Defending The Indefensible: On Phil Gigante & Karen Marie Moning

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Content warning: This post discusses rape and the sexual accosting of a minor. Nothing in great detail but if these topics are triggering or troubling to you, please approach with caution.

Feverborn is the latest novel in the New York Times bestselling series by romance author Karen Marie Moning. The books have an extensive and dedicated fanbase and remains one of the few urban fantasy series that’s retained its popularity over the course of several years. After a change in audiobook narrators, Moning announced that the original and preferred pairing of Natalie Ross and Phil Gigante would be returning for the latest book.

In July of last year, two men in Michigan were arrested for exchanging indecent images of themselves with a teenage girl. In October, one of the men pleaded guilty to the charges of accosting a child for immoral purposes and possession of sexually abusive images of a child. That man was Phil Gigante.

Understandably, many fans were disgusted by the news as well as the knowledge that Gigante would be returning to the world they supported and adored. Many expressed their displeasure and posted appropriate links to the story, something Moning took exception to. Several of these comments seem to have been deleted or hidden from view, but the main thread still exists, with Moning’s response in full.

Taken from Moning's Facebook.
Taken from Moning’s Facebook.

Moning repeatedly defends Gigante – who, may I remind you all, pleaded guilty and served time for it – with claims that she ‘know[s] the facts’ and that he was not charged with accosting a minor, a point which can easily be refuted by looking at every news story related to the case. She downplays the charges, demands trust from her fans and implicitly dismisses fans who find the news distressful to being ‘go[ing] ballistic’. Anyone familiar with the basics of victim blaming will not find any of this new, nor will they be especially shocked by the numerous comments defending both Moning and Gigante, with justifications ranging from ‘none of that has jack shit to do with his talent’, to ‘this seems like the adolescent was baiting men’, to just ignoring the problem at hand and squeezing over the return of a voice they like.

Let me be clear about this – we know Gigante pleaded guilty and was charged with two offenses, for which he received punishment (the length of which was far too short in my opinion). That’s not up for debate. We have proof of all of this. Moning is flat out lying in her claims that Gigante was not charged for the offence that he pleaded guilty to. Phil Gigante pleaded guilty and was charged.

I understand Death of the Author. I’m fully aware of the problems, difficulties and patterns in separating great art from the terrible people who make it. Your Fave Is Problematic – we all know the score. Everyone’s limits on this subject vary – I can’t in all good faith pay money to watch a Polanski film but I still bought Blackstar knowing about David Bowie’s past. It’s a tough judgement call to make and I empathise with the struggles some have in doing so. Acknowledging such things can be tough, especially when you’re surrounded by countless examples of society explicitly rewarding bad people.

But what’s going on here isn’t just the continued rewarding and support of a man who preyed upon a teenage girl: It’s the misogynistic and dangerous downplaying of the severity of his crimes that leads to real problems beyond a nice voice to listed to on your iPod.

To this day, I hear people who think Roman Polanski was led on by the 13 year old girl he drugged and raped. I’ve seen every possible defence of Bill Cosby that relies on the notion that women get together to plot dozens of false rape allegations to bring down a celebrity. I frequent a film discussion forum full of men for whom it was easier to accept that Mia Farrow is the modern Medea who planted rape ideas into her daughter’s head to bring down Woody Allen than to admit that maybe Woody Allen did rape his daughter. Various statistics on rape convictions tell us what we should all know – women are seldom believed. Some seem to prefer fantasies of Jezebel-like young women who organize devious plots to seduce reluctant older men into sexual submission and then hit them with a false rape claim. Those in power use this to their advantage, insisting that they alone know the real story and that we should implicitly believe them over such frivolous things as evidence or a public charge. They whine that we’re ruining their fun by pointing out that their fantasy is less than perfect, and that we should just let it go because it doesn’t affect their fun.

But it does affect our fun. Gigante is one of the most prominent voices in romance audiobooks. He’s been interviewed several times on the subject and praised for his ‘magical voice’. We hold up people as idols and favourites and instill on them the privileges that come with such honours. A nice voice that inspires a particular dream for some is enough to dismiss his abhorrent actions. It’s enough to throw a young woman under the bus in her time of fragility and paint her as a whore. It’s enough to put another chink in the armour we have to wear to protect ourselves from rape culture: Armour that most of the time is barely hanging on by a thread.

Moning is free to support who she wants, but she shouldn’t be surprised by any pushback she and her publisher receive from this, and they undoubtedly will. Many will stand up for her and Gigante, as they are currently doing on her Facebook page, and I’m sure they’ll fire accusations of censorship, bullying and the usual nonsense that follows activism and organized protest. She may not want to talk about this subject, but we most certainly do, because silence is not and never will be an option.

EDIT: Moning has since deleted the post and issued an apology.

Karen Marie Moning FB Apology

26 COMMENTS

  1. I can look past an artist’s personal wrongdoings and still enjoy their work. However in some cases I decide I want no part of an artist’s work because of their actions. I haven’t touched a Marion Zimmer Bradley book since I heard her daughter’s allegations, and I thanked my mom for throwing out my copy of The Mists of Avalon, because I knew I would never touch it again. I’d been wondering about the Fever series (despite all the negative comments I’d seen on Goodreads), but I don’t think I’ll bother now.

  2. am a little shocked by all this–first i’ve heard of it & don’t know what to think, except that we shouldn’t pass judgement without all the facts, & even then we really don’t have the right…have loved Ms. Moning’s books since her very first one was published, although have fallen off reading them in the last few years–don’t get into the Dani stories as much as i did the ones about the brothers & Adam…but just want to say that we don’t know the details do we, and i for one have never been one to jump on a bandwagon…

  3. Until I saw the author’s post defending the actions of Phil Giante I didn’t feel strongly about the issue. It creeps me out that she would defend a grown man sending inappropriate FB messages to a 13 year old girl. I can’t help but think about Iced and how she defended her choice to make a 14 year old girl the object of the desires of several grown men.

    I feel sad that a woman with her kind of influence basically slut shamed a child. I don’t know if Ms Moning has children. I’m a mother and I guarantee I’d never allow a grown man to get away with sending inappropriate photos to my child.

    I love her books and enjoyed the audio versions but unless she supports the victim I can’t spend my money on her work.

  4. I returned Feverborn for a refund to Amazon yesterday. I have been with this series since the very first book. I don’t hold KMM responsible for Phil’s actions. If she had just not said a darn thing, we wouldn’t be here. I DO hold KMM responsible for a post in support of Phil (which is STILL up), stating that she will hire him in the future for the next book, deleting our comments expressing frustration with her misrepresentation of the facts, and insinuating in her comments that he was somehow railroaded, further cultivating an environment by her fans of victim shaming. I am so so so disgusted by her actions and I can never un-see what she has done. Supporting this sex offender (he is listed on the Michigan Sex Offender list) is condoning his behavior, and I can never be okay with that. And I will not be silent about it, either.

  5. For what it’s worth, here is KMM’s latest Facebook post regarding this:

    “Two days ago, a post went up regarding the former narrator of my audio books. I did not have all of my facts straight and I apologize profusely for my post. I will not be working with him in the future.”

  6. Karen Moning posted this update today on facebook: :Two days ago, a post went up regarding the former narrator of my audio books. I did not have all of my facts straight and I apologize profusely for my post. I will not be working with him in the future.”

    So it appears she was wrong, admits it, and has cut ties to Phil.

  7. I am a survivor of a predator and have very strong feelings about victim shaming. However, I have to say No where does Karen (or Phil for that matter) blame the victim she says there is more than what is out there. This is often the case. Many others have also spoken up for Phil calling out that he did not send in-decent pictures of himself to anyone.

    Unfortunately in this day and age pleading guilty is no longer a proof of guilt, 98% of cases are pushed and scared into by the lawyers and public defenders to take a plea bargain (I know this as my nephew was put in this situation, he’ll John Oliver did an entire episode on it) to prevent long trials, and to try to prevent possible damage a long trial brings. I believe that was the choice that Phil made and why Karen understands. The young lady involved even came forward and said Phil was not involved she sent the photos to the other gentleman who was using Phils computer. I am sure there are many that this won’t matter to but I just had to share my findings.

    • I too am a survivor of abuse and I was never insulted or offended by what KMM said. This article is so sensationalistic that I feel like I’m reading the Enquirer.

      I always thought that there was more to the case than what we saw online. He’s serving 4 months instead of 20 years. Thank you for putting more information out there. People need to hear this. Hopefully more people pick up on this and share it.

    • Debbie, can you share a link with proof that the girl came forward and absolved Phil, and that someone else was using his computer?

    • Phil had a great lawyer. Here is text from the lawyer’s website with a link for you to see more.

      Mr. Hackett enjoys defending clients in a variety of criminal cases, and he especially excels in Criminal Sexual Conduct cases. He finds the successful defense of his clients to be very rewarding and wants all of his clients to have to best defense available to them. Mr. Hackett understands how vulnerable you may feel when faced with criminal charges. He will fight to keep you out of jail and reduce your criminal charges.

      Read more: http://www.grabellaw.com/robert-hackett.html

  8. Seems to me you only post comments from readers who support your opinions. Karen does not deserve to be grouped with the terrible things Phil Gigante did. She defended a friend and the when she found out what he did she retracted. She is not his keeper. She is a writer and he narrated her books. Did a damn good job of it too. I for one will never be able to listen to them the same again, and probably won’t, but I refuse to persecute her for his wrong doings. this is cyber bullying and it’s finest. Seriously, you returned the book, wow, good for you. I am almost done with mine and can’t wait for the next one. Hope the next time you make a mistake and admit it your friends don’t drop you like yesterday’s news. Must be wonderful to be so perfect.

    • I am sorry to tell you this but we have posted many comments that have not been in support of us. When I woke up this morning to approve more comments yours was first in the queue, and as you can see your comment and others in support of KMM/criticizing us have been approved for all to see.

      I must point out that Bibliodaze is a private blog and we do have the right to not approve or delete comments if we so choose – just as you would on your own personal site. However the only ones we do not approve are the ones that are spam or just insults/threats to any of our writers/commenters.

       
      “Karen does not deserve to be grouped with the terrible things Phil Gigante did. She defended a friend and the when she found out what he did she retracted.”

      Nobody is grouping KMM with those who have pled guilty to sexual crimes against children. People are grouping her with those that defend them with lines like “you don’t know the full story”, which she did. It is great that she has retracted but it would have been better if she had listened in the first place to those pointing out the problems with her defence. Some will be able to forgive her and accept this; others will not. That is up to them.

      And some that are cynical will simply argue that the retraction only came about because she realised she was hemorrhaging her fanbase.

       
      “Seriously, you returned the book, wow, good for you.”

      As Ceilidhann has not actually purchased the book – and therefore cannot return it – I can only assume that this is meant to be directed at those commenters who did return the book because of KMM’s words and behavior.

       
      “I refuse to persecute her for his wrong doings”

      You and I are in agreement here, along with everyone else. KMM is not being persecuted because he “pleaded guilty to the charges of accosting a child for immoral purposes and possession of sexually abusive images of a child” (when he was originally charged with more). People are expressing their discomfort with KMM and criticizing her defence of Gigante and the way she behaved towards fans who were unhappy with the return and support of Gigante.

       
      “this is cyber bullying and it’s finest”

      Are you accusing just us of cyberbullying, or are you visiting the other book blogs and authors reporting on this news and telling them the same thing?

      Being critical of someone who was defending someone like Gigante with the same words we hear so many people use to defend other sexual predators is not cyber bullying/harassment. Cyber bullying/harassment, if you would like one example, is what happens to a person when they put the word “feminist” in their twitter bio.

       
      “I am almost done with mine and can’t wait for the next one.”

      I am glad you are enjoying it and hope the same goes for the next one. But personally I will be like many others and not financially support KMM through buying her books.

      We all make choices about who we do and do not read, and behaviour like this puts her in the ‘no thank you’ pile. Just like, say, stalking and harassing book reviewers does.

       
      “Hope the next time you make a mistake and admit it your friends don’t drop you like yesterday’s news.”

      I hope I never do find myself in the position of defending a man like Gigante and deleting comments of my readers unhappy with that defence. If I somehow end up doing so, I deserve to be called out.

       
      “Must be wonderful to be so perfect.”

      It must be a heavy burden. I don’t know how she does it.

      • I’m sorry, but has anyone out there ever had a friend do something awful, and because they were our friend, we automatically jumped to their defense? I have, and then I found out my friend was not the person I thought they were. I ended up eating my words, but thank God, that I was not lumped into the “bad guy” column like people are doing to KMM.

      • I used teo e a Karen “Moniac” and blogged about the Fever series. One of the things that Karen was partial too, which, IMO helped to undermine her artistic talent and revealed an insecurity of hers was… the fact she read, practically stalked her own fan pages and felt a compulsion to respond and interact with her fans in ways that affected her work negatively.

        By this I mean, we would conjecture about what certain subplots meant and how things would turn out. Karen would then come on to correct our suppositions, insist things were not as we imagined them and they most certainly did not mean and would not turn out as we had written.

        Then she would proceed to argue with us, tell us we had no clues than as we pointed out why, our posts began to get deleted.. then the posts of others wondering about the censorship got deleted.

        If you read “Iced” and remember the debates about Dani’s age and grown men plotting on future lusts (they actually do this a LOT in real life) then you may remember Karen defending her story arc then telling us to just “trust her” then beginning to change her story plot.

        In the end, she made that literary train wreck that was Burned… caving in to some of her fans for more Mac and Barrons, aging Jada, humanizing Ryodan, putting waaaay too much emphasis on sex. In other words, she caved.

        But she caved in such a way that it was obvious this was no longer her story but was instead her towing the line of a story arc coopted by some of her fans.

        The fact is, grown men DO look over young girls and plot on what they will be like in the future. President -elect Trump looked over a young girl and was caught on video stating “can you believe that I will be dating her in about 10 years?” He was asked about his daughter Tiffany in an interview and stated she was beautiful like her mother but he did not know yet, if she would have nice boobs like her mom”

        Disgusting? yes. and we voted him into the highest office in the land. W are sending mixed messages even to ourselves. We claim to want to protect children and yet often sexual predators get some of the lightest sentencing of all.

        I was not aware of the Phil Gigante story but having now heard it, I’m not surprised. No one should be surprised.

        Life imitates art, imitates life, imitates art.

        Men do this. When I turned 18, many grown men felt a need to tell me how they had always been attracted to me as a child. Disgusting? Much of real life is and to pretend otherwise might make us seem virtuous but it does not change reality.

        Now Phil seems to have gone beyond the fantasy to actively pursuing children. That’s disgusting, immoral, but since he got only 4 months what does that say about Karen?

        KMM defended Gigante like millions defended Trump. It’s America unplugged with the mask off.

        The same mindset that compelled Karen to defend her words her choices when it came to a narrator and loyalty are (IMO) the SAME characteristics YOU just displayed in rebutting every negativity stated by a poster or posters. It is sort of neurotic… this NEED to not only be right but to DEFEND to an unsettling level.. to get the last word.. to underscore a point.

        Your words spoke for themselves–by allowing other view points, you already demonstrated you did not censor a post. By giving line by line rebuttals, you are demonstrating a similar level of thinskinned resistance to criticism as KMM though you may feel it is “different” because you would never defend a sexual predator.

        In reality, your actions and KMM’s are very similar:

        Each of you feel strongly on your subject and look to your readers to dialog with. Both you and KMM CARE TOO MUCH about the reactions to your musings and writings and descend into pedantry to clarify/underline your point and to be “right”.

        Both of you have used your platform to go beyond merely giving voice to your opinions or literary work and are seeking some sort of validation from others and it shows.

        Karen goes overboard DEFENDING her work, opinions and choices. YOU did the same in your rebuttal to a person criticizing your article. You may think the subject is what makes a difference but it is not.

        The compulsion to defend and justify often is blind to the subject matter.. and the compulsion to respond to any dissent no matter how banal or insignificant is what puts this all in the realm of neurosis.

        I detested Burn because it was a hot mess. I stopped reading then. As for the Gigante matter… She defended a sexual predator and retracted that defense. People do make mistakes. Should people buy her work? That’s personal. I have not touched her books since she “burned” her fans.

        I’m guessing you will not see the similarities between Karen’s quick jumping to justify or defend her position vs your need to do the same.

        We are all human, we make mistakes, but those of us who aspire, learn and grow which means we aren’t rigid in our views or judgments and we allow room and flexibility for lessons learned.
        You have no idea who you may have defended and who may actually be a sexual predator.

  9. I will admit I jumped to conclusions and you did post my comments. much as you have a right to your opinion I have a right to mine. This is your blog so I commend you on answering my comments.

    Yes I was referring to the other comments that they returned their books.

    If you feel that I was stalking and harassing you, I apologize. I was interested in what people had to say and all I was seeing was comments that supported you. I have been reading KMM for many years and I don’t believe she deserves to be attacked. Phil is the guilty one. I am not defending or sticking up for him, and waited until I had all the facts before I commented. He deserves to be in prison. I feel as strongly about defending her as you do about persecuting her. But this is a free country, we all have a right to dislike or judge. She apologized and it should’ve been dropped, so I was defending her.

    This will be the last time I ever look at your blog, as I recognize that we have absolutely nothing in common. You missed my point, but that’s ok. Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the clouds and the ability to have a open heart and mind is lost to some. But I will also not go in my social networking sites and tell everyone to boycott your blog. Rock on sister, and keep voicing your opinion. I have some reading to do.

  10. I have always been an admirer of Phil Gigante and he has done a great job in narrating romance books. But When I learned the latest news on him, I was shocked. My issue with KMM and her “updated” statement is that it seems more something her publisher was pushing her to say…the timing is too coincidental and doesn’t seem sincere. But maybe I am wrong about that. I do have a issue with victim shaming. This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves, and it drives me crazy. I admire the strength this 14 year girl had to stand up in front of the courts. I can’t imagine it could have been easy. But she did the right thing. She had the courage to do what many are unable to do. I have noticed that there is more sympathy towards Phil than the actual victim. Which is quite shameful and I definitely don’t approve of KMM downplaying what he did. He committed a crime and he needs to pay for it and quite frankly he got off easy. Most of the time when it happens to an underage person, the one that committed the crime could spend up to 10 years in jail!! I don’t plan on reading her books in the future (not that I was really impressed with her latest series anyway). Great post and thanks for being honest about your opinion on this matter.

  11. Can you please let me know why my post from yesterday has not been posted? I saw someone comment above about their posts being censored and you mentioned it had been in the que. It’s been a day and yet my post isn’t showing. Is there a reason for this?

    • No, we received your very long and accusatory comment. We’ve no desire to clog up our page with victim blaming, claims made with no evidence, pseudo-legal hoop jumping and everything else you said in an attempt to defend Gigante. We want to harbour a safe space where people, particularly young women, can come and talk without feeling scorned, judged or dismissed as liars. You made a baseless claim regarding a 14 year old girl without providing anything to back it up and we’re not in favour of people using our site to spread those kinds of accusations, particularly when they exacerbate an already toxic conversation of rape culture. Discussing victim blaming is not a silencing tactic, as you so claimed.

  12. Looking at these dates, it’s interesting to see they are exactly identical to the dates in which some negative reviews for KMM news book “Feverborn” was deleted over at Goodreads. No answers as to why they were exactly deleted, Goodreads gives no explanation for it, but a couple of members there had their reviews AND the comments deleted from the site. Those reviews were deleted around 01-21 & 01-22. It might not be anything but it seemed enough to mention it.

  13. I stopped reading KMM in early 2015. Because she stopped writing great urban fantasy and started writing what her fans wanted her to write. She no longer told her story, her way; and I didn’t like her story told their way..

    This stuff about Gigante is unfortunate and sickening, and Karen is a victim of her own compulsive need to stalk her fan page and address everything said there

    .The literary world is rife with sexual predators, egotistical meglomaniacs, people with OCD, or NPD, and even some schizophrenics and clinically depressed people.

    It is because art, whether entertaining us in film or painting worlds with acts, humor,, oils or words— is cathatric. This catharsis is for the artist and the public.

    We have a lot of tortured and often abused souls that give diversions or voice to our own thoughts and lives.

    That said, we should wonder the effect vigilante fanship or activists fan base will have on the arts and their work.

    I have seen some of the effects of a readership who wanted to shape or censure an artist or story. and it resulted in the devolutiion of their literary work and ultimately the dissatisfaction of fans.

    This is NOT to silence platforms like this one, because this type of writing and voice is also much needed.

    Still.. what is the emotional fulcrum that both sides can be balanced on?

    On the one hand, opposing dialogue can hold artists accountable for what they say, think, or do and promote punishing that artist for it..but in the end such manipulations might leave us with less the work of an artists and more the reflections and wishes of a vociferous and agenda driven public.

    Artists have always known that to write commercially would enslave them to both money and publishers… but now it also often means they are fettered and enslaved by fans and social media.

    Wrong associations? BOYCOTT
    Disapprove of their personal lives? BOYCOTT
    Angry about a story arc? BOYCOTT
    Got a problem with something they said or wrote? BOYCOTT
    Dislike what they think or believe? BOYCOTT

    The “art” is no longer the consideration, the art’s source, is.

    In the end, what are we left with? Truth be told, if we were prvivy to the comments, lives, beliefs, associations or personal mindsets of most artists, there would be little we could read, listen to, or view with equanimity except maybe the dictionary , crickets, and some wallpaper.

    I’m curious about the considered effects of social criticisms on the arts of our time and wonder if this author might address this

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