Skip to main content

She has pleaded guilty to harassment, accused a former boyfriend of discussing national security issues in bed, and has now been dumped via Wikipedia.

Leave it to Rachel Marsden, a Canadian woman with a controversial past, to bring sex scandal to an online encyclopedia and provide a cautionary tale for love in the time of electronic communication.

On Saturday, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales posted a statement on the site about his romantic entanglement with Ms. Marsden, the 33-year-old conservative pundit perhaps best known for sexual harassment charges she once brought against a swim coach at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Marsden, who was fired from Fox News last year, apparently made Mr. Wales's acquaintance two years ago in an e-mail asking him to intervene in the editing of her online biography, which she claimed included libellous information. "I subsequently reviewed her bio and I found it not to be up to our standards," he wrote on the site this weekend.

But Mr. Wales also claims to have recused himself from any involvement with her page after the two began a personal relationship, a position that seems to be contradicted by instant messages Ms. Marsden has since provided to the gossip site Valleywag.com.

"Let's actually do this right now because the last thing I want to do is take a break from fucking your brains out all night to work on your Wikipedia entry :)" Mr. Wales wrote.

Since Mr. Wales posted his Wikipedia mea culpa, apparently ending the pair's relationship, Ms. Marsden has unleashed a cyberspace tit-for-tat or, in this case, tit-for-T-shirt. On Sunday, she posted two ads on eBay, offering for sale a T-shirt and sweater owned by Mr. Wales.

"Hi, my name is Rachel and my (now ex) boyfriend, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, just broke up with me via an announcement on Wikipedia," she writes in the auction posting. "It was such a classy move that I was inspired to do something equally classy myself."

Her name first became known as the centre of a 1990s sex scandal at Simon Fraser, when she alleged sexual harassment by her swim coach, who was fired and later reinstated.

The coach claimed she had stalked him, allegations that were never proven.

Story continues below advertisement

In 2004, Ms. Marsden was given a conditional discharge with one year's probation for criminally harassing a Vancouver radio host following their breakup.

Since then, she has attempted to position herself as a conservative talking head, maintaining a blog of her political commentary. She was fired from the show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld last year and has briefly written columns for both the Sun chain of newspapers and the National Post.

Most recently, Ms. Marsden accused a former boyfriend, a counterterrorism officer for the Ontario Provincial Police, of leaking secret documents to her, and even posted online X-rated photographs she claimed he had sent her.

In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail yesterday, she declined to comment on the situation with Mr. Wales. "My only focus right now, to be really honest, is on my career and finding a way to get back into print, TV, or radio here in NYC," she wrote. "All of this other personal stuff is just an unfortunate distraction."

Ms. Marsden is not the only individual to gain widespread notoriety by making details of her private life public on the Internet.

Last August, the New York-based media gossip site Gawker published an e-mail from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler to five of his graduate students at Florida State University. In it, the 62-year-old described the end of his 12-year marriage to 44-year-old writer Elizabeth Dewberry, who had left him for communications magnate Ted Turner.

Story continues below advertisement

"I want to tell the full and nuanced story ... and ask that you clarify the issues for any of your fellow grad students who ask," he wrote. "This sort of thing can get wildly distorted pretty quickly."

Mr. Butler then told his students Ms. Dewberry had been molested by her grandfather, had a troubled relationship with her previous husband, and lived in the constant shadow of his Pulitzer.

New York-based journalist Julia Allison, a former sex columnist and current editor-at-large of Star magazine, became widely known after starting a blog with Internet entrepreneur and then-boyfriend Jakob Lodwick, which chronicled the minutiae of their romantic relationship.

Last November, Ms. Allison defended the exercise on their site, JakobandJulia.com, saying, "that's what this experiment is about - delving into the inner workings of a real relationship, with all its flaws."

But the relationship did not survive those flaws, and after the couple broke up most of the blog postings were erased, leaving one final message of regret from Ms. Allison.

"Technically, I've just made the posts private. Which is what they should have been in the first place," she wrote. "It's always humbling to realize you've made an enormous mistake, but I know that, at the very least, my public relationship struggles in the last seven months made others feel less alone. They certainly taught me quite a lesson ... just not the lesson I thought I would learn."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter