Adam Steinbaugh Affidavit; Oct 12, 2014

This court declaration by Adam Steinbaugh was filed Oct 12th, 2014.  He also was the victim of threats and harassment by Thomas Retzlaff.

5740 Ralston Street, Suite 300
Ventura, California 93003
Tel: 805-654-0200
Fax: 805-654-0280
Attorney for Plaintiffs



JAMES MCGIBNEY, an individual, and
VIAVIEW, INC, a corporation,
THOMAS RETZLAFF, an individual,
NEAL RAUHAUSER, an individual,
LANE LIPTON, an individual, and
DOES 1-5, individuals whose true
names are not known,
Case No.: 5:14-cv-01059 BLF


I, ADAM STEINBAUGH, declare the following under penalty of perjury:1.

I am the author of an eponymous blog on legal issues in technology, with a particular focus on so-called “revenge porn” or involuntary porn websites, which primarily exist to publish the nude photos of men and women without their consent. In addition to my own site, my work on this and other areas of legal journalism have been published or noted in The Guardian,,, and various television and radio outlets.

2.  In February 2013, I wrote about the operator of one such site, Hunter Taylor, who operated, an involuntary porn site dedicated to women residing in southeast Texas. Shortly after public controversy over the site erupted, an individual identifying himself as “James Smith” or “Mr. Texxxan” appeared online, as well as through a voice-distorted interview on Anderson Cooper’s television program, claiming that he —and not Hunter Taylor — was the true operator of

3.  On information and belief, Hunter Taylor has testified that he alone operated and that he was not “James Smith” or “Mr. Texxxan.

4.  On or about May 15, 2013, a user named “Johnny Swift” using the email address “” and posting from the IP address, which traces to Cox Communications in Phoenix, Arizona, posted three comments on my blog, including on a post about James McGibney’s company. A true and correct copy of a screenshot of my administrative system documenting the posts by “Johnny Swift” is attached hereto within Exhibit 2.

5.  Between February 19 and February 22, 2013, a user posting from the IP address, which traces to Cox Communications in Phoenix, Arizona, posted under three different names on my blog. Based on the common IP address and the close proximity in time between posts, I believe these three accounts and posts originated from the same computer and likely the same person.

a. The first post was by “todd” using the email address, which, on information and belief, is an email address used by Thomas Retzlaff to receive documents filed in this case via the ECF system. The avatar used by “todd” was an image of a hoodedKlansman.

b.  The second post was by “Guest”, who posted a comment in support of “todd”—i.e., the person behind the “Guest” account was using multiple accounts to appear to give support to himself. The comment from “Guest” was critical of an

other poster who was criticizing “James Smith.”

 c.  The third post was by “the.klansman” using the email address posted a response supporting a previous comment posted by “James Smith.”

d.  A true and correct copy of a screenshot of my administrative system documenting the posts originating from the IP address is attached hereto within Exhibit 2.

6.  When I challenged “James Smith” via email to produce evidence that he was the true operator of, “Smith” was unable to  do so. Based on information that Thomas Retzlaff was “James Smith” and “Mr. Texxxan,” I began working on an article documenting how he had fooled media outlets.

7.  “James Smith” claimed to be an American living in Namibia, and demonstrated an obsession with the attorney (John Morgan) and private investigator (Philip Klein) retained by victims of

8.  On or about October 23, 2013, I posted on Twitter about an individual who had commented on my blog, on a post about revenge porn site operator Craig Brittain. Late that night, my website received a visit originating from the link in that tweet. The visitor’s IP address originated from a Cox IP address in Phoenix, Arizona. My website received few other hits that evening, and no other visits that evening originated from the post on Twitter.

9.  Within approximately half an hour of the Cox IP visit, I received an email from “James Smith”, who referred to the comment linked in the tweet (i.e., the comment visited that evening by the CoxIP address in Phoenix) and apparently believed that the tweet referred to him and evidenced my intent to write about his true identity. “James Smith” wrote, inter alia:

“Think twice, funny guy, about what you post. You are reachable, your whereabouts known, and you have a lot more to lose. I am not the guy who posted a comment on a months old post about Brittain. Taking investigative tips from Klein & Morgan will only cause you personal problems that you don’t need.[…]

“To quote Heisenberg [the protagonist of television show ‘Breaking Bad’], “ifyou don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.” There are many levels of meaning to that statement. I suggest you take it to heart, Adam.”

10. Based on the IP address, the timing of the visit and the e-mail from “James Smith,” and the content of the email from “Smith,” I believe that “James Smith” was not in Namibia as he claimed, but in Phoenix. Based on, inter alia, evidence referenced in Mr. McGibney’s declaration, the fact that each of the visits to my blog resulted from IP addresses originating from Cox Communications in Phoenix, as well as on my review of the language used by Thomas Retzlaff in his various legal pleadings 1  which is strikingly similar to that of “James Smith,” the email address used by Mr. Retzlaff on my blog and on ECF/PACER,and the repeated, substantially-uniform criticisms of John Morgan and Philip Klein, I believe that ThomaRetzlaff is “James Smith”, “the klansman”, “todd”, and “Guest.

1 For example, Retzlaff’s legal pleadings have repeatedly used words like “bogus” and “to use a legal term”, which are similar to language used by “James Smith” in his emails to me. Similar statements are routinely used by the author of the blog at issue here.

11. “James Smith” denied that the foregoing email was intended to be a threat, and attempted to clarify that it was not Smith who would harm me, but another person in Phoenix who I had written about — and “Smith” informed me exactly how long it would take someone in Phoenix to reach my “exact front door” in Los Angeles —because “Smith” was merely concerned for my safety.  I did not find “Smith’”s explanation credible (as his email was clearly warning me not to write about him) and, concerned for my safety, opted not to publish an article about “James Smith.”

12.  Although I repeatedly told “James Smith” that I wanted nothing more to do with him and that he should stop emailing me, he ignored my request and continued to email me.

13.  True and correct copies of portions of my correspondence with “James Smith” are collectively attached hereto within Exhibit 2. I have removed repetitive pages (i.e., those quoting earlier portions of the correspondence which are already included as original emails), as well as the photograph of a victim of involuntary porn. 

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of myknowledge. Executed in Beverly Hills, California on this 9th day of October 2014.

Adam Steinbaugh