Bitcoin Foundation board member-elect Brock Pierce responds to critics, refuses to step down

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Shortly after the election of entrepreneur Brock Pierce to the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, members of the organization began a campaign to oust him. Citing Pierce’s controversial history with troubled dotcom-era startup Digital Entertainment Network, foundation member Patrick Alexander terminated his membership in protest. Alexander was shortly joined by another nine members, who also felt that Pierce’s association with a company that appears to have collapsed under claims of drug use, child porn and pedophilia made him a bad fit for an organization at the front lines of bitcoin adoption.

Today, Pierce released a letter to the Bitcoin Foundation explaining why he would not step down or bow to “hateful and uninformed chatter on bitcoin forums.” The full text of the letter is available here. Instead of shying away from criticism, Pierce faced it head on, explaining in detail his connection with Digital Entertainment Network and its associated legal problems.

Approximately 14 years ago, I was falsely accused of sexual assault in civil lawsuits filed against multiple defendants in California by a man named Mike Egan and some of his friends. They apparently saw an opportunity to extort money from several entrepreneurs, including me. I was never served with the lawsuits and didn’t even know they existed. When I later became aware, I immediately went to court in California and aggressively cleared my name. Each of the lawsuits was dismissed by the Courts with the full consent of Mr. Egan and the other plaintiffs, none of whom seemed eager to further perjure themselves in open court in the face of someone standing up to them. … These civil actions arose from my association, at the age of 17, with a tech startup called Digital Entertainment Network, which was founded by a man who was later charged with certain federal offenses that dated back to many years before I joined the company. … Let me emphasize this: Despite a full investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI and the State of California into the allegations, I was never charged with anything whatsoever by anyone and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Pierce also made a persuasive case for why he won’t be stepping down from his new position. Pierce said that a resignation could be “perceived as an admission of guilt,” even though he has never even been charged with a crime.

Bitcoin is controversial in some quarters. That’s why I believe we need people on the board who are not afraid of being publicly attacked and who have no skeletons in their closets. I have been subjected to continuous public scrutiny since my childhood. I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. … Yet stepping down from the board in response to hateful and uninformed chatter on bitcoin forums or because of these resignations is not rational, prudent or warranted. It would set a bad precedent for the Foundation, rewarding those who make scurrilous accusations and engage in character assassination, often anonymously.

Pierce also notes that the man who originally made the claims against him and others, Mike Egan, is currently involved in an equally questionable lawsuit against X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer. Egan’s current claims have come into question over the last several months, and directly contradict statements he made under oath in 2003. Said Pierce: “The sad truth is that Mike Egan’s family appears to have a history of abusing the legal system to try to advance its financial interests.”

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