Wednesday, May 17, 2017

David Deusner, lawyer and forensics expert at Control Risks, admits to activity at Ashley Madison and struggles with sex addiction -- but still issues threats

David Deusner and family
The subject of a recent Ashley Madison post has admitted to engaging in activities at the extramarital-affairs Web site. He even acknowledged that he has struggled with sex addiction. Still, he is threatening to take legal action against me and this blog.

I'm not making this up -- and we're not talking here about a stupid guy.

David Deusner is managing director of compliance forensics intelligence for Control Risks, working out of Birmingham and Washington, D.C. Before that, he worked for roughly six years at Birmingham's Bradley Arant law firm, first as director of litigation support and eDiscovery Services and then as senior eDiscovery counsel in the litigation and construction group.

Deusner earned a bachelor's degree in business administration/music business and artist management at Belmont University in Nashville and a law degree at DePaul University in Chicago. This is a bright guy, so why the bizarre -- even stupid -- response to our Ashley Madison post, which was published on April 26? Let's address that question by examining our communications with Deusner, which began the next day via e-mail:

Mr. Shuler

Please take down the post about me and my family. I was diagnosed with sex addiction several years ago. It nearly destroyed my family. I went through counseling and continue to work on my addiction, almost daily. My wife and I went through years of counseling as well due to this, and our marriage is still not where it should be as a result of my addiction. My wife and family have suffered enough from my horrendous mistakes and poor choices. They do not need to suffer any further because of this posting now. I can't stress enough how painful this has been to my wife, and your bringing this up again will only cause more pain and grief. I realize the point of your blog is to report on attorneys and their conduct, but this is a VERY personal matter, a very private matter, and your publicizing it only will cause more pain and suffering to my family.

PS. I now see your emails to my work email account; they were sitting in my junk folder. I would have responded sooner. But I implore you - please remove this posting immediately.

I was in the midst of preparing court documents that had a tight deadline, so I was slow responding. Deusner sent me another e-mail, on April 28:

Mr. Shuler -

Please take down this post immediately. I have caused enough damage to my family, and this is only opening old wounds. Please respond to let me know you will be taking this down immediately.

I was concerned about his tone, but I was willing to talk with him, so I responded later that day:


I apologize for being slow responding. I'm in the midst of preparing court documents that have a deadline, and it probably will take me through the weekend to finish them up. Perhaps we can talk via phone early next week? Let me know if you would be OK with that.

My concern about Deusner's tone only increased with his response:

I will talk to you, but you have to take this post down. I am happy to explain whatever you feel you need, and will make myself available early next week, but I need you to take this down now. The embarrassment you're causing my wife is something I don't think you fully grasp, and the pain of not only opening these old wounds but opening it to the public for her ridicule is outrageous. Please take this down immediately, and I will talk to you all you need next week.

I doubt there is a journalist in the world who would not be taken aback by this kind of language. And I was stunned that it came from a lawyer, who should know better. A journalist (or anyone else, for that matter) has an absolute right to publish accurate information. For any citizen, especially one with a law degree, to tell a journalist "you have to take this post down" is . . . well, it's nonsense. And to suggest that I was the source of any embarrassment for his wife -- rather than his own behavior -- was pure rubbish.

David Deusner
Also, that last highlighted sentence suggested Deusner has the market cornered on dealing with pain -- that he knows the subject in a way I can't possibly understand. Funny, but that kind of arrogance doesn't sit well with me. I was prepared to let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I know a thing or two about dealing with pain.

My responses made it clear I was willing to communicate with Deusner. But his pushy tone and ill-informed statements made me think nothing much would come from any discourse. I would be proven right about that, but not before Deusner went down a path that perhaps was even more ill-advised than his adventures with Ashley Madison.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

I can see where this guy would be unhappy about your post, but I don't see where he has a legal beef about it.

Anonymous said...

This guy could use a few courses in media relations. You don't contact a reporter and essentially say, "You've got to take this post down because it accurately describes the stupid stuff I've done."

Anonymous said...

Isn't Deusner the guy where a commenter on your original post kept claiming, as an eDiscovery expert, Deusner was just doing his job, and you were an awful person for including him in your AM reports?

legalschnauzer said...

9:24 --

You have a good memory. I will try to find a few of those comments.

Anonymous said...

Deusner is just trying to bully and intimidate you. Typical lawyer behavior. If he actually takes legal action, he will deserve what he gets.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:24 --

Here is part of one of those comments:

Anonymous said...
I just pulled this man's data---it's not hard. He has one charge of 68 dollars, which I believe was the base level you had to pay to see any incoming messages or see expanded profiles of other users. ONE.

He is a lawyer in e-discovery. Seems a real journalist would think, "Oh, this guy was likely doing investigation for a client." Or, "maybe he is consulting in a forensics capacity here. I better be damn sure better I run this."

ONE CHARGE. Obviously not a repeat "customer" of Ashley Madison.

Certainly not enough to plaster his wife and kids on the internet and tie his name to your feckless blog via a google search.

you sir, should be ashamed of yourself.

Here is part of another:

Anonymous said...
What is the benefit of posting this information about private individuals? AFAIK, neither Deusner nor any others you've listed make / effect public policy. How is posting 2 year old news about private citizens in the public interest?

Assuming he was working on behalf of a client, he's an attorney and could not explain his actions to protect his client. Especially to you or anyone else.

What if Deusner used AM to commit adultery? How is that your business, or that of anyone outside his marriage or family?

Posting only the facts without context and some leading narrative isn't journalism. It's tawdry, seedy gossip-mongering that senselessly damages the reputations of all involved.

Anonymous said...

You don't feel bad about adding to this guy's pain? Makes me think you're a sorry person.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:56 --

Your question is the kind that comes from someone with little or no understanding of journalism. A reporter simply cannot worry about whether someone, somewhere might "feel pain" or "take offense" at our work. If we did, the Web would be barren of news. Major newspapers would print blank sheets of paper each day. As has been said many times, the three rules of journalism are "accuracy, accuracy, and accuracy." That is what we worry about.

Anonymous said...

I check this site often just to see, as you did with Bentley, if there is anything is going on that the mainstream media is not picking up on. However, this story has no real point other than to hurt this man and his family. He is not a public figure and as far as i can tell nothing he has done has warranted this outing. I have enjoyed your blog in the past but this just seems petty and hateful for no purpose other than to be petty and hateful. Like i said, enjoyed it for while but this will be the last time i visit this site. You should have stuck with Alabama politics and stayed away from the AM crap. You shot yourself in the foot for nothing.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:10 --

I've never said my AM coverage is limited to public figures. It is limited to individuals who have a significant impact on the public, and this guy does -- as a lawyer, he has built his career on use of taxpayer-funded courts. Also, this blog never has been about "Alabama politics." It's primarily about legal and judicial corruption, which certainly can overlap with politics. But it's never been a true political blog; that information can be found in plenty of other places.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess: As an eDiscovery expert, Mr. Deusner likely has spent much of his career digging up dirt on other people. While at Bradley Arant, I'm guessing Mr. Deusner used his skills to find dirt on anyone (likely a consumer) who might dare sue one of the firm's corporate clients.

Mr. Deusner probably got paid a handsome sum for his dirt-digging skills. One problem: Mr. Deusner has dirt of his own, and Legal Schnauzer found it -- prompting howls of pain from Mr. Deusner.

Here is a life lesson for Mr. Deusner: What goes around comes around.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:50 --

You raise some powerful points. Not sure exactly what Deusner did at Bradley Arant, but if you are on target, I'm guessing his role was to find anything damaging on plaintiffs, whether it was related to the case or not.

If that's what he did, it indeed is ironic to see dirt being unearthed on him.

Anonymous said...

If being married to Deusner is too big an embarrassment for the missus, she always could divorce his ass.

Anonymous said...

@10:10 --

I don't think Schnauzer really cares whether you read or not. I get a chuckle out of commenters like you who pledge to never read the blog again, and Schnauzer more or less says, "See ya later, alligator."

legalschnauzer said...

@11:23 --

Pretty funny comment. In truth, I have no problem with anyone who decides they don't care for our content and wants to stop reading. I've got no shortage of readers, especially in high places. I'm probably more interested in the quality of our readers than the quantity, even though the quantity is significant for a blog of this sort. I know from my blog stats that the quality of my readers is off-the-charts high. While Obama was in office, we regularly got visits from "Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C." Your quality of readership can't get much higher than that. We get visitors from both houses of Congress and numerous federal agencies almost every day, not to mention universities, think tanks, etc.

We've been ranked among the top 50 law blogs in North America, and that happened without any assistance from 10:10. I want readers who "get it," that we have a huge problem with corruption in our justice system. For those who don't "get it," their exit is fine with me.

Anonymous said...

You may be able to lie to yourself that all of these posts "ok" because they are technically legal, but what you're doing isn't ok morally. I know you're going to reply to tell me what some of these people did isn't morally ok either, but two wrongs don't make a right.

You are playing with fire each and every time you post one of these "outings". I think you seriously underestimate the potential harm you are exposing yourself and your family to through these continuous attempts to get back at the people who "did you wrong" by attacking other people who have the misfortune of simply having the same occupation as those you despise.

legalschnauzer said...

@1:40 --

If you presume to know what is and is not moral, why don't you contact me directly ( or 205-381-5673)? I'd love to talk with someone who has such insight. I look forward to our conversation.

Anonymous said...

What in the hell is "Control Risks" and what in the hell do they do?

legalschnauzer said...

@1:57 --

Here is what in the hell they do, from their Web site:

Control Risks is an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments. We support clients by providing strategic consultancy, expert analysis and in-depth investigations, handling sensitive political issues and providing practical on-the-ground protection and support.

Our unique combination of services, geographical reach and the trust our clients place in us ensure we can help them to effectively solve their problems and realise new opportunities across the world.

Anonymous said...

@1:40 --

You suggest that Deusner, or people like him, are a danger to Mr. Schnauzer -- and yet, you claim Mr. Schnauzer is the one with questionable morals?

Don't think you grasp how ridiculous that sounds. Makes me wonder about your own morals, since you seem to be standing up for those you admit could cause harm to someone whose "immorality" consists of reporting accurately about their misdeeds.

Maybe Deusner and others need to buy some big-boy pants and grow a pair, for Christ's sakes.

S C said...

This is the first time I've commented on an Ashley Madison post. I tend to scroll past them to the next story. I'm not familiar with most of the people being discussed, anyway. If my spouse or i were on AM, and there was a story out there about one of us, it would be incredibly hurtful. No doubt. Thank goodness that's not the case.
What IS the case specific to AM, the people who used the site used their personal info including email and in some cases, home addresses. Credit cards, etc. Why? Granted, they had no idea the site would be hacked. But still, worst case, why not use an admin's info or a paralegal who would do anything to advance their career? As slimy as that sounds--I wouldn't put it past quite a few folks in Jefferson County.
Ashley Madison, aside, you know what the real prize would be? The black books with all the politician's names and pics that folks have used in the great state of Alabama for purposes of blackmail (and worse). That would be a hell of a story for the Mad Dog Shnauzer!

I P Freely but number twos can be a problem said...

Just when I start thinking the never ending Ashley Madison posts are more of the same old same old....

If I get constipation from all the popcorn this blog made me eat reading this then maybe I'll be thinking of Baldly Arrogant.

Matter of fact the next number two time I may be thinking of Baldly Arrogant whether or not I have constipation!

legalschnauzer said...

Memo to @8:52 --

My, aren't we in a huff! And you are too big a coward to say this stuff to me directly, under your own name. Whatever problems I've got, being a coward isn't one of them. Can't say that for you. And what will you be remembered for, being a pussy?

legalschnauzer said...

SC --

Very interesting comment. It reminds me of the first time I heard the term "kept woman." It was in Birmingham, and when I asked what that meant, my colleagues were amazed I'd never heard of it. The idea is for a business exec, usually in his 50s, to have a 50-ish wife at home for appearances and then keep a 20-something dish (maybe a part-time stripper) as a plaything. The young honey would be "kept" in a nice lifestyle -- with a high-end apartment, nice car, all the amenities. Meanwhile, the wife would know nothing about this "side item" -- unless, maybe, she had a doctor visit and came home with diagnosis of an STD. I was told that often was when the shit really hit the fan. Main thing I remember was being told this kind of arrangement was quite common in Birmingham, and probably throughout Alabama. I wonder if the "kept woman" phenomenon still exists.

S C said...

I have no doubt it does, and I'm guessing it went much further, back in the day. People found out about others' playthings and who knows where the blackmail ended.

legalschnauzer said...

Hah! I laugh when I hear people talk about college football being the No. 1 sport in Alabama. College football, at best, is No. 3 -- behind gambling and blackmail.

I wonder if the "kept woman" tradition has taken on a new wrinkle. Perhaps a lot of today's white-cloth corporate types prefer to have a "kept man" on the side. Maybe they go check him out after sliding out of the church pews on Sunday morn.

Branton Ford said...

I dont read threats.
I read a desperate man trying hard, trying to do anything he can to achieve what his wife is likely demanding he do to amend for his behavior.
I read a shocked man who likely stumbled (on his own or at the tip of someone else) on your corner of the interwebs world because his name, his wifes name and pictures of their children were suddenly put on spotlight for the world (google) to find anytime they were searched for.
I read a man who made a personal mistake, in his personal life that is trying to understand why you, someone unknown to him, have singled him out for scrutiny, scorn and judgment in such a public forum.
I read a guy simply trying to save his marriage from a past mistake.
I read a guy willing to do anything you ask, and in a hurry.

Frankly Roger,your coverage is entering a place where I find myself questioning your sanity and the reasons for being so utterly cruel. Its clear you are out to humiliate a community that has caused you so much trauma, but your scorched earth policy of leaving no prisoners is turning my stomach.
I wish you would stop.
Doing this wont stop the injustices heaped on you.

legalschnauzer said...


I appreciate your well-stated counterpoint. I don't agree with you, but I appreciate that you expressed yourself in a reasonable, coherent fashion. A few points:

(1) Unfortunately for Mr. Deusner, his personal mistake became public when the Ashley Madison data became public. The company did not protect his data, and he certainly has a legit beef with them. Litigation on that subject is ongoing in St. Louis, MO federal court.

(2) I've written almost 30 posts about individuals who got themselves trapped in the AM quagmire. I've hardly singled out Mr. Deusner.

(3) I haven't asked anything of Mr. Deusner. I offered to talk with him, as I would with anyone who raises concerns about my work. He's chosen not to talk -- his call.

(4) The clear threats from Mr. Deusner will be spelled out in a follow-up post.

(5) Feel free to question my sanity all you want, and if reading LS causes you stomach pains, I'd suggest you quit reading. Not sure when practicing journalism became being "utterly cruel," but you are free to make that judgment.

Mark Hayden said...

When people ask for mercy why burn them unless you have a personal beef with them.?
Did he personally hurt you? If not why hurt him?
Yes people commit adultery what is news?

legalschnauzer said...


A few responses:

(1) Mr. Deusner didn't ask for mercy. He told me to take a post down, even though he admitted it was accurate.

(2) I'm a journalist, not a clergyman. Mercy is an issue for someone else to deal with. It's way beyond the scope of journalism.

(3) I didn't "burn" Mr. Deusner. As he admitted, my reporting was accurate.

(4) The post isn't about adultery; it doesn't say Mr. Deusner committed adultery. It's about a lawyer/forensics expert making use of the Ashley Madison Web site. Issues related to AM have been in the news for almost two years, nationally and internationally, and it's still very much in the news.

Mark Hayden said...

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. It personally identifies him. His wife has critics that ridicule her for tolerating her husbands transgression. Let him post a confession of his sins on your website . Use him for his honesty instead of ignoring it. Offer to publish what his wife and family means to him. Publish his feelings of inadequacy and regret. That will get far more attention than relentless punishment. I had a Uncle who was an adulterer and womanizer who embarrassed my aunt. I encouraged my aunt to ignore his conduct. His infidelity was not her sin, it was his. I told him he was a crazy old fool who would need his wife. So my adulterous uncle became a demented old fool and his faithful wife took care of him. His children were ambivalent. His children had greatest of esteem for their mother who suffered much to maintain an intact family. Marriage is for better or worse. The worse includes sexual addiction.

legalschnauzer said...


I agree that mercy is important in one's personal life, but it's not part of one's training as a journalist. I'm not ignoring Mr. Deusner. I offered to speak with him via phone, and he ignored my offer. My role is not about confession of sins or relentless punishment or any of that. Those duties all belong to higher authorities than me. My role is to report news that has an impact on the community. I don't think anyone can seriously dispute that the Ashley Madison story has a significant impact on many communities.