A Florida man was arrested Thursday for waging an alleged 18-month harassment campaign against a writer after the woman penned a #MeToo survivors’ essay for an online magazine.
Byron A. Cardozo, 34, was charged with one count of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats, according to the indictment against him. He was detained following an initial appearance before a federal judge in Florida, according to court records.
Cardozo “launched a multi-faceted cyberstalking and threats campaign” against the woman after she published an essay detailing a sexual encounter between the two, federal prosecutors allege.
The woman, who is now 30, said the encounter occurred in 2001, when she was about 13 and he was 17, while both were students at a private school in Florida.
The woman’s essay was published under her own name by an outlet that covers global art and politics, but she used a pseudonym to shroud Cardozo’s name in secrecy.
The woman, who founded an online literary journal and is working on a memoir for a prominent publisher, is not named in court filings. Her attorney, Carrie Goldberg, requested she not be named in this report.
In this case, Goldberg said, her client’s decision “to chronicle a child sex assault that she suffered at 13 led to a violent campaign of the most gruesome harassment and violent threats imaginable — the worst we’ve ever seen.”
“Writers should be free to recount the traumatic events that made them who they are without fear of reprisal and re-victimization.”
In her essay, the woman accuses Cardozo and another senior at the high school they attended, whom she also identified using a pseudonym, of forcing her to perform oral sex on them, one after the other, in the backseat of a car outside a Florida mall in 2001.
In her telling, she didn't say “no,” but didn’t say “yes” either.
Then, acting more like an investigative journalist than an essayist, the writer reveals details about Cardozo’s life in the 15 years since high school. “He has been arrested nine times. He has attempted suicide three times, overdosed twice, and spent three and a half years in state prison.”
The other man, meanwhile, “is a successful attorney in Boca Raton. He represents victims of sexual violence and harassment,” according to the prose.
In response to the essay, Cardozo “sent hundreds of online communications, many of which he made in the ‘comments’ section to the essay,” according to a news release by the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office, which is prosecuting Cardozo.
Cardozo wrote in the comments that the woman “fabricated her claims about the coercive nature of the 2001 sexual encounter, provided graphic descriptions of his purported consensual sexual encounter with the victim, and described how he continued to masturbate to the victim’s photographs. Cardozo also made express and implicit threats to injure the victim.”
In April 2018, for example, Cardozo wrote: “I HOPE SOMEONE DOES RAPE THE S--T OUT OF YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO ME YOU F---ING BITCH,” and “BEST BELIEVE I’LL NEVER FORGET THIS EVER.”
A month later, Cardozo amplified his threats, allegedly writing “You f---ing bitch you keep this up and you will know what it means to be assaulted” and “You are f---ing done I dare you to keep pulling this shit. I F---ING DARE YOU BITCH YOU WILL KNOW FEAR, TRUST ME.”
At other times, prosecutors allege, Cardozo apologized to her for “the traumatic sexual experience in 2001, asked for forgiveness, expressed his love for her, and made veiled threats to commit suicide ‘because of you.’”
Finally, prosecutors allege that Cardozo continued to harass and threaten her despite obtaining, in April 2017, a state court order prohibiting him from communication with her.
Cardozo, a convicted felon who cannot legally possess firearms, was arrested after police investigating the woman’s allegations said they saw him shooting guns at a Florida range, according to the Miami Herald.
[Photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections]