Update 1 – Update 2 – Update 3 – Update 4 – Update 5 – Update 6 Update 7 – Update 8 – Update 9 – Update 10 – Update 11 – Final
William “Bill” Talley aka @Political_Bill on Twitter (pictured) is a convicted sex offender who has managed to delay going to prison through evidentiary appeals. During that time, he has emerged as a progressive voice on Twitter and even briefly enjoyed board status in a prominent netroots startup. His sentencing will take place in Nashville this Friday morning. (EDIT: see Update 2)
Talley was arrested for possession of drugs and hundreds of sexual images of children in August 2005. He appealed to quash the evidence on the grounds of an illegal search, but that appeal was ultimately denied by the Tennessee State Supreme Court in March of 2010. After a long series of legal maneuvers, Talley finally pleaded guilty to three charges, including Class B Felony Exploitation of a Minor, on February 8, 2013. The Class B conviction normally carries a sentence of 10-12 years in prison. He was allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing.
According to Twitter’s API, Talley created his Twitter account in October of 2008. Since then, Talley has ingratiated himself to many prominent progressive and liberal Twitter voices, some of whom still defend him. Talley was even able to insinuate himself onto the board of a new Twitter-based organization, creating damage and embarrassment when his conviction was publicized on Twitter.
Questioned directly, Talley has denied the charges are true, even though he actually pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. Observers have noted him tweeting at an increased rate in the last few days, possibly in expectation of being sentenced to prison on Friday.
It is unclear whether Talley was ever ordered to remain off of the internet and social media, stipulations that are standard with such charges now but which were less common in 2005. Queries with the District Attorney’s office in Nashville have not been answered yet, as the prosecutor is currently engaged in a murder trial. This post will update if they reply.
When communities of interest form in cyberspace, it is all too easy for characters like Talley to obtain entry and rank without proper vetting simply by speaking to the interest of those communities. As yet, there are no standards or best practices for the netroots organizer to identify the next William Talley and exclude them from positions of access and prestige. This is a serious issue that organizers need to take seriously.
UPDATE 2: Responding to my queries, the Nashville DA media contact says that “it’s expected that the sentencing hearing initially set for this Friday will likely be continued to later next month, as they are still awaiting a report that has yet to be completed.” I have replied by forwarding the above image to the prosecutor.
I have forwarded the above screenshot to the DA’s office, along with the following list of Talley’s known Twitter accounts:
UPDATE 4: William Talley has been communicating with teenagers on Twitter. The slideshow below also contains two more examples of Talley attempting to persuade people that he’s being smeared with a fake guilty plea:
Talley is looking to change the subject any way he can, and he doesn’t care how much damage he does to any person or organization he puts between himself and the truth.
William Talley’s guilty plea on February 8th, when all his evidentiary appeals had finally been exhausted, was relevant enough to Unite Blue founder Zach Green that he removed Talley from the board the instant he found out about it in March. His plea will be even more relevant on May 29, when his sentencing report will have been completed and Talley will finally learn his fate.
In the meantime, Talley continues to feign innocence on Twitter despite his guilty plea, and maintains that this blog post is part of someone else’s nefarious agenda against the organization on whose board he served under false pretenses for one month. Which is odd, because many members of that progressive Twitter community have thanked me for telling them the truth about Bill Talley. They feel betrayed, and who can blame them?
UPDATE 6: William Talley has outed himself as @7serf7, an account that is still wearing a Unite Blue twibbon (see slideshow below). @7serf7 has doxed and harassed Twitter users who exposed Talley or criticized Unite Blue over him. Despite being removed from the board, Talley apparently remains an active and even respected force in that community. He is also calling on his followers to aggressively spamblock the accounts of critics in hopes of getting them suspended by Twitter, which is ironic given how Unite Blue rose to prominence by deploring such tactics. I have contacted Zach Green, founder of Unite Blue, for comment and will update if he replies. In the meantime, within two hours of emailing Mr. Green the account went private.
UPDATE 7: William Talley has drawn the attention of Anonymous. #OpTrollBill has a blog dedicated to exposing Talley and his supporters on Twitter, who think they are defending their Unite Blue community from criticism. In fact, they are merely defending a pedophile. Non-Anons are getting involved as well: @theXclass hammered Talley in his timeline tonight, drawing this peculiar I’m-rubber-you’re-glue response from him.
Talley and his defenders have engaged in spamblocking accounts that challenge them about his record and reporting them for “harassment.” As a result, Anon accounts such as @optrollbill have disappeared and then reappeared after review by Twitter. Anonymous is also upset that Talley’s supporters outed and doxed an Anon, @TrinaCuppett, some weeks ago after she exposed Talley’s criminal record.
This video also appeared tonight. While Anonymous has not been interested in a war with Unite Blue, any further signs of organized defense of Talley by that community may very well lead to confrontation with the hacker collective — and who knows where that will go?
UPDATE 8: William Talley has at least six different Google+ accounts that correlate with his Twitter accounts. One of them is friends with what appears to be a minor child of the age and gender Talley reportedly prefers for his sickening pederasty. A slideshow:
Links to Talley’s G+ accounts:
- Main Bill Talley
- “Strategic” William Talley
- Backup Bill Talley
- Backup William Talley
- Sleep Sloutions (sic)
- Barry Balthrop
UPDATE 9: After Talley spent the weekend trying (and failing) to spark the dumbest flame war in Twitter history, on Sunday morning he attempted to change minds about pedophilia. Really! Blue Unite, a blog critical of Unite Blue, captured the tweets as Talley tried to convince people that he has an “illness,” and that this blog post about him is “stigmatizing” that “illness.”
But pedophilia is not AIDS, and Talley was in full control of himself when he downloaded, printed, and copied sexually exploitative photographs of children to compact disks. He will be sentenced on May 29th because the state of Tennessee does not consider his “illness” a mitigating factor in his crime. Below is a copy of a 2005 news article containing important details that contradict Talley’s narrative of the arrest, search, and seizure. Click to embiggen:
UPDATE 10: Gizmodo reports Anonymous has taken down the website of NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association), a pedophile and pederasty “advocacy” organization. The hacktivist collective says its “primary goal is to take target #1 down and we won’t stop firing until it is down,” a reference to DDoS attacks. Several other websites are also under attack on “Alice Day,” a holiday for pedophiles which Anons seek to disrupt. #OpAliceDay has unfolded on Twitter in much the same way that controversy bloomed over William Talley last week. As I said in a recent comment somewhere, getting between Anons and a pedophile is quite like inserting yourself between a hungry tiger and its meat.
UPDATE 11: The Twitter account @7serf7 has been identified as a sock puppet account of William Talley by multiple independent observers. While insisting this identification is not true, the account does engage in pedophilia advocacy. Below is a slideshow selection of recent tweets:
For example, @7serf7 links to an article about a decision by an Irish high court without noting that the decision was in a foreign country. According to Digital Trends, the problem with the defendant Facebook site is that the plaintiff has already served his sentence.
The ruling came at the end of a case brought by one of the people named on the page, a convicted sex offender whose identity cannot be revealed publicly but is known as XY. XY had challenged Facebook to remove the page after he had discovered his photograph on it, noting that he had received threatening comments as a result and arguing that the page breached his human rights, an argument that High Court Judge Mr. Justice McClosky agreed with. “Society has dealt with the plaintiff in accordance with the rule of law,” McClosky wrote in his ruling, “He has been punished by incarceration and he is subject to substantial daily restrictions on his lifestyle.”
Interesting, but Irish — and also dated from last November. The account also tweeted this story in USA Today about a federal court overturning a social media ban on sex offenders because it was overly-broad:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the class-action suit on behalf of sex offenders, including a man identified as John Doe who served three years for child exploitation. They were all restricted by the ban even though they are no longer on probation.
“This law is overly broad,” said Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana. “It would even bar someone who was convicted 40 years ago from participating in a Twitter feed with the pope.”
Not shown above is @7serf7 tweeting this blog post about “internet vigilantism,” which seems to be the new theme among Talley’s defenders. Apparently, blogging about Mr. Talley with publicly-available documents is a form of harassment and bullying, whereas the 200+ sexual photographs of children William Talley had in his possession when police searched his condominium and office are somehow okay, or else not worth discussing. This only makes sense if you think pedophilia is acceptable, or that pedophilia advocacy belongs in the acceptable realm of progressive Twitter activism.
Picture via the Tennessean.
Bill Talley, a former health-care executive turned social media personality, will serve one year in prison and eight years’ probation for possessing hundreds of child pornography files.
The sentencing on Wednesday resolves charges that Talley has been fighting the past eight years. He appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to have evidence in the state’s case against him suppressed — a request the high court rejected.
That is how Bobby Allyn opened his front page article in the Tennessean last Thursday. He ended it by quoting the prosecutor, Deborah Housel, who wants Talley off of Twitter: “He’s prohibited from being around minors, so just think about it.” Indeed.
Talley’s case had earned the negative attention of anti-pedophile activists, and anger over his relatively light sentence is being channeled into a grassroots campaign to ban pedophiles from Twitter. The outrage is fueled by Talley’s attempt to use his Twitter following as proof of his importance as a community leader in order to argue for a lighter sentence.
Yes: @Political_Bill tried to get out of prison by way of Twitter. His attorney would not have introduced the topic at the hearing without Talley’s instruction. This was the objective Talley had in mind as he shmoozed up to liberal Twitter users and their projects. But because activists had shared Talley’s tweets with Ms. Housel, she was able to rebut him with his own words. His plan failed.
In fact, the episode snapped whatever suspension of disbelief still existed at that point. Talley’s defense is one long persecution narrative: police entered his condominium illegally, police planted evidence, police do not understand computers. When Detective Chad Gish testified to credit card receipts found for the videos, including one of a three year-old girl being raped, Talley dismissed it as a misconstrued case of phishing and identity theft against him.
You see, William Talley is always the “real” victim. Nothing is ever his fault; he has never committed any crime; everyone is simply out to get him.
Talley possessed thousands of pornographic images and videos of children when he was arrested in 2005. The items were found in a folder on Talley’s computer desktop, on the CDs in his office safe, and printed out and tucked into his briefcase. Altogether, more than 100 children were identified in the collection, 59 of whom have been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Detective Gish put over three hundred hours of work into disproving Talley’s elaborate contention that malware was responsible for images and videos popping up uninvited; Talley maintained that he had to save, print, and keep all that material so he could block it from his computers…later.
He was too busy to do it right away, which is why the date/time stamps on the printed filth in his briefcase were up to two years old, but Talley was conscientiously keeping it all filed away in order to get rid of it eventually. Because he was so “repulsed.” See how that works?
Talley, who claims to be a member of MENSA, the “High IQ Society,” and who cultivated the image of a wise elder progressive on Twitter for five years, claimed ignorance that child pornography was illegal. At the time of his arrest, he also admitted to giving friends prescription pills in exchange for money, but did not consider it “selling” controlled substances. In her closing, Ms. Housel quoted a psychosexual report already entered into evidence: William Talley “presents as one to whom the rules do not apply.” He is unique and faultless and great, and the rest of us just don’t get it.
Tweeting from a motel room on Murfreesboro Road, Talley had people believing his phantom ventures were successful businesses. In fact, Talley is one million dollars in arrears with the IRS, having closed his home healthcare business years ago. Here again he claims victimhood: Medicare and the economy, not his battered reputation in Nashville, were responsible for declining revenue.
But the activists who exposed and hounded William Talley held a special, new place in his victimology. A “Twitter lynch mob” has been telling horrible lies about him “because they don’t like our politics,” Talley said, smiling smugly at me.
Our politics — as if Talley defines the liberal brand on Twitter.
Talley has a fan club on the social network that includes core members of Unite Blue, a controversial liberal counterpart to TGDN on the right side of the Twitterverse. Two of his sock puppet accounts, @7serf7 and @politaire, both actively conversed with users who made a great show of unfollowing @Political_Bill. On Tuesday, @7serf7 and @politaire indicated they may be “taking time off” from Twitter; the next day, the accounts were alternately protected or tweeting with new voices.
At this time, Steven Hatlestad, a key figure in the doxing and harassment activity that characterized the flame war over William Talley, appears to be running @politaire; Aurora Grajeda aka @cihuamexica was clearly tweeting through @7serf7. Had the accounts gone quiet with Talley in prison, both people would be exposed for their cooperative reputational defense of a pedophile who enjoys watching the rape of three year old children. As it is, they have done themselves no favors by taking over Talley’s accounts.
The “Cauldron of Stupid,” as Talley’s supporters have become known, has at least stopped making empty legal threats in the face of an actual court decision. Judge Watkins clearly did not believe Talley’s story. Credit card receipts for “hardcore porn, all models guaranteed under 14” were not evidence of a conspiracy against William Talley, but proof that he belongs in prison. His Twitter accounts were not a mitigating factor for him. The rules would apply to him. While the statutes of 2005 allowed Talley’s entire sentence to be served on probation, a term of confinement was in order.
And then it was over, and I was free to tell Twitter.
Talley’s main @Political_Bill account is still followed by thousands of people five days later, though the numbers are steadily declining. Many people are asking Twitter to delete Talley’s accounts — all of them, even the ones being used by his friends now. They represent a monstrous lie; William Talley’s ego was the only thing about them that was ever real.
If you would like to contact Twitter about William Talley’s accounts, the email address is [email protected] and the accounts are listed below:
A final slideshow: Direct Messages from William Talley. As you can see, he has been waging a one-man disinformation campaign in the back channel.