Web of Lies S2E8 Script

Online Education (2015)

Narrator: HE APPEARED TO BE A STRAITLACED PROFESSOR...

McConnell: JIM WAS EXTREMELY PRIVATE, EVEN IN HIS MOST INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS.

Narrator: BUT HAD A DEEP SECRET FINDING EXCITEMENTS ONLINE.

IT WAS INTOXICATING.

THANK YOU.

Stob: THIS WAS A FORM OF ESCAPE.

HE WANTED TO BELIEVE THAT THIS WAS POSSIBLE.

Narrator: BUT WHEN THE INTERNET BITES BACK...

GET OUT!

HE WAS REALLY LOSING IT.

Narrator:...HE FINDS HIMSELF THE VICTIM OF HIS CHOICES...

YOU'VE HAD TWO PHONE MESSAGES.

WHO IS THIS? I'm not playing nice anymore.

WHO IS THIS?

...AND A TORMENTOR WHO THREATENS TO DESTROY HIM.

YES. IT'S POLICY NUMBER "C"... FOR CHARLIE... 3-X.

AND I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Jim: OKAY, THAT'S IT FOR TODAY.

I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN TILL NEXT WEEK.

AND WHEN I DO SEE YOU, I WANT ALL YOUR ASSIGNMENTS.

Narrator: FOR THE PAST 11 YEARS, 54-YEAR-OLD DR. JIM AUNE HAS BEEN TEACHING COMMUNICATIONS AT A&M UNIVERSITY IN BRYAN, TEXAS.

HE ABSOLUTELY LOVED HIS WORK AND TEACHING.

MOST PROFESSORS EITHER DON'T LIKE IT, OR WON'T ADMIT THAT THEY LIKE IT.

BUT HE WAS A TEACHER.

AND HE STILL LOVED...

EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A FULL PROFESSOR, COMPLETE TENURE, TOP OF HIS FIELD...

HE STILL WANTED TO TEACH UNDERGRADUATES.

PROFESSOR? PROFESSOR AUNE?

I- I JUST...

I WAS JUST IN YOUR SEMINAR...

Narrator: WELL-LOVED BY HIS STUDENTS, JIM IS RESPECTED FOR HIS PASSION FOR TEACHING, AND IS ALWAYS HAPPY TO OFFER HELP AFTER CLASS.

UH, MARSHALL MCLUHAN AND HIS VIEWS ON THE MEDIA.

I WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN MORE ABOUT THAT TO ME.

THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. YEAH.

JIM AUNE TAUGHT A CLASS FOR ME MY FIRST SEMESTER.

IT WAS RHETORICAL THEORY.

HAVE YOU READ MCLUHAN'S "MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE"?

MM. NO.

HE WAS THE MOST WELL-READ PERSON I'VE EVER MET IN MY LIFE.

AND NOT ONLY HAD HE READ THINGS, HE RETAINED EVERYTHING.

ANY SUBJECT MATTER THAT YOU COULD BRING UP, HE HAD A WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF.

WHY DON'T YOU START WITH THAT?

THEN WE'LL SEE WHERE YOU ARE. OKAY.

UH, THANK YOU.

Narrator: ALONGSIDE HIS TEACHING AND ACADEMIC RESEARCH, JIM ALSO LIKES TO COMMUNICATE WITH STUDENTS AND FELLOW ACADEMICS THROUGH HIS ONLINE BLOG, THE BLOGORA.

Stob: HE WAS AN AVID BLOGGER.

AND HE WOULD REALLY USE THIS AS HIS OUTLET FOR HIS THOUGHTS, WHATEVER THOSE THOUGHTS MIGHT BE, WHETHER IT WAS ABOUT FAMILY OR WHETHER IT WAS ABOUT MORE SCHOLARLY OR SOCIAL ISSUES.

THAT WAS A WAY HE KEPT IN TOUCH WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE AND SPARKED SOME REALLY IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS.

Narrator: BUT BEHIND THE PUBLIC FACE HE SHOWS TO HIS ACADEMIC COLLEAGUE, JIM AUNE IS A DEEPLY PRIVATE PERSON...

A MAN OF SECRETS WHO ONLY SHARES WITH OTHERS WHAT HE WANTS THEM TO SEE.

IT SEEMS VERY INTERESTING TO ME THAT JIM KEPT HIS WORLD SEPARATE IN A WAY.

Stob: I THINK HE WAS PRETTY SELECTIVE AND CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT HE WOULD TALK ABOUT AND WHAT HE WOULDN'T TALK ABOUT WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

Narrator: ONE THING JIM IS VERY OPEN ABOUT IS HIS HOME LIFE...

HIS MARRIAGE TO MIRIAM AND HIS TWO SONS, NICK AND DAN.

HONEY! I'M HOME!

AT LAST!

WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?

UGH. I'M SORRY. I HAD SO MUCH TO DO.

IT'S JUST CRAZY.

Narrator: JIM AND MIRIAM FIRST MET 21 YEARS AGO.

Miriam: I WAS A GRADUATE STUDENT, AND HE WAS A VISITING PROFESSOR.

AND I HAD BEEN KIND OF ASSIGNED TO HIM AS, YOU KNOW, GET HIM AN APARTMENT, MAKE SURE HE'S HAPPY, AND ALL THAT KIND OF THING, WHICH I DID.

AND THEN THE MORE WE TALKED, THE MORE WE... TALKED, AND THE MORE WE TALKED, THE MORE WE THOUGHT, "WE HAVE A PROBLEM HERE, 'CAUSE I REALLY CAN'T TAKE A COURSE FROM YOU WHILE WE'RE DATING," YOU KNOW?

WE STARTED DATING, AND WE WERE ENGAGED BY AUGUST AND MARRIED BY DECEMBER.

JIM AND I BOTH HAD PhDs IN RHETORIC, AND I HAD TAUGHT FOR TWO YEARS UNTIL OUR FIRST CHILD WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM.

OKAY, YOU HANG ON TO THAT.

Miriam: AND THEN WE HAD OUR SECOND CHILD AND THEN A YEAR LATER FOUND OUT THAT HE ALSO HAD AUTISM, SO I SAID, "YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO MAKE THE MONEY.

I'M GONNA TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS."

[ INDISTINCT TALKING ]

DID YOU CALL THE PLUMBER TODAY, JIM?

NO, I DID NOT CALL THE PLUMBER TODAY.

JIM WAS LIKE, "I CAN'T TALK TO THEM."

HE JUST DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

YOU KNOW, HE COULDN'T SOLVE THIS WITH PAPER AND PEN, THE WAY HE SOLVED MOST OF HIS PROBLEMS.

AND I THINK IT WAS EXTREMELY HARD ON HIM.

AND HE WAS A LITTLE EMBARRASSED, I THINK, ABOUT THE BOYS.

Narrator: COPING WITH HIS SONS' AUTISM HAS FORCED JIM TO MAKE DIFFICULT LIFE CHOICES.

JIM HAD TOLD ME THAT HE WAS A RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC AND HE WAS NO LONGER DRINKING.

HE ALSO TOLD ME THAT THE THING THAT HELPED WITH HIS SOBRIETY WAS HIS TWO BOYS AND HIS BOYS BEING AUTISTIC, NICK AND DAN.

AND SO TO HAVE HIS BOYS THAT NEEDED SUCH CARE MADE HIM PUT SOMETHING ELSE IN FRONT OF HIMSELF.

Narrator: NOW AGED 16 AND 18, CARING FOR DAN AND NICK IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE FOR THE COUPLE.

AND RECENTLY, JIM'S BEEN HIT WITH SOME WORRYING NEWS.

I ALWAYS INSISTED THAT HE HAVE A YEARLY PHYSICAL, WHETHER HE WANTED TO OR NOT.

AND OUR FAMILY PHYSICIAN DID THE, YOU KNOW, "TURN YOUR HEAD AND COUGH" EXAM, AND WAS JUST CONCERNED THAT HIS PROSTATE WAS SO LARGE, WHICH IS NOT NECESSARILY CANCER, BUT IT CAN BE.

SO HE SENT HIM TO THE UROLOGIST.

I GUESS I'LL FINISH UP MYSELF.

Narrator: AS JIM WAITS TO LEARN WHETHER HE HAS PROSTATE CANCER, HE'S PLANNED A VISIT TO THE NEARBY UNIVERSITY OF AUSTIN.

GOT YOUR WALLET, HONEY?

YES, I DO.

HE'S TOLD MIRIAM THE TRIP IS FOR RESEARCH AT THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY.

THE TEXAS A&M LIBRARY IS REALLY QUITE GOOD, BUT JUST HAD DIFFERENT THINGS THAN THE TEXAS AUSTIN LIBRARY HAD.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR PHONE?

[ SIGHS ] Y-YEAH. OKAY.

GOOD. DRIVE SAFELY.

OKAY. I'LL CALL YOU WHEN I GET THERE.

[ ENGINE TURNS OVER ]

THANKS.

BYE, YOU GUYS.

JIM WAS EXTREMELY PRIVATE, EVEN IN HIS MOST INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS...

EVEN WITH MIRIAM.

Narrator: AND CONTRARY TO WHAT HE'S TOLD MIRIAM, JIM'S TRIP TO AUSTIN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ACADEMIC RESEARCH.

I THINK THE VERY SYMBOLIC WEIGHT OF THE PROSTATE-CANCER TEST WAS HANGING OVER HIM RIGHT FROM THE START.

HE NEEDED TO RECOVER A SENSE OF VITALITY AND LIFE, AND HE WAS GONNA DO THAT SEXUALLY AND GO OUT AND HAVE FUN AS A GUY.

WHEN JIM RETURNS HOME, MIRIAM IMMEDIATELY SENSES SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE PLUMBER, OKAY?

HE WAS DEFINITELY NOT HIMSELF.

IS EVERYTHING OKAY, HONEY?

ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE HE WAS LEAVING FOR CLASS, HE SAID, "WHEN I WENT TO AUSTIN, I WENT TO BED WITH A MAN.

SORRY. GOT TO GO TEACH."

WE'LL TALK ABOUT THIS LATER.

AND HE LEFT.

IT WAS A DEVASTATING MOMENT.

Narrator: IT'S NOT UNTIL JIM'S HOME FROM WORK LATER THAT EVENING THAT MIRIAM IS ABLE TO CONFRONT HIM ABOUT HIS WEEKEND IN AUSTIN.

WHY DON'T YOU SAY SOMETHING?!

HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAD MET A MAN IN AUSTIN THE WEEK BEFORE.

THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT I PLANNED...

OH, YOU DIDN'T PLAN IT?!

OH, BOY, THAT'S JUST GREAT!

...AND THEY HAD BEEN COMMUNICATING THAT WHOLE WEEK, WHICH I HAD NO IDEA, AND HE WENT BACK, THEY MET UP, THEY WENT TO A HOTEL, THEY DID THEIR THING, AND THEN HE CAME BACK HOME BECAUSE, OF COURSE, HE WAS VERY GUILTY.

OH, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING ME.

DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.

THE ONE THING THAT WE HAD SAID WHEN WE FIRST STARTED DATING AND WHEN WE WERE FIRST MARRIED WAS THAT THAT WAS THE ONE THING WE WERE NEVER GONNA DO.

WHY DON'T YOU JUST ADMIT THAT YOU'RE GAY AND GET OVER IT?

I DON'T KNOW THAT I'M GAY.

SO HE SAID WHAT HE WANTED IN HIS LIFE WAS IF HE COULD HAVE OUR FAMILY AND THEN HE COULD GO BE WITH MEN ON THE SIDE.

I LOVE YOU. I DON'T KNOW WHY WE CAN'T...

WE CAN'T JUST HAVE THIS.

AND I SAID, "OKAY. I'M A VERY SIMPLE GIRL.

YOU KNOW, I WANT ALL OF YOU ON MY SIDE OF THE FENCE."

Narrator: MIRIAM IS STILL REELING FROM JIM'S BOMBSHELL WHEN THE COUPLE RECEIVE EVEN MORE UPSETTING NEWS...

THE RESULT OF JIM'S PROSTATE BIOPSY.

I DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO BE MAD AT HIM.

AND I THINK I HAD A RIGHT TO BE MAD AT HIM, THAT HE DID THIS AFTER... WHAT, 21 YEARS OF MARRIAGE.

BECAUSE ON THAT WEDNESDAY AFTER THAT MONDAY, WE GOT THE CALL THAT HE HAD PROSTATE CANCER.

IN THE WAKE OF HIS DIAGNOSIS, JIM NOW PROMISES MIRIAM HIS GAY FLING IN AUSTIN WAS JUST A ONE-NIGHT STAND THAT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN.

WELL, HONEY, IT'S NOT...

IN RETURN, AS HE FACES THE PROSPECT OF SURGERY AND GRUELING CANCER TREATMENT...

I'M SCARED. OH, SWEETIE...

...MIRIAM DECIDES SHE MUST STICK BY HER HUSBAND.

WE'VE GOTTEN THROUGH STUFF BEFORE.

YOU KNOW THAT.

IT'S VERY HARD TO YELL AT SOMEONE WHO'S JUST GOTTEN A DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MAGNITUDE OF FACING CANCER, VERSUS, YOU KNOW, WHATEVER THAT WAS, THAT SEEMS VERY LITTLE.

YOU KNOW? AND CANCER LOOMS LARGE.

Narrator: BUT JIM FINDS HE CAN'T EASILY FORGET THE FEELINGS HE DISCOVERED IN AUSTIN, AND SOON HIS DARK IMPULSES THREATEN TO DESTROY EVERYTHING HE HOLDS DEAR.

Narrator: IN JANUARY 2008, FOLLOWING AN OPERATION TO REMOVE HIS PROSTATE, DOCTORS TELL JIM AUNE HE IS CANCER-FREE.

HE WAS SO LUCKY, BECAUSE THE CANCER WAS COMPLETELY CONTAINED IN THE PROSTATE.

THIS ONE NASTY, LITTLE THING GOT TAKEN OUT.

I WAS SO HAPPY HE WASN'T GOING TO DIE.

'CAUSE I FIGURED, AS LONG AS HE'S THERE, THERE'S HOPE.

Narrator: STILL, ONE ASPECT OF JIM'S LIFE POST-CANCER WILL BE VERY DIFFERENT.

AS A RESULT OF HIS SURGERY, HE WILL BE UNABLE TO GET AN ERECTION.

THE THREAT OF PROSTATE CANCER IS ENORMOUSLY DISTURBING TO A MAN.

IT CARRIES SYMBOLIC WEIGHT THAT GOES WAY BEYOND JUST HAVING CANCER.

Jim: HEY. IT'S ME.

LISTEN, I'M GONNA HAVE TO WORK A LITTLE LATE TONIGHT, OKAY?

I GOT A TON OF MARKING TO DO.

Narrator: THROUGH JIM'S SEX DRIVE REMAINS UNCHANGED, HE MUST COME TO TERMS WITH THE FACT THAT THE DAYS OF AN ACTIVE SEX LIFE ARE EFFECTIVELY OVER.

HE COULD GO ON THE INTERNET AND START EXPERIMENTING.

I THINK HE ALSO REALIZED, "OH.

I CAN RE-EXPERIENCE WHAT HAPPENED IN AUSTIN IN A SORT OF SAFE, CONTROLLED CIRCUMSTANCE OF SOME KIND."

AND I THINK THAT WAS ENORMOUSLY EXCITING.

SO HE STARTED GOING TO gay.com.

Narrator: JIM SPENDS MORE AND MORE TIME IN ONLINE GAY CHAT ROOMS, WHERE HE USES THE NAME "TEXAS TOP."

McConnell: I THINK THAT THE INTERNET WAS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT FOR HIM, BECAUSE WHEN WE'RE ON IT, WE FEEL LIKE WE'RE ALONE, AND AT THE SAME TIME, WE'RE IN THE COMPANY OF IMAGINARY OTHERS.

Miriam: IT GOT THE POINT WHERE HE WOULD COME HOME FROM WORKING...

HI, HONEY!

Miriam: HEY. HOW WAS YOUR DAY?

...AND HE WOULD GO TO THE COMPUTER.

I GOT ABOUT AN HOUR'S WORK TO DO.

OH, OKAY.

AND HE WOULD BE THERE UNTIL BED.

AND IT JUST GOT WORSE AND WORSE AND WORSE.

Narrator: AS THE YEARS PASS, MIRIAM HAS NO IDEA OF WHAT JIM REALLY GETS UP TO IN HIS STUDY, AS HIS ONLINE SEX LIFE BEGINS MOVING IN A VERY SPECIFIC DIRECTION.

McConnell: HE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR TRANSGENDERED WOMEN.

AND I THINK HE WAS INTERESTED IN SOMEONE WITH THAT EXTREMELY EXPRESSIVE FEMININITY.

Narrator: IN DECEMBER 2012, JIM BEGINS CHATTING TO SOMEONE IN A TRANSGENDERED CHAT ROOM, WHO IMMEDIATELY GRABS HIS ATTENTION.

HER ONLINE NAME IS PRETTY-GURL1985.

BUT SHE SOON TELLS JIM HER REAL NAME IS KAREN.

KAREN PRESENTS HERSELF TO JIM ONLINE AS AN 18-YEAR-OLD TRANSGENDERED GIRL.

AND HE'S IMMEDIATELY INTRIGUED.

AND IN THIS CASE, WITH KAREN, SOMETHING REAL DEVELOPS BETWEEN THEM.

THAT WAS THE POWER OF THE INTERNET FOR JIM.

HE COULD START TO CONFESS IN A WAY HE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO DO WITH A REAL PERSON.

HE WAS ABLE TO DO IT ONLINE.

THEY BEGAN TO TELL TRUTHS ABOUT THEMSELVES.

AND IN KAREN'S CASE, ONE OF THE TRUTHS WAS THAT SHE WAS IN FACT 16, NOT 18.

Narrator: SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A MINOR IS ILLEGAL, BUT JIM IS HOOKED.

McConnell: I THINK JIM WAS THREE TIMES OLDER THAN HER, AND, YOU KNOW, FOR HER TO SORT OF REACH OUT TO HIM AND REACH OUT SINCERELY...

APPARENTLY VERY SINCERELY...

IT WAS INTOXICATING.

THIS WAS A FORM OF ESCAPE.

HE WANTED TO BELIEVE THAT THIS WAS POSSIBLE.

HE WANTED TO BELIEVE THAT THIS COULD HAPPEN WITH HIM.

AND SO IT SEEMED RIGHT.

McConnell: GRADUALLY THEY BECAME MORE AND MORE EXPLICIT IN THEIR DISCUSSION.

AND THEY TALKED ABOUT EXCHANGING NAKED PICTURES OF EACH OTHER.

AND THEY DID.

Narrator: EXCHANGING NUDE PHOTOS WITH A MINOR IS AGAINST THE LAW.

JIM KNOWS HE'S PLAYING WITH FIRE, RISKING HIS JOB, HIS MARRIAGE, EVEN PRISON.

McConnell: HE WOULD BE KEENLY, KEENLY AWARE OF THE RISKS INVOLVED WITH AN UNDERAGE GIRL, OF THE THREAT TO HIS PROFESSION, AND ALSO THE OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW.

[ PHONE RINGS ]

HELLO?

MAN: Stay away from my daughter, you sick perv.

WHO IS THIS? She's only 16.

WHO IS THIS?

[ Dial tone ]

[ DOOR CLOSES ]

HI.

McConnell: I IMAGINE HE JUST WAS PETRIFIED.

IT WAS THE SCARIEST THING THAT HAD EVER HAPPENED TO HIM.

Narrator: JIM TRIES TO ERASE THE RECORD OF HIS COMMUNICATION WITH KAREN FROM HIS COMPUTER.

IT WAS LIKE A REAL FIST REACHING OUT OF THE INTERNET.

AREN'T YOU EVEN GOING TO SAY HELLO?

GET OUT!

I THINK HE, YOU KNOW, FEARED FOR HIS CAREER, FOR HIS DIGNITY, FOR HIS FUTURE.

HE PROBABLY FEARED GOING TO JAIL.

Narrator: BUT IT ISN'T LONG BEFORE KAREN'S FATHER IS IN TOUCH AGAIN...

...THIS TIME WRITING FROM HER E-MAIL ADDRESS.

McConnell: JIM TOOK IT UTTERLY SERIOUSLY.

I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, HIS FEAR WAS INTENSE AND REAL.

THE FATHER WANTS TO HEAL HIS DAUGHTER FROM THIS TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE OF BEING INVOLVED WITH JIM AND HE TAKES THIS POSITION OF BEING BOTH DISGUSTED AND AN OUTRAGED FATHER.

Narrator: JIM DECIDES HE HAS NO OPTION BUT TO AGREE TO KAREN'S FATHER'S DEMAND.

WHILE CAREFULLY KEEPING UP THE APPEARANCE OF LIFE AS USUAL, SOMEHOW, FROM SOMEWHERE, HE KNOWS HE HAS TO FIND THE MONEY.

THERE WERE FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES AT MANY TIMES.

I REMEMBER JIM TALKING AT TIMES ABOUT HOW MEDICATION OR CARE FOR THE BOYS WAS JUST EATING AWAY AT THEIR FINANCES, AND THAT WAS VERY STRESSFUL, AS MONEY ISSUES ALWAYS ARE FOR COUPLES.

Narrator: IT DOESN'T TAKE LONG FOR KAREN'S FATHER TO TELL JIM EXACTLY HOW MUCH HE WANTS AND TO MAKE CLEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF NON-PAYMENT.

McConnell: I THINK JIM WAS FRANTIC AT THAT POINT.

I THINK HE MUST HAVE BEEN, BECAUSE HE WAS TRYING TO RAISE MONEY, HE WAS TRYING TO KEEP IT ALL SECRET.

Narrator: TERRIFIED HIS ILLICIT ONLINE RELATIONSHIP WITH 16-YEAR-OLD KAREN IS ABOUT TO BE EXPOSED, JIM IS LIKE A TRAPPED ANIMAL WITH NO WAY OUT.

Narrator: JIM AUNE NEEDS TO FIND $5,000 TO PAY FOR THE THERAPY OF A 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL HE SENT EXPLICIT PHOTOGRAPHS TO, OR FACE HAVING HIS ONLINE RELATIONSHIP WITH HER EXPOSED.

A RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC, JIM'S OLD DEMONS RETURN TO HAUNT HIM WITH A VENGEANCE.

TEXAS A&M IS PRETTY CONSERVATIVE, AND ONE OF THE THINGS IT IS MOST CONSERVATIVE ABOUT IS, THERE IS NO ALCOHOL ON CAMPUS.

PERIOD.

HE WAS REALLY LOSING IT, BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT.

I MEAN, EVERYBODY ON CAMPUS KNOWS THAT.

THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE TRADITIONS HERE.

IT'S A DRY CAMPUS.

Narrator: FACED WITH KAREN'S FATHER'S FINANCIAL DEMANDS, JIM HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO RAID WHAT LITTLE SAVINGS THEY HAVE.

McConnell: HE WAS TRYING TO KEEP IT ALL SECRET, AND MIRIAM WAS IN CHARGE OF FINANCES IN THEIR FAMILY, SO, YOU KNOW, HE HAD TO SOMEHOW GET THE MONEY WITHOUT TIPPING OFF MIRIAM.

THE FATHER TOLD HIM THAT THE WAY THE MONEY WAS TO BE PAID WAS ON A GREEN DOT BANK CARD...

...MUCH LIKE A PREPAID PHONE CARD, ANYTHING YOU CAN ADD MONEY TO.

AND HE PROVIDED PROFESSOR AUNE WITH PIN NUMBERS TO USE TO LOAD MONEY ONTO THESE CARDS.

HIS RESPONSES WERE VERY SINCERE.

HE REFERENCED THAT HE WAS DOING THE BEST HE COULD TO GET HIM THE MONEY AS SOON AS HE COULD, AND HE BELIEVED THAT THIS WOULD END ONCE HE MADE THESE PAYMENTS.

Narrator: WITHOUT TELLING MIRIAM, JIM MANAGES TO SCRAPE TOGETHER $1,500 OF THE $5,000 HE'S BEEN ASKED FOR.

Zack: PROFESSOR AUNE TURNS OVER $1,500, AND AT THAT POINT INDICATES TO KAREN'S FATHER, "I'M HAVING TROUBLE GETTING THE REST OF THE MONEY.

I WILL DO MY BEST TO GET IT TO YOU."

Narrator: JIM KNOWS HE'S ONLY GOT UNTIL THE NEW YEAR TO FIND THE $3,500 HE'S PROMISED KAREN'S FATHER, OR FACE THE THREAT OF BEING EXPOSED.

WE STARTED TO FIND LOTS OF HIDDEN CACHES OF ALCOHOL.

AND HIS CAR WAS MORE AND MORE FULL OF EMPTY CANS.

[ TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS ]

Narrator: AS SOON AS JANUARY ARRIVES, KAREN'S FATHER IMMEDIATELY TEXTS AGAIN.

Zack: AT THAT POINT, THE RESPONSES START COMING IN FROM KAREN'S FATHER, VERY AGGRESSIVE.

HE CALLS HIM ALL SORTS OF NAMES.

"HOW DO YOU THINK THE A&M COMMUNITY IS GONNA TAKE TO YOUR TALKING TO MY TRANSGENDERED DAUGHTER AND SENDING OBSCENE PHOTOGRAPHS?"

AND HE JUST GETS MORE AND MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH THE PROFESSOR.


McConnell: HE WAS DESPERATE.

HE WAS, YOU KNOW, COLLAPSING UNDER THE PRESSURE.

HE'D RETURNED TO VERY HEAVY DRINKING.

CLEARLY HE WAS IN A DOWNWARD SPIRAL, AND A RATHER DANGEROUS ONE.

Narrator: UNABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, JIM'S DESPAIR DRIVES HIM TO BREAKING POINT.


Miriam: I LOOKED, AND I SAW...

IT WAS A PICTURE OF ME IN MY WEDDING DRESS THAT HE'S ALWAYS KEPT ON HIS DESK AT WORK.

BUT IT WAS WRAPPED UP IN A PIECE OF LINED PAPER.

AND... IT WAS A SUICIDE NOTE.

Narrator: MIRIAM IMMIDIATELY RUSHED TO THE CAR PARK.

HOPING THAT SHE WASN'T TOO LATE.

AND JIM HADN'T CARRIED OUT HIS SUICIDE THREAT.

JIM!

AW, JIM.

AW, SWEETIE.

AND I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

I'M SO SORRY. I'M SO SORRY.

NO, NO.


AND THAT'S WHEN HE TOLD ME WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE INTERNET THING THAT HE HAD GOTTEN INVOLVED IN.

I WAS... I'VE BEEN CHATTING WITH THIS...

TRANSGENDERED WOMAN ONLINE.

WHAT?

AND JIM SAID THAT HE HAD ALREADY SENT THIS MAN OUR HOUSE PAYMENT TO PAY HIM OFF.

HE WANTS MONEY FOR THERAPY.

WELL, YOU DIDN'T GIVE HIM ANY.

AND AT 5:00 ON THAT WEDNESDAY, HE WAS EXPECTING ANOTHER PAYMENT OF ANOTHER $1,500.

AND I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?"

SHE'S ONLY 16.

WHAT?!

AND I SAT THERE FOR A MINUTE, AND I STARTED LAUGHING...

BECAUSE IT WAS THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I HAD EVER HEARD.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

IF THEY HAD DONE THIS ON AN EPISODE OF "LAW & ORDER,"

HE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN HUFFY AND GOTTEN OUT OF THE ROOM

'CAUSE IT WAS SO STUPID.

NO, WE NEED TO FIND SOME MONEY!

JIM. JIM, LISTEN TO ME. I'M SORRY.

LISTEN TO ME. LISTEN TO ME.

BUT JIM WAS IN SUCH A DEMENTED FRAME OF MIND FROM THE ALCOHOL AND THE EMOTIONAL THINGS AND...

AND SO I SAID, "WELL, UH, HE'S GONNA BE WAITING A WHOLE LONG TIME, 'CAUSE HE'S NOT GETTING ANOTHER DIME FROM YOU."

JIM.

Narrator: TO MIRIAM, IT'S OBVIOUS THAT JIM IS THE VICTIM OF A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT AT BLACKMAIL.

YES, I-I CALLED EARLIER ABOUT MY HUSBAND, JIM.

NOW THAT SHE KNOWS HIS DARK SECRET, SHE TAKES CHARGE, FORBIDDING HIM FROM ANY FURTHER CONTACT WITH KAREN'S FATHER.

NO, NO.

THINGS AREN'T GOOD.

YEAH, THE LAWYER'S, UH, THE LAWYER'S GONNA CALL BACK.

I HAVE A LAWYER, AND HE SAID, "WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM HERE.

"WE'RE GOT TO PROTECT HIM.

WE'VE GOT TO MAKE SURE HE'S OKAY."

YEAH, YEAH. ARE YOU AROUND TODAY?

Narrator: WITH THE HELP OF JIM'S CLOSEST FRIENDS AT WORK, SHE ARRANGES FOR HIM TO TAKE A BREAK FROM THE UNIVERSITY, GIVING JIM THE CHANCE TO RECOVER AWAY FROM HIS BLACKMAILER'S TAUNTS.

I KEPT TELLING HIM, "THIS GUY IS PUNY.

HE'S A GNAT.

THIS IS NOT SOMEBODY WHO CAN TAKE YOU DOWN.

IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN."

Narrator: WITH HIS LEAVE OF ABSENCE SCHEDULED TO BEGIN IN JUST A FEW DAYS' TIME, JIM SEEMS TO HAVE TURNED A CORNER.

UNTIL THE MESSAGES FROM KAREN'S FATHER START POURING IN AGAIN.

IT WAS "TING" AFTER "TING" AFTER "TING" AFTER "TING."

[ CELLPHONE CHIMING ]

AND HIS HAND WOULD BE VISIBLY SHAKING AS HE WENT TO JUST TURN THE PHONE OVER.

IT WAS LIKE THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE MOST POWERFUL THING THAT WAS GOING TO GET HIM WAS LOOKING AT THIS TEXT.

HE STILL BELIEVED THE STORY, YOU KNOW, AND HE DIDN'T WANT TO LET GO OF WHAT HE BELIEVED.

Stob: JIM WAS SORT OF CAREFUL TO MANAGE HIS PUBLIC PERSONA.

IF ALL THESE DETAILS ALL OF A SUDDEN CAME OUT, HE NO LONGER HAD CONTROL OF THAT.

I THINK ULTIMATELY THAT WAS THE MOST TERRIFYING THING TO JIM, IS THAT HE WOULD LOSE CONTROL OF HIS PUBLIC FACE.

Narrator: WHEN JIM ARRIVES AT WORK THE NEXT DAY, IT IS TO LEARN THAT KAREN'S FATHER HAS FOLLOWED THROUGH ON HIS THREAT.

JIM.

JIM.

JIM, YOU'VE HAD TWO PHONE MESSAGES.

IT'S SOMETHING TO DO WITH A SEXUAL ASSAULT ON A STUDENT.

NO MORE CALLS FROM THIS AREA CODE.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND? I UNDERSTAND.

OKAY.

OKAY, I'M GONNA TAKE CARE OF THIS.

OKAY, OKAY. GOOD.

Zack: Koofers.com IS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN TALK ABOUT PROFESSORS AND TEACHERS AT UNIVERSITIES, AND, I GUESS, EXCHANGE COMMENTS AND RATE THEM.

SUDDENLY, THERE WAS THIS LITTLE COMMENT ON A WEBSITE RATING TEACHERS PUBLICLY.

Narrator: THOUGH IT'S JUST ONE BRIEF LINE, IT'S A LOADED ONE ON A VERY PUBLIC WEBSITE.

AND TO JIM, THE THREAT IT REPRESENTS IS ALL TOO CLEAR.

I THINK THAT WAS THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK FOR HIM.

BECAUSE THAT WAS HIS WORLD WHERE HE WAS THE, YOU KNOW, THE GREAT RHETORICIAN IN CHARGE OF HIS PERSONA.


Miriam: I THINK IT WAS ONE THING FOR HIM TO BE ASHAMED OF WHAT HE HAD DONE.

[ ELEVATOR BELL DINGS ]

BUT IT WAS A WHOLE DIFFERENT THING OF OTHER PEOPLE KNOWING WHAT HE DID...

...AND THEN HAVING TO LIVE WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE BEING OUT THERE.

[ DINGING ]

I JUST THINK THAT WAS MORE THAN HE COULD LIVE WITH.


NICK COMES IN, AND HE SAYS, "MOM, THERE'S POLICE HERE."

SO I GET OUT OF BED.

I DON'T EVEN REALIZE I'M STILL IN MY PAJAMAS.

AND THAT'S WHEN THEY SAID, "ARE YOU RELATED TO"...

I THINK WAS HOW THEY PUT IT.

"ARE YOU RELATED TO JIM AUNE?"

AND I SAID, "WELL, YEAH. HE'S MY HUSBAND."

[ Voice breaking ] NO.

MA'AM, WE'D LIKE TO STEP INSIDE.

NO!

I LET OUT THIS "ROWL."

I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE THIS SOUND CAME FROM.

IT WAS NOT A SCREAM.

IT WAS SOMETHING WAY MORE PRIMAL.

AND I JUST COLLAPSED.

Narrator: JIM HAD TAKEN HIS ONLINE.

THE HUNT FOR HIS TORMENTOR WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN.

Narrator: ON JANUARY 8, 2013, PROFESSOR JIM AUNE COMMITTED SUICIDE AFTER HIS ONLINE RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANSGENDERED GIRL WAS ABOUT TO BE MADE PUBLIC BY HIS BLACKMAILER.

WHEN POLICE RECOVERED JIM'S CELLPHONE, THEY ARE ABLE TO ACCESS HIS VOICEMAILS, WHICH INCLUDE A THREATENING MESSAGE FROM KAREN'S FATHER.

I PROMISE YOU, I GOT MORE THAN ENOUGH STUFF TO SEND TO THE SCHOOL AND SEND IT TO THE POLICE...

WHOEVER I NEED TO SEND IT TO.

I'LL SEND IT TO ALL YOUR STUDENTS.

I DON'T CARE.

Narrator: THE MESSAGE'S MENACING TONE IMMEDIATELY SUGGESTS JIM'S SUICIDE WAS MOTIVATED BY FEAR.

THE POLICE GET ON HIS COMPUTER AT A&M, AND THEY FIND SOME OF THE EXCHANGES AND THE E-MAILS THAT TIE BACK TO AN E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Narrator: BY RECOVERING JIM'S E-MAILS AND TEXTS, INVESTIGATORS ARE SOON ABLE TO MAKE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN KAREN, HER FATHER, AND HIS DEMANDS FOR MONEY.

WHENEVER YOU'RE DEALING WITH COMPUTER FORENSIC EVIDENCE, THERE ARE CHALLENGES, BECAUSE EVEN PEOPLE WITH A RUDIMENTARY KNOWLEDGE OF THE INTERNET KNOW THAT YOU CAN CREATE PERSONAS AND CREATE E-MAILS TO MATCH THOSE PERSONAS.

AND SO KAREN'S FATHER HAD TAKEN STEPS TO CREATE E-MAIL ADDRESSES TO MATCH THESE PERSONAS.

Narrator: STILL, THERE IS ONE SOLID CLUE THEY ARE ABLE TO ACT UPON.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION IS, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

AND THE MONEY LEADS THEM TO THE GREEN DOT ACCOUNT.

SO THEY TRACE THE USE OF THE GREEN DOT CARD TO A TRANSACTION AT A LOWE'S, A HOME-IMPROVEMENT STORE.

THEY OBTAIN SECURITY FOOTAGE, AND NOW THEY KNOW "THIS IS THE PERSON WE ARE LOOKING FOR."

DETECTIVE OHANA.

YES. YEAH. DO YOU HAVE A NAME?

WHAT WE FOUND OUT WAS THAT A MAN NAMED DUPLAISIR WAS, IN FACT, THE PERSON COMMITTING THE EXTORTION OF PROFESSOR AUNE.

DANIEL DUPLAISIR. HOW ARE YOU SPELLING THAT?

DUPLAISIR DOES IN FACT HAVE A DAUGHTER.

THE DAUGHTER IS INTERVIEWED.

ALL RIGHT. DO YOU HAVE AN ADDRESS?

Narrator: WHAT THE DAUGHTER REVEALS IS SHOCKING. HER NAME ISN'T KAREN, BUT SCARLETT.

SHE HAS NEVER HEARD OF JIM AUNE AND HAS NEVER HAD ANY CONTACT WITH HIM.

THERE WAS NO KAREN.

THERE WAS NO KAREN'S FATHER.

ALL OF THESE CHARACTERS WERE FIGMENTS OF DUPLAISIR'S IMAGINATION.

BUT THEY WERE VERY REAL TO PROFESSOR AUNE.

Miriam: YOU KNOW, WHAT DUPLAISIR DID WAS, HE READ JIM VERY WELL.

HE READ THAT "THIS IS SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT WANT THIS TO BECOME PUBLIC.

AND THIS IS SOMEONE THAT I CAN KEEP BLEEDING FOR A VERY LONG TIME."

Narrator: WHEN INVESTIGATORS RUN DUPLAISIR'S NAME THROUGH THE POLICE DATABASE, THEY COME UP WITH A DISTURBING REVELATION.

HE HAS A RECORD FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING HIS OWN DAUGHTER.

AND DUPLAISIR HAD FORCED HER TO POSE FOR THE EXPLICIT PHOTOGRAPHS HE HAD USED TO LURE JIM AUNE.

IT'S INCREDIBLY SAD, AND IT'S DEMONSTRATIVE OF WHAT CAN HAPPEN ONLINE.

PEOPLE HAVE FULL-BLOWN RELATIONSHIPS WITH INDIVIDUALS THAT THEY NEVER SEE, THAT THEY NEVER SPEAK TO.

AND SO ANYONE CAN BE ANYONE.

NOW IN HIGH-DEFINITION FROM THE NEWS LEADER...

Narrator: IN MARCH 2013, DANIEL DUPLAISIR IS ARRESTED.

GOOD EVENING. A MAN CONVICTED OF BLACKMAILING A TEXAS A&M PROFESSOR WILL BE IN FEDERAL COURT IN HOUSTON TOMORROW FOR THE SENTENCING PHASE OF HIS TRIAL.

DANIEL DUPLAISIR PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF EXTORTION...

Narrator: DUPLAISIR IS SENTENCED TO A YEAR IN FEDERAL PRISON.

WE ALL HAVE OUR STRUGGLES.

WE ALL HAVE OUR FLAWS.

AND I WISH THAT I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TO DO SOMETHING.

I WISH THAT HE WOULD HAVE SHARED...

PERHAPS NOT EVERYTHING, RIGHT?

BUT CERTAIN THINGS THAT I COULD HAVE BEEN A SUPPORT SYSTEM.

SINCE HE DIDN'T SHARE, I COULDN'T SUPPORT HIM.

Stob: JIM WAS BRILLIANT.

HE WAS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.

HE WAS A GENIUS IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS.

BUT THAT DIDN'T MEAN HE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF DIFFERENT PROBLEMS.

IT DIDN'T MEAN HE DIDN'T HAVE THE DARK CORNERS OF HIS LIFE.

AND I THINK IT'S GOOD TO REMEMBER THAT.

FOR ALL THE PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS JIM HAD, HE STRUGGLED WITH A LOT.

AND IT'S TRAGIC.

IT'S SAD.

HE HAD MADE THIS WORLD STARTING WITH THE BLOGGING AND THEN GOING TO FACEBOOK AND THEN TO THE VARIOUS SEXUAL WEBSITES AND ALL OF THAT.

AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, THIS INTERNET THAT WAS HIS FANTASY REALM BECAME VERY REAL.

AND I THINK THAT...

MADE ALL OF THOSE WORLDS COLLAPSE IN ON HIM, 'CAUSE IT WASN'T GONNA BE FUN ANYMORE.

IT WASN'T GONNA BE FANTASY ANYMORE.

AND THAT WAS THE END FOR HIM.