You may have caught the story on the Jez mainpage about a wealthy woman who posted a craigslist ad for a woman’s study tutor for her 22 year old son. Ruth Graham of Slate decided to follow up the story in a reporterly way and discovered that the entire thing is the trolling of a prolific online harasser of women.
When we got off the phone, I Googled Nate’s father, but I couldn’t find any lawyers in California with his name. There didn’t seem to be a psychoanalyst named Alexandra Rose who had a public profile, either. For that matter, “Nate Schermer” himself was basically a cipher. I emailed Elizabeth Marchant to find out if Nate was in her Gender Studies 10 class. “I’m not teaching this quarter,” she wrote back, “so there’s no question about the fact that I’m not his instructor.” The email address that Rose had given me for Nate was connected to a guy named Nader Kashani online and Nate Kashani on Facebook. (Maybe it was just the name and the Southern California location, but I wondered aloud if I had somehow wandered into an episode of Nathan for You.)
I called “Nate” back. “This is kind of weird,” I said, “but I can’t seem to verify who you are in any of the usual ways, and I can’t find anything online about your parents. Can you help me out?” He texted me a link to his Facebook profile and quickly offered some more details on his parents: His mother works for the Los Angeles Superior Court, and his father, Robert Schermer, is “a lawyer by trade and long time chairman emeritus of a major hospital system.” “Nathan Schermer”’s Facebook profile photo was brand new, and it was the same one Nader/Nate Kashani used. He declined to accept my friend request, texting, “I don’t think you want to see what I’ve discussed on my FB page. [thumbs up emoji, silly wink emoji, laugh-crying emoji].”
The photo “Kashani” and “Schermer” used for their profiles was the same one used by a man named Nader Modgeddi. Here, the online trail gets uglier. “Nader Modgeddi is a student at Penn State University who harasses Women on social media,” the anti-harassment site Male Violence reported. That site has saved files of almost 40 pages of vile tweets Modgeddi directed at various women in 2014, including some calling activist Caitlin Roper a “feminist slut,” among many worse things. Roper wrote about Schermer/Kashani/Modgeddi in a 2014 Guardian column titled “Being Pimped Out Online by Misogynist Harassers Will Not Stop Me From Speaking Out”:
“The man who targeted me has been identified. His name is Nader, he is 25 and lives in California. He has been linked to at least eight different twitter accounts he uses to abuse women. In fact, the first rape threats he sent me came from the fake account he had created of yet another feminist campaigner he had been targeting.
“He is so brazen about his incitement to rape me, so sure of his invulnerability, that he barely even tried to conceal his real identity. Unfortunately for him, in the course of harassing countless women he left a trail leading to his name, image, phone number, email address, Facebook page and pictures of him exposing his erect penis.”
Twitter is littered with complaints about Nate’s behavior, women warning other women away from him.
Finally I told him I would be writing about this either way, and I’d be happy to speak again if he wanted to be honest with me. He called, and ’fessed up. He’s 27, not 22, and he’s not enrolled at UCLA. He used multiple aliases online, he said, because he’s been burned by using his real name online in the past. He made up the ad “to see what kind of responses it would get,” though he couldn’t explain exactly what he was hoping for. The whole thing was “sort of like a joke,” he explained.
This casts the ad posted by “Nate’s” “mother” in a scarier light: A guy accused of serial harassment of women places an ad seeking an expert in feminism to meet with him in person.