A notorious alt-right troll from Virginia who played a major role in the harassment of women in the video game industry was arrested in late August after he drunkenly passed out in a hotel lobby, then assaulted a sheriff’s deputy when he came to.
Game developer Brianna Wu wrote at the Daily Dot that 30-year-old Ethan Ralph was arrested on charges unrelated to his “doxing” and coordinated harassment of women online, but she hopes that his arrest will cause officials to “finally take his threat to public safety more seriously.”
A report from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said that just before 7 a.m. on Aug. 27, the department received a report of a man passed out in the lobby of the Executive Conference and Training Center near Dulles International Airport.
Deputies arrived at the scene and attempted to wake Mr. Ralph, who turned combative when he was roused. He attacked a deputy and was immediately arrested and taken into police custody. He was charged with two counts of felony assault and one count of obstruction of justice.
“He is currently being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center without bond,” said the police report.
Ethan Ralph played a central role in the targeted harassment of women in gaming known by the media as “Gamergate.” He maliciously published the private contact information of multiple women gamers and their allies, including detailed charts of Brianna Wu’s home, photos of her car and even the names of her pets.
The victims of Gamergate were harassed with threats of assault, rape and murder. Ralph published Wu’s information on Medium.com, which pulled the post down.
“After the post was taken down, Ralph was eager to republish it. The viral post even included diagrams of the interior of my house, recreated from photos, which was terrifying. For my family, the personal information leaked in this post led to an avalanche of credit card fraud, hacking attempts on my game studio, and even hundreds of dollars of false Steam transactions filed in an identity theft incident,” Wu said.
She continued, “I’m far from the only woman Ralph has targeted. Earlier this year, Ralph violated a Nintendo employee’s private life and published sensational and irrelevant details in an attempt to get her fired. He’s also known to out members of the LGBT community, especially transgender women, who face some of the starkest rates of murder per capita with hate crimes.”
Law enforcement officials remain woefully behind the times with regards to prosecuting internet hate crimes like threats and doxing. No one was charged for the Gamergate onslaught, partly due to the fact that — unlike Ralph — most online harassers conceal their identity behind screen names.
Ralph, on the other hand, was loud and proud about his vendetta against women and LGBT people in gaming. His blog, The Ralph Retort, acted as a hub for harassment campaigns against Wu, developer Zoe Quinn and dozens of others.
Legal expert Chris Jaramillo told Wu that prosecutors have some discretion about how they handle cases involving assaults on officers. Many times the charges are reduced to disorderly conduct if the defendant will enter a guilty plea.
However, Jaramillo said, the fact that he was denied bail indicates that the sheriff’s office may be pursuing the case more aggressively.
“Being denied bail is usually indicative of more uncouth behavior against an officer than what is normal,” he explained. ““Each case is handled differently depending on the totality of the circumstances. This would include prior arrest records that could lead prosecutors to pursue a higher sentence or even other charges. However, if this is a first-time offense, not including civil suits for assault, then a prosecutor will likely attempt to offer a plea deal for a lesser charge and less harsh sentence. Of course, it depends on their jurisdiction.”
Wu wrote, “The prosecutor for Ethan Ralph’s case is Eric Shamus in Loudoun County. As he proceeds, I hope he will recognize just how much havoc this Gamergate instigator has caused, and how much havoc he intends to keep causing.”