Yesterday I received a sobering email from Lilah Weston, wife of Chase Weston, author of Terror in a Cloud of Dust. She and her husband had just learned that his story had been plagiarized by the same author who copied my story, A Bid For Love.
Subsequently I talked to Lilah on the phone, with her husband by her side. They are going through many of the emotions I did when I discovered the plagiarism of my novel. And you know what? While it has been extremely difficult and time-consuming and violating for me, I think it must be far worse for Chase, who lived through the very personal experience he shared. To have his real-life experienced used without his permission is heartbreaking.
This is exactly why I began this battle—to stop this from happening to others. Plagiarism isn’t a victimless crime. Below is Lilah’s letter (posted with her permission) to Sam Taylor Mullens:
This is an open letter to Tiffanie Rushton, aka Sam Taylor Mullens: Author of Hasty Resolution.
My name is Lilah Weston; I am the wife of Spc. Chase Weston, US ARMY-Retired.
I want to start by stating that this letter is in regards to the obvious theft and plagiarism of other authors’ original work that Tiffanie Rushton/ Sam Taylor Mullens took and published and sold as her own. I apologize if my sentences run on, or if I miss any punctuation as this is an original draft that nobody else had previously written for my convenience to copy, play around with and put my name on—and this is just coming out of my brain as I type.
Here’s a little background to catch any other readers up . . .
September 9th, 2014 My husband received an email of a John Doppler Blog showing a side by side comparison of Terror in a Cloud of Dust by Chase Weston, and the opening pages of Hasty Resolution by Sam Taylor Mullens (which is a pen name for Tiffanie Rushton) It was absolutely mind blowing; other than the omissions of the profanity my husband originally wrote they were nearly identical.
We read the blog and googled like crazy to find out all the information we could get online and found out that Tiffanie Rushton has also been suspected of doing this to another author Rachel Ann Nunes. I looked for side by side comparisons of her story that was copied and it was again the same manipulation of an original piece published years prior. (I encourage everyone to see for themselves www.johndopp.com.)
My husband is amazing as he has been through hell and back, and is a wonderful husband and father. Chase served in Iraq in 2005 with the 3rd Infantry Division. Chase was a Gunner on a Humvee for his companies First Sergeant. His average day included 1-3 IED attacks and small arms fire. In 2005 Chase woke up from a normal days patrol in Germany after his Humvee ran over an IED, and he was immediately medically retired from the military due to injuries.
The story that Sam Taylor Mullens/ Tiffanie Rushton copied was an account of one of the worst days of Chase’s life. The original draft of Terror in a Cloud of Dust was written by Chase during a trauma workshop at “Pathway Home” which in a residential rehabilitation program for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who suffer from clinically diagnosed and progressive PTSD. It took a lot for Chase to put his story down on paper, he did however want to heal from the events and felt that he might help some of the other Soldiers who were trying to do the same. It has always been hard for him to share this story, and to have it shared with everyone on the Internet has always upset him a little in the first place, but to have someone take it and use it and claim it to be their own has him just disgusted.
My husband feels this to be a personal attack on his character, his service, and to the Military—every soldier and family member affected by these events. Sam Taylor Mullens has no idea what her actions have done to him, my husband has not slept well since he found out. Veterans are very tough people to treat, so much trauma at such a young age changes any person; my husband who was in some of the more deadly areas in Iraq and has lost many of his friends. My husband is very strong, he has a great heart, but nothing takes away the sadness and regret of combat. I understand the full extent of his emotional scars, as I hear him dialogue the past in his sleep. My husband was medically retired and honorably discharged with quite the impressive unit, company and personal record of service. The third infantry has had soldiers like Audie Murphy the most decorated WWII hero, and Ike the former president of the United States. Chase has so much pride in what he did, right or wrong in public opinion; he was there for the man next to him. Taking something this personal is just the same as taking the KIA bracelet off his wrist to remember his best friend who didn’t make it home. Mind you I have been with my husband for almost 6 years and have never seen that bracelet come off.
Although I have not read Hasty Resolution I did read all the reviews. Once we realized that it was of an erotic genre we became even more upset. I’m not trying to bash on authors or readers of these kinds of books, but that is not anything that Chase would have ever allowed his writing to be used in, as he is the proud father of 3 young kids and someday down the road when our descendants use the Internet to learn about us this will come up, because the Internet is FOREVER and this is not what he would like to be remembered as a part of. My husband got help for himself and worked so hard to get better, years of therapy, ups and downs, and that writing of his was something he was actually proud of, and now he feels that is something cheap and ruined. Ruined by a complete stranger with no consideration for the soldiers who were there that day.
We were also blown away that Tiffanie Rushton is an elementary school teacher, as kids are very impressionable and tend to admire their teachers at that age. I wonder how the parents of her students are handling the news that she has committed these acts. Teachers are supposed to set a standard, and have integrity, and be honest and stand against plagiarism as it is a big deal. I truly hope that the administrators of that district have something to say about this.
In closing I hope that you get this letter Mrs. Rushton, and I hope you feel shame for what you have done, I hope you apologize to everyone you stole from, and I hope that you realize you did this to yourself—this is nobody’s fault but your own. And I hope that Rachel Ann Nunes gets her day in court. You have not only stolen Chase and Rachel’s stories but you have stolen time from them that they could have spent with their family, you have triggered my husband’s PTSD, which will take him some time to come back from.
You have done wrong, you have hurt people, you have disrespected the Military that fights to protect you and your family, I really hope you find it in yourself to be honest and hold yourself accountable.
30 Responses to “Open letter to Tiffanie Rushton AKA Sam Taylor Mullens”
Piracy, Plagiarism, and Impersonation - Part 2 of 3 | Self-Publishing Advice Center
[…] turned up other violations, including the unauthorized use of a Gulf War veteran’s deeply personal essay as the prologue of one of the plagiarized […]
She is worse than repugnant. As a veteran, I feel that she should be prosecuted not only for theft, but under the "Stolen Valor Act". If the current wording of the Act doesn't allow for this to be prosecutable, then the law should be revised. To steal the story of a man who has spilled his own blood for this country is unspeakably vile. At the very least, she has amply demonstrated that she lacks the moral fiber to be anywhere near a child and I hope that her school board has realized this. Unfortunately, if she is not terminated for cause or prosecuted then she will have another teaching job next year.
Wow, on November 2, 2014 at 10:10 AM (months after getting caught), she was still pretending to be other people defending herself? Just admit what you did was wrong and apologize! Either the woman is very scared of the consequences she'll be facing in court or she's a sociopath incapable of remorse. What's scary to me is if she really believes she's the victim. That would hint at a personality disorder.
Are you implying that the victims, Chase and his wife, should remain silent? That they shouldn't share their grief and let people know what happened to them? Is their suffering meaningless? No matter what your relationship is with Tiffanie, she is NOT the victim here in ANY way. Anything that has happened to her is through her own choices and actions. She is a criminal. She is the kind of criminal that shows no remorse for her actions and will use anyone to satisfy her needs. I'd be careful if I were you, if she is willing to use the names of her students to promote pornography, she could very easily turn on you too.
Christ also said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's." Rushton broke the law. Plain and simple. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, and as citizens and disciples, we are to stand against evil and illegal activity, not condone it. All evil needs to succeed is for good men and women to do nothing. I'm proud of Rachel and the stand that she's taken. There is nothing un-Christlike about calling a thief a thief.
The letter "doesn't help" Rushton? Wow. Well, she does seem to have plenty of people to help her. Oh, wait, those are her aliases. I think this is her posting. She posted similar comments under the children's names trying to hide what she was doing. Shame on her for trying to use religion to hide her activities.
Rachel Ann Nunes
Tiffanie Rushton is not the victim here. By God’s own law we can choose our actions but not the consequences of those actions. Rushton has deliberately hurt many people. She stole stories from authors and claimed she was doing them a “favor.” She used eight-year-old children’s real names and email addresses to defame my work and viciously abuse me publicly and privately. The timeline of reviews proves intent. She has thus far shown absolutely no remorse to me, to Chase Weston, or the children and their parents.
So, no, Tiffanie Rushton does not get to use religion to sweep her actions under the rug or to guilt victims into silence.
In the scriptures the Lord has little tolerance for those who harm others. Sins will be “shouted from the rooftops” and it would be better that a “millstone be placed” around a sinner’s neck and thrown into water than to harm a child. Christ overthrew the money changers in the temple. He BOLDLY stood up for what was right.
I believe in forgiveness, I believe in redemption. I hope someday Rushton seeks that because I know Chase and I and the children’s parents are absolutely willing to extend that to her. But we DO NOT have to allow her to continue to victimize us or to remain quiet so she can victimize others.
I’m proud to offer Chase and his wife a place where they can voice their dismay and hurt so they can begin to heal from this terrible violation. I personally have been suffering terrible anxiety since her attacks and I know just how horrible it has been. Tiffanie Rushton could speed healing along for all of us, but so far she has denied everything, despite all the proof, so apparently this will instead be settled in a long drawn-out court case.
I personally know Tiffanie Rushton. I do NOT condone what she did, and know that what she did was wrong, but do you think this letter is going to actually help her? I feel that posting this letter is to inspire hatred for another person. What of forgiveness and love? Yes, you are a victim of her dishonesty, but the Lord also taught, "blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." I have not seen her in many years, but I love her very much. She showed me love and a kind hand when I needed it. I'm sorry that she did this to you and others. But aren't we supposed to, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you?"
Love this letter so much.
P.S. Please convince Chase to write more.
Cindy C Bennett
This is so horrible. My son is in the USAF and I would be sickened to think someone would take his experiences, which are extremely personal to him, and turn them into something that is the complete opposite of how he intends to have them remembered. I'm so sorry for your husband. Hopefully he knows that anyone who has an inkling of a conscience is in his corner.
This just keeps getting worse. But I do believe it will get better.
You'll get your day in court, Rachel. We'll all be standing behind you, even if only in spirit and from a long distance. And the Westons will also be vindicated.
Best of luck.
She has done something else that is despicable. She used the names of some of her students to create socks.
Red the words in red font.
I don't think she has a conscience. Her repugnant acts seem to be without end. It has been learned that Tiffanie Rushton was using some of her students' names as socks.
(read the item in red font in this link: http://weavingataleortwo.blogspot.com/2014/09/plagiarism-update.html?showComment=1410550862342 )
Lilah and Chase Weston, it is disheartening to learn about the theft of not only your words, but the disrespectful manner in which they were used. However these things are not a reflection upon you or your service and sacrifice for the rest of us. As readers and writers, and citizens, we feel deeply indebted to you for the courage and bravery you displayed as you fought for the freedoms our country represents. Thank you for the courage that it took not only to fight for our country, but to then write about it in a way that would help you and your fellowmen returning from war to come to a place of healing. Please know that your courage and service is what you will be remembered for, not this terribly unfortunate situation of theft. Your character and integrity will speak louder and stand much longer than the warped words of the thief who stole from you. God bless you and thank you for your service.
I have been thinking so much about this lady since I first heard about this, trying to understand how she could think it was ok to do this. Not right. She could never have thought that. But ok, as in, "It's no big deal." Perhaps she asked herself, "Why not?" Or maybe just, "I won't get caught." Well she was caught, and her desperate attempts to cover her behind were spurred on by her private knowledge that she had so much more to hide than anyone suspected. It was of course, this. I suspect that as she stole these words, they just looked like black symbols on a page. That's the no big deal part. That's why her own writing is so dead. She has no concept that it is the truth behind the symbols that breathes life into them. All good writers draw from their life when they write. Sometimes, as in Chase Weston's case, they write because of what they lived. So alone, under the secure blanket of anonymity she stole something, believing that it would never be found out. And now, even more alone, she is beginning to comprehend the enormity of what she has done. She is beginning to realize that she has taken so much more than symbols arranged into words into sentences into stories. She has stolen hearts, ideas, and truths. What she has taken continues to take. Plagiarism is just the beginning of the theft, for now she has taken time, trust, emotional well-being, and identity. As she is slowly buried beneath the weight of what she has done, as the full-realization overwhelms her, I can only say that I pity her – for as the crime is so much greater than she supposed, so too will be the consequences and the guilt. Too late she knows the answer to that question, "Why not?" I hope it is a warning to all who may ever be tempted to tread this path.
To Lilah and Chase Weston, hold your heads high, as you have nothing to be ashamed of or regret. And Tiffanie Rushton's theft mars only her reputation, which she has destroyed of her own volition. No one made her plagiarize–she chose to steal. Lastly, to Chase, I commend you for your service, and I found your article emotional and rich, deserving of nothing but praise. This unfortunate experience will serve only to spread the word of your beautiful essay. I will tweet and post on Facebook, so everyone knows of your service, sacrifice, and immeasurable legacy.
Thanks for posting this, Rachel. And to Mrs. Weston and your fantastic husband, I too am on your side. When I first learned that the plagiarist had stolen, not only from Rachel, but from a wounded veteran as well, my jaw dropped. I felt truly sick. And when I read the screen shot of her claim that she had not plagiarized her first work, then saw the side by side comparisons to Sgt Weston's words, and saw that she had indeed stolen his own deeply personal words, I felt like something heavy had just settled in my gut. My brother served in Iraq, and if someone took his personal experiences and tried to pretend they were her words, I would feel like something precious had been stolen from him.
Ugh, these poor people. 🙁 I've been following this whole thing since she stole your book. Even more than what she did initially, her response has been absolutely appalling. I hope she does feel ashamed of herself. I'm sorry she's made you go through this.
Heather M. Gardner
I'm so sorry. We are thinking of you and your husband. We thank you both for your service to this country.
Lilah and Chase,
As a wife to someone in the military, your story touched close to home. I was sickened when I learned that your personal story had been stolen and used in such a way. I am so grateful for your service and sacrifices you have made for our country. I am so grateful that Tiffanie has been found out and that she will be held accountable for all the horrible things she has done.
I'm sorry about your husband; my son-in-law, also, has PTSD from his six tours in the MIddle East as a Navy Seal, so I realize how much one can suffer with it. Like you, I hope Tiffany Ruston feels shame and takes it upon herself to apologize to the wronged (as well as their readers).
She has robbed not only the rightful author, but destroyed another slice of the trust humans need between each other.
Candace C. Bowen - Author
Paul De Lancey asked me to post the following. He had trouble .
Paul De Lancey – Tiffanie Rushton is a rat. Your husband is a hero. I am grateful for his service to our country. I am an author and feel for anyone who gets plagiarized. Best wishes to you and your husband. You are not alone.
Virginia Carmichael Munoz
Oh my word! This brought me to tears! Please know that so many people live, support and respect your husband. I'm praying your whole family will emerge from this with something that you can use, even if it's only a time that brought you closer. This woman makes me ill!
I want to cry after reading this.
Tiffanie Rushton is repugnant. I feel ill after reading this.
Candace C. Bowen - Author
I am an author so know how Rachel must feel. I cannot, however, even imagine how your husband feels. Tiffanie Ruston represents the worst of humanity. Please know that the majority stand on the side of your husband. I was deeply moved by his story. He is not only an American hero, he is an excellent writer. God Bless you both.
I would like to think that Tiffany Rushton has enough of a conscience left for her to feel sorry for what she's done, but I have to wonder if that is the case. It's unconscionable for her to have done the plagiarism to begin with, but then to threaten and bully? My prayers go out to you and your family, Mrs. Weston. I'm glad your husband has you to lean on.
Wow. That takes alot of guts to do something like that especially as a leader of the community to help teach our children. What a sad and pathetic person. What comes around goes around. She will get what she deserves.
The stealing, lying and bullying are bad enough, but it makes me ill that she stole from a vet suffering from PTSD. Despicable.