Five years ago today my life changed forever. I was in the beginning of my 9th year of teaching History at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, and I was in a love-hate relationship with my job. I loved teaching, I loved helping kids learn, but I hated several aspects of the job that had nothing to do with teaching. I wanted to express my opinions on controversial topics, I realized the only way to do so was with anonymity, and so I began publishing on Turtleboy Sports while teaching and coaching during the day.
If you read my book,I Am Turtleboy by clicking here to get it on Amazon, I explain the whole story in detail. I’m obviously biased because I wrote the book, but it’s got over 120 reviews and almost all of them are 5 stars, so I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ll give you the readers digest version in this blog though.
Every year I went with a group of friends to Buffalo to see the Patriots beat the Bills. As visitors, Pats fans get berated by Bills fans with some of the most colorful language possible, I knew this would happen in 2014, so I decided to film it and document it all for my new and growing anonymous blog, TurtleboySports.com. A month earlier I published the infamous Busgate blog, which drastically increased Turtleboy’s readership and following. I knew that a trip to Buffalo was an opportunity to reach an even larger audience.
I knew from previous trips that Buffalo fans and their behavior at games would be great content, so I documented much of the trip. From the tailgating, to getting nearly tipped over in a port-a-potty, to being called the f word (the gay f word) while having batteries thrown at us every time we stood up and cheered, the whole trip went as I knew it would. The blog, which included many videos, made their fans look like savages.
I actually enjoy being treated like this at away games. If your fans aren’t making visiting fans uncomfortable then you’re defeating the whole purpose of home field advantage. I didn’t write the blog about Buffalo’s fans because I thought I was above them. I wrote it because I am forever entertained by their complete rejection of PC culture, and their loyalty to a team that gives them nothing but misery year after year.
We were obnoxious fans, particularly me. I’m loud, I love the Patriots, and I don’t mind when people call me mean words. Every time Buffalo did something good (rarely happened) they shoved it in my face, but every time we did something good the favor was returned. Occasionally when they’d throw stuff at me I’d give them the international sign for f*** off, by putting my right hand in a fist and motioning up and down to let them know their insults didn’t bother me. Kind of like the motion in the first gif, and the facial reactions in the second.
At no point during the game did anything cross a line that could be considered sexual, nor did I do anything that even necessitated a visit from Bills security. This was basically a 10 second clip of my typical encounter with a Buffalo fan who took shots at my sexuality.
The blog about the game spread like wildfire in the Buffalo area, and I get why it would. It was a satirical blog about the debaucherous behavior of Bills fans, written by a fan of the team that comes to Buffalo every year and beats them. Many of them took it the wrong way and assumed I was writing it in a mean spirited fashion. I wasn’t; it was just satire. But good luck explaining that to Buffalo fans.
Everyone in Buffalo wanted to know who Turtleboy was, and I was invited onto a sports talk radio station in the area, which I declined.
But someone else called into that show and pretended to be me. In this video people who were at the game claimed that I was “asking for it,” and “paid more attention to Bills fans than to the game.” This audio really brings me back.
This guy with the shared Facebook account really thought it was me on the radio.
No confirmation on which one of them cheated, but I still don’t know whose voice that was on the radio, and I’d love to know if they’re reading this now. It was the talk of the town and everyone wanted to know who Turtleboy was.
Unfortunately this man did.
James Kriger ran a blog called BuffaloBruises.com. I say that in the past tense because the website, including the blogs about me, were taken down per order of a judge two years ago when Kriger was sued and ordered to pay $38,000 in damages to a kid’s charity he libeled. He is an openly racist, raging alcoholic who didn’t follow any sort of journalistic standards. He routinely smeared innocent people with blatant lies until he went after an organization that had lawyers who could actually do something about it. I had tried to take legal action by hiring a Buffalo attorney named Patrick Noe to sue Kriger for libel, but after taking my $5,000 deposit he withdrew from the case when Kriger wrote a hit piece on him and his wife. (I got the retainer back, but he’s a huge coward of an attorney)
Kriger, who was not at the game, published his story a week after I published mine. It was entirely based off of unverified comments left on Turtleboy, and on his blog, which initially published an article in which he announced that he was seeking the identity of Turtleboy. You can’t read it anymore, but here’s a small sampling.
He salaciously added fictional stories about me humping and/or sexually harassing and/or assaulting a female fan behind me, who gets younger every time someone tells the story. If what was alleged had actually happened I would’ve been kicked out, arrested, and everyone with a phone would’ve filmed it and uploaded it to YouTube. These facts are frequently overlooked by people who want to believe the lie from the libelous blogger.
Kriger published the article doxxing me on a Saturday night while I was coaching at a cross country meet in Falmouth. I remember it well because Notre Dame was playing Jameis Winston’s Florida State, and I was looking forward to streaming it on the bus ride home. Instead I found his blog, with me and my wife’s picture as the cover photo, I saw how many people were sharing it, and I freaked out. I not only deactivated all social media accounts, I took down the blog itself and made an announcement that I was doing it for my family’s safety. Some turtle riders thought this was a cop out, by the best ones understood and supported the decision.
The rest of the weekend I spent with butterflies in my stomach. I was already on thin ice with administration (again, read the book for the whole story on that), and was told that if I continued to write controversial blogs that I would be terminated. I knew that they would quickly figure out the sexual harassment allegations were fabricated, but if they could figure out I was behind Turtleboy they’d try to fire me. And they’d certainly use this alcoholic’s baseless blog as grounds to investigate all Internet activity I made on my computer and school email account.
On Monday nothing happened, but I spent the whole day waiting for the inevitable. Kriger’s minions were organizing campaigns to contact the school in order to ruin my life.
I was getting CC’d on emails like these, some of which went out to the entire faculty, from all over North America.
It’s a weird feeling knowing that your boss who hates you is aware of all this but hasn’t said anything to you yet. The principal was looking for a reason to get rid of me (again, read the book for a detailed explanation), and I frequently got letters like this in my mailbox from her.
I was expecting to get one on Tuesday, but it never arrived. Meanwhile on Twitter, Kriger’s trolls were not relenting.
I’m still blown away by the fact that administration at Shepherd Hill investigated one of their employees based off of the ramblings of this unstable, homophobic blogger.
They found my ratemyteacher.com page, (I think it’s been removed due to libel concerns), which allows users to leave a rating of any teacher they want, without any proof that they’re actually students. This is what it turned into by Monday.
Miraculously the blog had not reached any students yet, but I knew it was only a matter of time, and when it did it would spread all over the school.
The front office was getting bombarded with hundreds of phone calls and threats to the building. The Worcester and Boston media was calling the school looking for comment as well. I began receiving threats on my school email so I had to contact the Dudley Police.
A former student named Samantha Dumas found the blog on Tuesday afternoon and tweeted it out for the students to see. I never had this girl in class, (I wrote about her involvement in this extensively in the book, including my reasoning behind this controversial blog I wrote about her in 2015), but she had apparently turned into a rabid SJW in college and hated the blog and me in general. She was a 19 year old adult at the time and I don’t regret outing her later on for a second because she maliciously tried to destroy my life via social media.
Prior to her tweets no student had seen the blog.
Right before the last period of the day on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, a science teacher came up to me and asked me what was going on. She told me that the librarian, Samantha Westall, had printed out the Buffalo Bruises blog and was handing it out to students because she was so disgusted with what James Kriger was alleging. I knew then that this was probably my last day at Shepherd Hill, and minutes later a Dudley cop came to my class and escorted me to the main office.
The principal, VP’s, superintendent, and union president were all there. In fairness, they were supportive and made it clear that they didn’t believe the allegations of sexual misconduct. But they informed me that so long as I was in the building, the school would continue to be bombarded with phone calls and threats, and it would not be an atmosphere that was conducive for learning. They offered to give me paid leave until this was resolved, and I accepted the offer.
A search of my name on Twitter made it clear why it would be impossible for me to ever face these kids again. Here’s a small sampling of the chatter amongst students at the time.
I’m not going to lie – it was painful reading those. It really sucked. Aside from days in which someone I loved died, this was probably the worst day of my life. Granted, most of the kids writing those things either didn’t have me as a teacher, got written up by me for smoking in the bathroom, or didn’t like the fact that I held them to a high standard class. But how could I ever work in a hostile environment like that ever again?
It didn’t help that the school couldn’t have possibly handled it worse than they did. The official school Twitter account, run by Vice Principal Michael Resener, liked a tweet that they were not tagged in, in which they made fun of a friend of mine from the game for allegedly being a virgin.
They did nothing to address the rumors with students, even though this was a school that emphasized cyberbullying, and here they had a teacher being smeared with a defamatory attack by thousands of people and they stayed silent. Shameful. It was clear that during my paid leave they were going to consult with the school district’s attorneys and find out if they could legally terminate me. This is why we need teacher’s unions – because teachers would have no due process against administrators like this without them.
I don’t blame any of the kids for the things they tweeted. I’d probably do the same if it happened to one of my teachers. They’re older now and I’m sure many of them are completely different people. In fact, one of the best parts about this ordeal was reading the amazing things that some kids were saying. These kids had the bravery and courage to go against the grain and support me publicly.
Only one teacher emailed me using her school email address to show support, which I understand because those emails are all in the public domain, and most people’s concern is self-preservation. But others sent text messages, or CC’d me on emails they wrote to the principal.
Two weeks went by in which I was in limbo. I went to Chicago to clear my head and visit family. The union told me that they were going to try to terminate me, but assured be they’d help me fight it by getting a top attorney who could probably get the termination overturned. In the meantime I wouldn’t be paid, and there was still the chance that we would lose in court. The question was, could they tie me to Turtleboy? If they could I would be out of luck, since they can’t have a teacher on staff who has “controversial” opinions and enjoys satire on the Internet.
But even if they couldn’t fire me, how could I ever go back? The union informed me that they were prepared to offer me a full year’s salary to walk way, along with letters of recommendation, so long as I agreed not to sue them. I decided to take the biggest gamble of my life and accept their offer, not knowing what the future held.
Since that day five years ago my life has completely changed. Sometimes I do miss teaching. I loved helping kids improve themselves in the classroom and on the track. But at the end of the day I love Turtleboy just as much because I see the difference it has made in bettering the community, and I know I made the right decision. I’ve made it five years without going out of business, survived massive deplatforming, been dragged into nearly a dozen lawsuits, and have received a constant barrage of threats. There have been a lot of ups and downs to this and I’m still learning as I go along. But five years later I’m still here, and I’m happy to report that James Kriger failed in his attempt to ruin my life. In fact, he liberated me, and so many of you today would not know what Turtleboy was were it not for the libelous blog he wrote about me.
I look forward to many more years of Turtleboy to came, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. Thanks for riding with us.
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