded up and thrown in Italian prisons. Quennell has shown himself to be nothing more than a raving lunatic. Lately his posts will appear for a short time before being deleted, making it look as if someone is trying to keep him under control. Here is an example of one of Quennell’s rants that appeared briefly on his website:
“Breaking news. Complaints about Curt Knox’s man Bruce Fischer over his reign of terror against reporters and posters who disagree with his claims, and his multiple false accusations of crimes against judges, prosecutors and police working in two crime areas (MOF and Meredith’s murder), are to be the subject of an official investigation. Serial contempt of court can incur extradition and as much as ten years.”
Here Quennell suggests that award winning author Candace Dempsey could face legal trouble for merely reporting on an Italian article. It is even more laughable that Quennell suggests that Dempsey should have posted the ridiculous suggestions from his website:
“One of the PR shills, Candace Dempsey, has apparently posted that Mignini is “litigious” and simply reposted the Oggi piece in full without posting any of the 20 factual corrections in the post just below.”
“Dempsey absolutely fails to understand what is contempt of court. Even the US First Amendment does not give a licence to defame. Dempsey’s blog like Fischer’s is riddled with contempt of court stuff, in an illegal attempt to make hostile American public opinion lean on the Italian court.”
Ganong and her followers must know that Quennell’s rants are illogical, but there is absolutely no effort to correct anything he says. Quennell’s claims against Candace and I are baseless. Our work is not “riddled with contempt of court stuff” and nothing we have written is “illegal.” Who knows what Quennell will dream up next.
Ganong and Quennell both use their websites to push out faux experts in an attempt to support their baseless attacks. It takes very little research to discover that their “experts” are complete frauds. One of these faux experts, Laura Wray, posted on the anti-Knox sites proclaiming to be a forensic expert when in reality she works in the fashion industry. Here are a few more fraudulent characters that have been placed on pedestals by Ganong and Quennell.
A guy named Peter Hyatt created a blog under the name Seamus O’Riley, in which he claims to be able to determine guilt or deception by reading the statements of others. He states on his blog that he determined that Amanda was guilty, just by reading her written statements. He also claims that he can determine that FBI Agent Steve Moore is deceptive in his support for Knox’s innocence. He is described in various places on the internet as an investigator for the State of Maine who works with police departments in criminal investigations.
Of course the anti-Knox sites support Hyatt, and are more than happy to promote his work. The truth is Hyatt is a complete fraud. He does not have a degree in statement analysis. Actually, his degree is in Bible Studies and he teaches guitar lessons to children. He does not work at the “Laboratory for Statement Analysis for Scientific Interrogations” in Maine as he claims. In fact, there is no such laboratory in the state of Maine. Hyatt is not an expert and is not involved with any law enforcement agency.
Besides statement analysis, the anti-Knox sites also promoted a “psychologist” named Ellie Ewing. Ewing created a blog titled “Lies My Mother Told Me” in which she discussed the Amanda Knox case while representing herself as a psychologist with “many years of experience.” She ironically referred to herself as “Miss Represented” on her blog while using her false credentials to provide analysis of Knox‘s behavior in court.
The truth is Ewing had no clinical psychology experience and no credentials as a psychologist, which requires an advanced degree, at the time of her writing.
When Ewing‘s lies were exposed she quickly took her blog offline saying that she was no longer involved with the case. To this day Ganong’s website has never acknowledged that Ewing was a fraud even though the proof is now very clear.
Unfortunately the attacks from Ganong’s followers are not limited to pushing out false information and contributing to anger filled rants on her website. Ganong’s group actively attempts to adversely affect the lives of those who disagree with their views.
Michael Krom is a professor at Leeds University. Meredith Kercher had attended Leeds University before going to Perugia to further her studies. Krom has been an active supporter of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. His voice was heard in Italy when he was quoted by Oggi magazine.
A PMF poster named Zorba wrote a long letter to the Vice Chancellor and several other higher ups in Leeds University calling for disciplinary proceedings against Krom. Zorba‘s letter prompted the university secretary to write a short note to Krom stating that he was not speaking on behalf of the university but rather as a private individual. The secretary included the fact that professors at the university are free to express their views.
Michael Krom was not deterred by the failed attempt to adversely affect his employment and has never toned down his support. He has been in close contact with Raffaele Sollecito and has been active in helping Sollecito get a fresh start.
Michael Wiesner is a grade school teacher in Hawaii that found himself on the anti-Knox group’s radar when Injustice in Perugia posted a video that he and his class created about the Amanda Knox case. Wiesner used the case as a case study in his classroom allowing his students to debate the issues and to design presentations detailing their views.
Shortly after Wiesner’s video was posted, The anti-Knox group launched an all-out attack on him and his school. Attempts were made to contact students in his class, the address of the school was posted online, and a photo of the school‘s principal was posted on Quennell’s website.
Retired FBI Agent Steve Moore has been heavily targeted by Ganong’s group for speaking on behalf of Knox and Sollecito. Even worse, his family has come under attack. Steve’s daughter had her Facebook account cloned in an attempt to impersonate her online. Letters were also sent to Steve‘s former employer in an attempt to interfere with his employment. One conversation on PMF regarding Steve Moore‘s past in infiltrating a white supremacist group highlighted just how ridiculous Ganong and her group can be. During that conversation, Ganong actually insinuated that Steve might be a white supremacist himself. When later questioned about her comment, she stood by her statement.
In addition to her aggressive attacks, Ganong appears to be a compulsive liar. In one example, Ganong bragged on her website that she scoped out the Knox family home. When questioned about driving by the Knox home, Ganong claimed that she just happened to pass by the house on the way to another destination. If that was the case, why did she count their shrubs to see how much the Knox family may or may not have spent on landscaping?
In another example, Ganong fabricated a story saying that a supporter of Amanda Knox harassed her and her family at a memorial service for one of her relatives. Here is an excerpt from her website:
“I wasn’t going to mention this, but a few weeks ago I attended a memorial service for someone to whom I am related by marriage (common-law marriage but it is a union that has lasted for 25 years and I consider my common law sister-in-law as family) and was surprised to see an FOA activist in attendance. This person did not know the deceased, though he knows and works for some people she knew, and was not invited. This person sat down two tables from me and seemed to be filming the whole time with a digital camera. I did not speak to this person. I got a call from my family members later in the evening, telling me that after I left, the FOA [Friends of Amanda] enthusiast actually approached someone in my family, asked him if he knew about his relationship with me, and proceeded to ramble on about PMF, TJMK, Amanda Knox, etc. until my family member stopped him and said “this is neither the time nor the place for this conversation.”
“I felt bad for my brother and his wife: he had just lost a wonderful mother-in-law and she had just lost a wonderful mum. How anyone could approach them under the circumstances to spout incomprehensible acronyms and refer to a “relationship” with me is beyond my comprehension. And I still don’t understand the presence of a camera. This event was not held in a church, but it was a memorial for someone who had died. When was the last time you or anyone saw someone snapping pictures or filming in such a context?”
Ganong was completely dishonest when she claimed that a Friends of Amanda (FOA) member harassed her and her family with a video camera at a memorial. The person she is referring to was hired by the family to photograph and take video. He is also not a member of FOA. He asked Ganong’s brother one question about the case because he knew Ganong ran a website about the topic. Ganong took one question from a photographer and spun it into an egregious lie.
In another act of dishonesty, Ganong repeatedly attempts to discredit the support that Knox receives and she encourages her followers to do the same. One of her group‘s favorite tactics has been to exaggerate the scope of the PR firm hired by Knox’s parents. The truth is that Knox‘s parents hired a company to organize interviews with the press. They had every right to publicly defend their daughter. They did absolutely nothing wrong by hiring a firm to help them with a situation that was very new to them.
Ganong did not create the PR myth but she campaigns heavily to keep it alive, often claiming the Knox family has spent an estimated 2 million dollars on PR. When questioned about her claims, Ganong admits to having no proof that the Knox family has spent any money at all on PR, admitting her outrageous claims are just a guess.
Ganong‘s most despicable act has been to openly encourage her followers to attack Amanda Knox‘s family. Photos of the family are often posted on Ganong’s website with disparaging captions. One comment fuels the next with each poster trying to outdo the other. Knox’s parents are a constant focus of their attacks. Shortly before the end of the appeal, a poster named Emerald made this comment about Amanda‘s step father, Chris Mellas:
“It’s past the point of utterly loathsome that Chris has moved away from his wife to be close to her grown daughter. Creepy. Makes me want to puke thinking about it.”
This was a deeply offensive comment but it was not surprising to see that Emerald‘s statement was well received by Ganong’s followers. Ganong is the chief moderator of her website and she saw nothing wrong with the statement. In fact she posted on the same thread shortly after Emerald‘s comment appeared and said nothing about it.
A PMF member named Macport made a photo collage of Amanda‘s sister Deanna crying at different stages of the trial simply to mock her. Other posters are critical of her outfits and cannot resist ridiculing her when she gives interviews. No matter what your opinion is of Amanda Knox, why attack her sister?
It has been bad enough to see the adults in Amanda‘s family targeted but it was beyond repulsive to see both of Amanda‘s youngest sisters also being harassed over the years. Photos of the two are posted on Ganong‘s website and members of the group, such as Julia Perez (Jools), a cyberstalking PMF member from Spain, even made efforts to view their Facebook accounts. When questioned about this behavior the group claimed to be looking out for the children’s safety. Two PMF members, Windfall and Earthling, suggested that the girls were “acting” when they showed emotion for their older sister. Ganong defends these actions by claiming that her members have the right to express free speech.
Another intriguing aspect of Ganong’s group has been the disturbing obsession with sex seen in their daily conversation, attempting to paint Amanda’s supporters as middle-aged men that only support Amanda because they are sexually attracted to her. Here are a few quotes from Ganong’s website:
“All are middle-aged men driven by fantasies of recapturing lost youth, being a hero and carrying the damsel in distress off into the sunset.”
“those middle aged one hand typists who spend their sleepless nights imagining romantic interludes with Amanda.”
“seriously sick, pitifully perverted, lust aided attraction that some bored middle aged males with keyboards, have for a unanimously convicted, justly incarcerated young female”
The group even suggested that Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales became interested in the Amanda Knox case because he was looking to have sex with Knox:
“I don’t see the pay-off in the end. Right now, Jimbo is on the verge of losing any sense of respect as a new media entrepreneur (lying about his checkuser results, for example) just for a chance to catch a peek of some tender young sex killer flesh.”
“Jimbo is precisely the profile of the aging Lothario looking for access to tail through his powerful media connections. He isn’t thinking with his correct head and everything he’s proposed is straight out of the FOA manual.”
“Somebody should give Jimbo a cold shower. He’s really lathered up and ready for brunette sex killer action”
Ganong should have been ashamed to be part of that conversation, but as chief moderator of her website, she not only endorsed the dialogue but joined in with a zinger of her own:
“In all seriousness, what is it with these wiki guys and their wicks?”
Some will argue that Ganong’s website is showing respect for Meredith by actively campaigning to make sure justice is properly served. If this is their goal, they should spend far less time discussing Amanda Knox and far more time discussing Meredith’s killer Rudy Guede.Sadly Guede will be eligible for work release as early as 2014. Where is the outrage from Ganong’s group? If it truly is their mission to see that justice is properly served for Meredith Kercher, then why isn’t Guede’s minimal punishment the focus of their discussion?
It is unclear why Peggy Ganong has decided to make running an anti-Knox website her mission in life. Author Nina Burleigh recently reported what she learned from Ganong about her involvement in the case. Burleigh details her findings and describes the attacks made against her by Ganong’s group in her article titled: “The Amanda Knox Haters Society: How They Learned to Hate Me Too.” Here is an excerpt from the article describing her encounter with Ganong:
“As for PMF, I met with its moderator, Peggy Ganong, in Seattle in 2010, after Knox’s conviction. She told me she first thought Amanda Knox “looked like a killer” after seeing her picture online. Her site has posted translations of the court proceedings but also provides a forum for anonymous but self-described experts who suggest that men who believe Amanda Knox is innocent are driven by lust for her. They also post bilious captions beneath pictures of the Knox family.”
Burleigh also reinforces my assessment that Quennell is a raving lunatic when describing the disturbing threats he made against her:
“Quennell then accused me by email of being on the Knox family payroll, informed me that his sources in Perugia had seen me consorting with Amanda’s mother (I had in fact met with her once, in a public place, by then) and eventually started writing about how he was going to ‘train his scope’ on my apartment in Manhattan, and closing emails with ‘how are the kiddies?’”
Best selling author Douglas Preston has recently written about the anti-Knox sites as well. Preston has been a long standing target of Ganong’s group due to his support for Amanda Knox. Anyone interested in this topic should read Preston’s Amazon Single titled “Trial By Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case.” In this single, Preston goes into great detail about the online debate and looks into why the discussion has raged on for so long.
Sadly the Italian Supreme Court’s recent decision to prolong the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito case has given new life to bloggers like Ganong and Quennell, and there is no doubt that the truth is now in jeopardy of being forever clouded in the process.
Thankfully, Nina Burleigh and Douglas Preston refuse to stand by and let false information go unchallenged.
Please visit Injustice in Perugia to learn the truth about the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.