An open letter to Adam Shostack, the man who raped my wife.
it has been 15 years since you shattered the lives of two good people who trusted you and considered you to be a friend.
Do you ever even think about it?
I still do, on a regular basis. I still feel guilty at not having been at Def Con that night to protect my wife from you. I still feel angry at her (and ashamed at myself for being so) for her poor choices that led to her being in a situation where she ended up blackout drunk and alone with you (someone she viewed as a safe friend of ours), and for her initial instinct to do anything and everything at all afterwards to avoid having to admit she was a rape victim. And I still feel completely impotent at having done nothing about it for 15 years, despite fantasizing often about how easy it would be to hurt you in oh so many ways, and hating myself a little bit every day for not being the man I sometimes wish I could be; a man who would make you suffer some equivalent to all the pain you caused us.
It probably never even crosses your mind anymore. We never pressed charges, both due to the difficulty and pain that would be involved in pursuing the case, and because you were not a sellout working for a big company like Microsoft then, but rather, on a cool cryptography startup that we did not want to see tainted by scandal. Once it was clear that no one was going to arrest you, and that I didn't really have the balls to come give you the life altering beating you still deserve, you likely just put it out of your mind and never gave it a second thought.
Now you have a new book out and are giving talks at various computer conventions. Congratulations on becoming such a public figure! These are the same kinds of conventions that my wife and I once enjoyed attending together and socializing with the interesting and intelligent people that frequent them. That is both a pleasure and a career building tool we can no longer pursue because it triggers such very bad memories for us and there is always the chance that we might actually run into you.
I even see you had the unmitigated gall to promote your book at a bookstore named after Ada Lovelace in celebration of women in technology. In case this is not clear to you: raping women at tech conventions can have a chilling effect on women in tech. I can only hope that this was a one-time crime of opportunity and that you are not an active sexual predator who regularly sets up these kind of situations. Damn do I really hope that, because otherwise, our failure to take legal or other action is far far worse and you will have hurt many more people by now.
Today you are giving a keynote speech at B-sides concerning "Good and Evil" and "burn out" in the field. Well I remember the exact day that your evil burned us out (well maybe we sputtered along for a while, but it was a losing battle), that was the day my wife told me what you had done to her. Once we had dreams of crypto-currencies, jurisdictional arbitrage, and accelerating the future; now I stay home and remodel my house at a sedate pace and turn down the occasional offers to be the CEO or CTO of new startups because I know from experience that such work will regularly provide little reminders of what happened to my family the last time we were involved in that world, while my wife had to take up a new career in an entirely different field. We can barely even tolerate visits from other good people who were in that same social crowd we were once a part of, so you even ruined our ability to enjoy the company of old friends.
Now we are raising a beautiful daughter and living in fear of one day having to send her out into a world that contains monsters like you, capable of disguising themselves so well that anyone might be fooled into thinking they are friends.
Anyway, it is an anniversary of sorts, and you seem to be doing well, so I just thought that maybe you should take some time out to think about what you did. You know it was wrong in every way imaginable, that you deserved to pay a very high price for it, and that you got off far too easily. And if you don't know that then you are either completely self-delusional or a sociopath. You should definitely count yourself lucky that the worse you will ever likely get from me is the occasional open letter to make sure you never forget about us.
Please know that your victims are still here together 15 years later thinking about what you did; still in pain; still wounded but surviving.