The Fist of God Hoax refers to a hoax perpetrated in 1997 by then-Eastern New Mexico University student Miranda Prather. In July 1997, police arrested her for faking a hate crime. A lesbian, Prather was a graduate assistant and president of the campus gay and lesbian support group at Eastern New Mexico University. She now works as the executive director for PublishAmerica.
In July 1997, posters began appearing in various locations on ENMU campus, as well as in a town laundromat, that read: "Are you sick of queers polluting this great land with there [sic] filth? I thought so. Want to do something? Join the Fist of God. With his might, we can ride [sic] the world of there [sic] sickness. Ask around. We'll find you." and "Take us seriously, or we'll begin executing one queer a week following this list." The poster listed eight graduate students and professors, and accused them of being gay or lesbians. Prather's name was at the top of the list. Threatening emails were sent to all on the list.
The following day, Prather reported to Portales police that she had been attacked in her home by two masked assailants, and the investigation began. A surveillance tape obtained from the laundromat where one of the posters first appeared seemed to solve the case: the person placing signs was Prather herself. A search warrant was executed on her home. She was arrested and charged with seven counts of harassment and one charge of tampering with evidence, which she vehemently denied. She claimed that a woman named "Jessica Forrester" who looked just like her and was obsessed with her was the true culprit behind the crimes. Prather claimed Forrester forced her to circulate the posters, and suggested Forrester got plastic surgery to make herself look just like Prather. Police were unable to find anyone by that name or description.
The case went to trial in March 1998 but quickly ended in a mistrial on the second day after Charles Plath, Prather's public defender, announced he could not properly defend her due to a piece of evidence that the police claimed was missing that they produced during the trial.
Shortly before a second trial was about to start, Prather agreed to a plea bargain in which she would plead guilty to three charges of harassment in return for the other four charges being dropped and no jail time. On August 18, 1999, State District Judge Robert C. Brack of Clovis accepted the deal and sentenced Prather to three years probation. The court allowed her to return to Maryland where her parents resided.
Since returning to Maryland, Prather has been the executive director for PublishAmerica. The company describes itself as "a traditional, advance- and royalty-paying book publisher." The company has been described by critics as a print on demand vanity press. Prather has stated that "Nobody has come to us with a true breach of contract. [Claims] have run the gamut of individuals complaining about the prices, the editing or the marketing." Later that year, PA did lose in a breach of contract arbitration hearing to author Philip Dolan.
In 2004, PA under Prather published over 4,800 titles and had nearly 11,000 authors under contract. As of 2009, PA indicates they have published over 40,000 authors.
- Tawana Brawley
- 2006 Duke University lacrosse case
- Jarnagin, Elizabeth (1997-07-25). "Fist of God's motive impenetrable". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Thompson, Fritz (1997-07-23). "Student on Gay 'Hit List' Attacked". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Parker, Gretchen; Harrison, Mack (1997-07-23). "ENMU student charged with falsely reporting attack". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Archived from the original on 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Bresenham, Janet (1997-07-29). "Police believe infatuation behind plot". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Taugher, Mike (1997-07-24). "Anti-Gay 'Attack' Called A Hoax". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Bresenham, Janet (1997-07-25). "Professor on list relieved by arrest". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Bresenham, Janet (1998-03-20). "Mistrial declared in student's case". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Bresenham, Janet (1999-08-10). "Ex-ENMU student to plead guilty". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Bresenham, Janet (1999-08-19). "Former ENMU graduate student pleads guilty". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- "Woman who staged gay attack pleads guilty to harassment". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 1999-08-19. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- "ENMU Alumni Directory (P)". Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Span, Paula (January 23, 2005). "Making Books". Washington Post. p. BW08. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- Zeitchik, Steven (2004-11-22). "Authors Allege Publisher Deception". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2008-10-27.[dead link]
- Italie, Hillel (2005-01-22). "Critics and supporters debate success of fast-rising PublishAmerica". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- Vere, Pete (2007-05-23). "Saultite writes crappy poems, gets offered a book deal". SooToday.com. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- Harwood, Bridgette (2006-03-25). "PublishAmerica must pay up". Frederick News-Post. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- Span, Paula (2005-01-23). "Making Books". Washington Post. p. BW08. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "NM Hate Crime Faked?". Gay.com. 1997-07-24. Archived from the original on 2004-01-17. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- Sanders, Jon (1998-09-14). "Hoax crimes - contrived racist and anti-gay incidents". National Review. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- [J.K. Rowling and PublishAmerica's unfulfillable promise http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/08/jk-rowling-publish-america.html]
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