B.C. man Patrick Fox aims to 'destroy' ex-wife with revenge website
Fox posted emails he wrote saying, if it were legal, he'd have 'no qualms' about shooting ex-wife
Patrick Fox says he wants "to destroy" his ex-wife with an online campaign from his Burnaby, B.C., home.
He created a website in her name full of vulgar content and demeaning images and purporting to describe details of her sex life. He also posted about her partners, friends and mother — updating the site dozens of times since 2014.
Desiree Capuano, who lives near Tucson, Ariz., with the couple's son, told CBC News a co-worker first alerted her to the site, after the URL was emailed to all of her contacts on the business social network LinkedIn.
The site calls her a drug addict, a child abuser and a white supremacist. She says it has harmed her ability to find work.
A "completely enraged and mortified" Capuano has fought to get the site shut down, appealing to U.S. and Canadian police and the internet provider to help and asking Fox to let go of what she calls his "sick fixation."
"There has got to be a way to take that down," Capuano said. "He told me once that his ultimate goal was to make me commit suicide. I won't let him win."
[I promised] I'd devote the rest of my life to doing everything I could, legally of course, to ruin her life and destroy her.–Patrick Fox (a.k.a. Richard Riess)
Experts say there are a growing number of victims of online revenge attacks, where damaging intimate and personal content is posted.
Fox is defiant. He told CBC News nothing short of Capuano's death or "when she is destitute and homeless" will prompt him to take down the site.
"She ruined both of our lives," said Fox, who blames Capuano for taking his son and having him deported to Canada.
Fox arrested in July, no charges laid
Capuano took her complaints to local sheriffs in Arizona, the FBI, the hosts of the website and several lawyers, but says she could not afford the legal fees to fight her case in civil court.
In December 2015, an Arizona judge issued a protective order that stopped Fox from sending her emails — but did not order the website be taken down.
Fox's site and the couple's email exchanges were also investigated by Burnaby RCMP. In July 2015, Fox was arrested and the RCMP recommended a charge of criminal harassment. The Crown did not approve the charge and Fox was released.
"The actual comments used by the perpetrator in this case, we couldn't conclude that that would cause the complainant to have an objective fear for their personal safety," said Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch.
"In this case, the fact the people live in different countries played a part in that assessment."
Lawyer questions Crown's decision
CBC News provided the emails and documents Capuano says she gave police to a lawyer who has experience as a prosecutor and defence counsel in cases of criminal harassment. After reviewing the files, Kevin Westell disagrees with the Crown's assessment of this case.
"The fear of personal safety can include psychological safety. If psychological harm is being inflicted by actions that are communicated over a distance, it just simply doesn't matter that this person is far away."
"I don't know what it would take other than him actually physically shooting me for them to think that I was at risk," said Capuanao, furious that Canadian authorities don't understand how much she fears for her safety and that of her son.
Westell told CBC that Canadian police and prosecutors need more resources to deal with a growing number of online attacks.
"To hide behind your desk and your computer and stalk is just so easy now, because technology is just so easy to use by anyone."
Seeks to 'ruin her life and destroy her'
Fox and Capuano split up in 2001, when their son was 18 months old, back when Fox went by his birth name, Richard Riess.
Capuano said Fox hid the child from her for years in Arizona. Mother and son were reunited in 2011 when Fox served a two-year sentence for perjury, after he falsely claimed he was American.
Fox told CBC that Capuano abandoned their son for years.
Whatever the truth of their beginnings, the end result was an ultimatum.
After Fox was deported to B.C., he demanded Capuano return their son to him, he told CBC, or he would "devote the rest of my life to doing everything I could, legally of course, to ruin her life and destroy her."
Fox posted intimate images and derogatory editorials about Capuano, including snaps of her in bed with a partner, images of her bedroom and a 2012 mug shot from a marijuana possession charge that did not result in a conviction.
Fox has 'no qualms'
One of the posts on Fox's website details an email exchange between him and the couple's son, in which the teen asked if Fox would ever shoot his mother.
Fox wrote back that he'd have "no qualms" about killing Capuano if that was legal — and then he posted about it online.
"No qualms right … means no moral dilemma. That doesn't mean that I would actually do it," Fox told CBC.
"There is nothing illegal about wanting to harm someone as long as you don't act on it," Fox said.
Seeking revenge porn
Fox admits he often copies his son on emails to Capuano, including about his plan to hire somebody to obtain sexually explicit photos to post on the website.
"I'd have to hire someone to get close to you, pretend to be interested in you … gain your trust, then eventually sleep with you," he said in an email January 2015.
"I fully admit it doesn't look good," Fox told CBC. "It would make me look like a very nasty person I'm sure. But when people then consider the things that she has done and the reasons why I am so mean to her, I think that mitigates some of the nastiness."
The Crown told CBC the case is not closed, and it would look at it again if police obtained new evidence.
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