|Brandon and David Guttery|
When I pointed out the possible repercussions of the son's false accusation, he ultimately expressed sorrow about what he had said -- but I was left with the impression that I had been the target of defamation, and I'm considering appropriate legal action.
Brandon Guttery is a senior at the University of Alabama and has worked as an intern for his father, David Guttery, at Keystone Financial Group in the Birmingham suburb of Trussville. David Guttery was the subject of a December 2016 post about his activities at Ashley Madison. Before publishing that post, I contacted David Guttery seeking comment, but he never responded -- never denied that he was a married suburban father who participated in the unsavory milieu at Ashley Madison.
Brandon Guttery contacted me on Oct. 9, 2018, for . . . well, I have no idea about the real reason he contacted me. But things started innocently enough before turning a bit ugly. Here's the beginning:
Dear Rodger (sic),
My name is Brandon Guttery, and I am writing you this evening under sad pretenses. I partook in a university fraternal event where I googled my own name, in an effort to see what company recruiters see when they research job applicants. When searching however, I came across an image of my father, David, with the infamous "Ashley Madison" website attached to his name.
On December 20th 2016, you wrote an article on your Legal Schnauzer blog about him, which I assume corresponds to the data breach the website underwent about that time. In reading through your article, I noticed you italicized "Ashley Madison" however there are no hyperlinks to evidence or information regarding David's usage. I write to ask: Do you still have that information available, and if so could you forward it to me?
I apologize [that] our first encounter is under such a circumstance. In writing this email I mean no disrespect or offense, as I only seek the truth.
Here is my initial response:
Yes, I have the data, and I'm still using it for future articles, so I don't want to forward it -- plus, it's in an extremely large file, and I'm not aware of any way to provide a hyperlink to that. I sought comment from your dad before running the post, but never heard back from him.
At that point, we had been polite and respectful toward each other, but the whole thing gave off a slightly funny smell, so I was braced for the tone to change at some point, if the interaction continued -- and it did. From Brandon Guttery:
I can understand your hesitation of forwarding the information, however I am the last person you need fear of jeopardizing your future articles by doing something with the information.
I am only after the truth. Two years later and I only discover this by accident, so other data subsets included in the file are of no interest to me. But, if that does not dissuade your skepticism of my motives, would you be willing to direct me to the source where you first obtained the document?
Hmmm . . . this young fellow wanted my sources and research materials? He obviously did not have much experience at dealing with the press. And the "trust me" tone of that first paragraph made me less likely to trust him. Still, things moved along OK -- for a while:
It's not a matter of skepticism; I'm just not going to share my research materials with anyone. If you ask any journalist a similar question, I think you will get the same response. I would suggest you discuss this with your father. My invitation for him to contact me is still out there.
That seemed to satiate young Mr. Guttery, and he responded with this:
So be it.
If I know my father, he never will.
Thank you for your time.
I thought that was the end of it. But the next morning, it became clear I was wrong about that. And it did not take long for the conversation to veer in a wildly different direction.
(To be continued)