An Update on Dennis Markuze/David Mabus

It’s been a while since we’ve heard that name… For those unaware, Dennis Markuze is the Montreal resident who was infamous for making death threats to atheists online as well as spouting crazy rants, using a variety of pseudonyms and a seemingly endless supply of Twitter/Facebook handles. If you blogged or tweeted about atheism — or even commented on sites about it — you were likely one of his “victims.”

Caught on camera

Last year, thanks to pushback from a number of threat recipients, authorities finally arrested Markuze. (You should all read Tim Farley‘s extensively detailed account of how this all went down.)

That was back in August.

So what’s happening now?

After pleading guilty to charges of making the threats — and after months spent in drug/alcohol rehab — Markuze has received a suspended sentence of only 18-months. What does that mean? I’m not exactly sure. Only that he must refrain from “participating in a social network, blog and discussion forum.”

One of the counsellors at the rehab center seems uncertain of Markuze’s “recovery”:

“Since the therapy team at (Freedom House) does not have the competence necessary to make a psychiatric diagnosis, it seems to us that (Markuze) absolutely needs a follow up after he leaves the centre,” [Clement] Proulx wrote.

“He sometimes makes remarks that leave us perplexed.”

The people responsible for bringing Markuze’s case to the police in the first place aren’t happy with the judge’s decision:

William Raillant-Clark, a Montreal resident who was one of the people Markuze threatened, said he is disappointed by how the case was handled. He said he was advised of the plea bargain after it was made. He said he received a letter advising him of the sentence a couple of days ago and that it contained very little information. It made no mention of the condition Markuze is required to follow, he said.

“(The Crown) had no contact with me whatsoever. It makes you wonder what (the justice system) is all about,” Raillant-Clark said. “I’m extremely annoyed and insulted by this.”

Raillant-Clark and Tim Farley, a resident of Atlanta who was threatened by Markuze “for three or four years” said they believe Markuze resumed his anti-atheist postings even before he was sentenced. Waxman said on Friday that he asked Markuze about the allegation and said his client denied it.

“He said he only uses a computer for work,” Waxman said.

On the upside, if Markuze returns to his old ways, it’ll be easy to catch him and send him back to prison or rehab. (Hopefully, before he takes any action on his threats…) Authorities are on to him now and it’s up to Markuze to get his life back in order.

(Thanks to GodlessPoutine for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Suspended sentence is a bit like the carrot and the stick.  He actually received an 18 month sentence; however, it was suspended upon him following the terms and conditions of the suspension.  So, if anybody hears as much as one peep from the guy, contact the prosecutor and request that the sentence be imposed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=684968309 Charles M Taylor

       I don’t know if you are aware, but he’s been active off and on for the whole time he’s been out.  He’s got an account on dissidentphilosophy and an active youtube one (xviolatex) as well.

      • Michael

        If any of these accounts are active after his sentence was passed, inform the relevant authorities that he is in breach of the terms of his suspended sentence and he can be sent to prison.

      • judith sanders

        He’ll probably just get a service that switches your IP around, like Anonymizer.

        • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

          Shhhh, don’t give him any ideas. ;-)

          Actually, because of prior complaints to his home ISP, he was in the habit of using WiFi connections at coffee shops and colleges and so on  while posting threats.

    • Tom

      I gather that the general consensus is that DM is (or, we can but hope, was) mentally ill.  Unfortunately, one cannot always expect conventional incentives or threats of punishment like these to work properly on such people.

  • Rich Lane

    My concern isn’t that he’ll continue in his old ways.  If he does, he’ll certainly be caught. 
    My concern is that he isn’t getting the help he definitely needs. 

  • GodlessPoutine

    Hemant, thanks for the mention!

    I wonder what he would have gotten if he had made similar threats to Jews or Muslims, for example.  I’m guessing there would have been more of an outcry and possibly harsher sentence.

    • http://www.qidiq.com Jonathan Abrams

      But I’m Jewish, and was one of the 8.

      • GodlessPoutine

        I stand corrected.  Reading the comments here I changed my mind and that I likely just knee-jerked.

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      Do you have evidence for this? My impression is that Markuze has been treated in a pretty standard way. 

      • GodlessPoutine

        The more I thought it over, the more I realized what he really needs is psychological help and close monitoring.  So I think I was false with my initial comment.

  • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

    Hey, thanks for the blog plug!  

    One of the good news bits not included in that news story is he is forbidden to contact the 8 people associated with the 8 counts of threats, for the next 18 months.  Those 8 people are Jonathan Abrams, William Raillant-Clark, myself, Heather Henderson, James Randi, David Almand Smith, Steve Thoms and Kyle VanderBeek.

    • Coyotenose

      Very nice coverage!

      The related bad news there is that those eight are not all the people that he has threatened and obsessed over. :(

      • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

        Around the time of the arrest, I coordinated with the detective about gathering victim reports, since I was most familiar with the scope of Markuze’s campaign.  I tweeted several times that she wanted victims to put on her list, and many people contacted me who I relayed to her (including several of the people on that list above, like Steve Thoms and James Randi).

        I even individually emailed several bloggers who have repeatedly blogged about Markuze in the past, and told them that they needed to contact the detective so she could list them as victims of Markuze’s abuse on the charge sheet and on the “no future contact” list.  

        They replied to me so I know they got my emails. I can only surmise from their names being missing from the list that those bloggers never bothered to follow up.

        The thing about skeptical/atheist activism is: it requires that you ACT.  Sometimes that requires persistence, not just one email or a blog post.

        I think there’s a lesson in this.

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    Just an FYI: USAians (of which I am one) are often confused by what’s considered an appropriate sentence in civilized countries. Markuze’s 18-month suspended sentence is based on hard data related to recidivism and mental health. Will he spend the rest of life in and out of the mental health institutions and criminal systems? Likely.  Will he be a threat to himself and others? Unlikely.

    Canada and the other developed Western nations have a less draconian justice system than the  United States for a good reason.

    But hey, we’re better than China! USA! USA! USA!

  • Renshia

     So I wonder what people think is an appropriate response is?
    Raillant-Clark said “The Crown) had no contact with me whatsoever.” Okay, but why would they need to get a hold of him. If Markuze cooperated and began treatment then who’s to say he didn’t learn his lesson.  You say he is back on the net, but is he threatening anyone? Or just being a  dick? Well, everyone has a right to be a dick. We may not like it, but I think we need to keep the Rack put away for now.

    But then again, it might just be the time to open up some dialog about building an arena and buying some lions.

    Wink wink, nudge nudge…..

    • Yukimi

      If his being out of jail conditions include not using social media and the like and he is doing, he should go to jail. Plain and simple.

      Also, for f*cks sake, mandate him to go to a psychiatrist just in case.

    • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

      Well I can’t speak for William, but from my perspective as one of the listed victims, I expected the court to contact me and at least notify me of the terms of his release, and tell me what to do if I feel he has violated them. Back when he was arrested, the detective gathered everyone’s name & contact info ostensibly for this purpose.

      As for “is he threatening anyone” – his posts on the net were from last December to two days before he pled guilty.  My understanding from both the Montreal Police and Markuze’s own defense attorney was that he was under a “no internet at all” order during that period.  His posts at lifediscussions.net certainly violate the “no discussion forums” part of the final order as well.  Montreal Police was notified of this in December and on May 17, prior to his plea.

      We’re not trying to be asses, I want to see him get treatment as well.  But a court order is a court order, we just want to see the judge’s ruling be properly enforced.

      • Shawn

        Don’t expect the authorities to do any kind of communication. When my wife’s car was stolen in Nova Scotia, they called to tell her it was beside the road somewhere and to pick it that afternoon or it would be towed at her expense.  A few months later, half a dozen cop cars stopped her.  Apparently, the police who tell you to pick up your stolen car don’t notify the rest of the department when a vehicle has been recovered.  Similarly, I heard nothing about the guy who was caught driving my stolen car in Newfoundland.  The lesson I take is that the victim needs to assume control of communication.  I don’t know if it is incompetence, or just not part of their mandate.

      • Draken

        I’m fairly certain I’ve seen Markuze postings on Fundies Say The Darndest Things, only a few weeks ago. The site owner wiped them out, but there are still comments around that reveal he was there.

      • Draken

        I’m fairly certain I’ve seen Markuze postings on Fundies Say The Darndest Things, only a few weeks ago. The site owner wiped them out, but there are still comments around that reveal he was there.

        • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

          That was always the tough thing with his non-email posts: they would get deleted by site owners very quickly. Those of us who collected Twitter threats to give to the police last year had to act very quickly sometimes, they would get algorithmically deleted by Twitter within minutes.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    Been wondering about this guy lately.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Unfortunately there is no magic bullet in assisting people who are addicts and/or have mental disorders.  Even if he gets all the services in the world the man may wake up one day and start using (drugs) or fall back into old, maladaptive habits. His case may be one of the reasons why some atheists decide to buy a gun.

  • Ben Bradley

    I’ve been following Tim Farley on Twitter, and while I’ve had no personal contact from Mabus, I’ve followed the case through Tim’s tweets and blogposts. After Mabus was arrested and was sent to “alcohol/drug rehab” (I don’t recall the exact wording), I immediately suspected he was being sent to a 12-step-based facility, just on the fact that  about 95 percent of all alcohol and drug treatment centers in the US (and probably a lower percentage in Canada, but likely still the majority) are 12-step based.

    For “full disclosure, ” my hobby horse is fighting coercion to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups (many judges and “drug courts” in the US do this either directly or indirectly despite rulings that it violates the First Amendment), and making others aware of such groups’ religious nature  – I’ve commented before on Friendly Atheist’s blog regarding “atheist” AA groups being delisted from a local list of AA meetings).

    I don’t know if this is “Freedom House” in Quebec is the same one Mabus went to in Canada, but it definitely uses 12-step methodology:
    http://freedomhouse.hdunivers.net/freedom-house/

    • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

      It does seem likely that’s the one he was at, Ben, it’s very close to Montreal where he was arrested.

  • Markita Lynda

    I thought I’d heard that he was threatening people again a few months ago.

    Is this “Xviolatex” [unknown violate law?] Dennis Markuze? Dennis Markuze & Nostradamus vs. James Randi, Richard Dawkins, and Michael Shermer – TAM 2011, “How the divine pen of michel nostradamus crushed the modern atheist movement” from Dissident Philosophy: Boobquake 911? Also Atheist Hotelz, Atheist Paradisez, etc. 

    I think he’s still around and still morphing. 

    • http://twitter.com/krelnik Tim Farley

      Yes, Markita, Xviolatex is the channel that Markuze used last year.  He posted in it at least twice recently, once in March and once on May 17.  This is the basis of the complaints in the last few paragraphs of the Montreal Gazette story that Hemant links to in the main post.

      I haven’t seen any evidence he has posted since May 20, which was prior to his plea, however.  If you see any please bring it to my attention.

      • Nox

        Markuze posted here and here on August 7.

  • The Other Weirdo

    In a province where almost every town outside of Quebec and Montreal has the word “Saint” in front of it, it’s not too surprising that they would be lenient toward a guy who hates atheists. Or is just crazy.

    Thus ends the paranoid rant of the day.

  • http://twitter.com/ObviousDisaster Marc Hall

    Looks like Dennis is back to his old habits of posting junk, over at EVC anyway.

    http://www.evcforum.net/dm.php?control=msg&t=16489

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CE4UHMT2LAQBYOBFZL7YCYLCFI JR

    He’s back, posting weird comments about “how the divine pen of Michel Nostradamus crushed the international atheist movement.” Where do I report him?

  • http://www.facebook.com/reddbrad Brad Reddekopp

    Looks to me like Markuze is back to his old ways:  http://www.graveyardofthegods.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=178072#p178072

  • Vivisectus

    Hey guys – looks like Mabus Rides Again. This post popped up 2 days ago 
    http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=26787

    Same old nonsense, only now he is cunningly pretending he is… Not Dennis Markuze!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    It seems as though he left a comment on my blog today: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/08/is-dennis-markuze-back.html

    Hopefully this can be drawn to the attention of whoever is overseeing the terms of his suspended sentence, and get this dealt with in an appropriate manner.

  • MikeMa

    It would seem Mabus or someone using the nym davemabus and sounding like him has found freethoughtblogs and has made comments there on several blogs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

    He’s still posting:

    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4323 (see 
    drmab )


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