The Dead Sea Scrolls cyberbully is being sent to jail. A judge in New York State’s main trial court sentenced Raphael Golb, a lawyer, to six months in prison for using false online identities to harass and discredit academics in a debate over the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Associated Press reported.
At his trial in September, Mr. Golb was found guilty of 30 criminal charges, including identify theft, forgery, and aggravated harassment. He also was sentenced to five years’ probation, during which he cannot enter any online discussion about the Dead Sea Scrolls using a name other than his own or “anonymous.” And he has been disbarred.
Mr. Golb, who is the son of Norman Golb, a prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholar at the University of Chicago, plans to appeal. During the past several years, according to court documents, Raphael Golb used several Internet aliases to claim that a scholar he perceived as his father’s rival, Lawrence H. Schiffman of New York University, was a plagiarist. Raphael Golb also impersonated Mr. Schiffman by opening an e-mail account in his name and using the account to send messages “admitting” to the plagiarism charge. During the trial, he testified that his actions were intended as satire.
Robert R. Cargill, an adjunct assistant professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures at the University of California at Los Angeles, was also attacked by Raphael Golb online. Mr. Cargill told The Chronicle that he had not expected Mr. Golb to get jail time, but that he believes the “sentence fits the crime.”
Mr. Cargill added, however, that the sentence added to the list of victims. “It’s a good old-fashioned tragedy where no one wins,” he said. “It’s ironic that [Mr. Golb] set out to rewrite the legacy of his father, but because he employed unprofessional and illegal messages to do so, he ended up damaging his father’s legacy beyond repair. This is the greatest sentence of all.”