A martial arts expert applies cyber forensics to identifying sexual predators who run or work at martial arts schools. He worries about the implications of publishing his findings.
William Murphy, a college professor and a black belt in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community, frowned as he considered a project that he had been working on. Working in conjunction with Georgette Oden, a lawyer and the head of investigations at Bullshido.net, he had proposed a systematic investigation that would seek to identify sex offenders within the martial arts instruction community. Now he needed to figure out just how far he was willing to go in that investigation.
The context of the project involved many different elements. First, there was the broad mixed martial arts community, which consisted of many different sub-communities that focused on different fighting styles. Each of these communities had their own network of schools that taught the style’s techniques. Also involved was the Bullshido.net community, a controversial website whose original purpose was to investigate fraud, abuse, and “BS” within the martial arts community. While this group could be mobilized to crowdsource investigations, its membership tended to be highly opinionated and more than occasionally crude. Any results provided by such a group would therefore require considerable scrutiny. Finally, there was the potential application of cyber forensics. This would involve the systematic acquisition of data from different online sources and the matching of these sources to identify—for example—individuals who were both martial arts instructors and registered on sex-offender databases.
Murphy recognized that the project was fraught with challenges. As was often the case when working with different databases, data sources were often incomplete and also needed considerable cleaning before they would be useful. Matching records was also a potential challenge. Names were often written in different ways and common names could easily lead to erroneous matches. Crowdsourcing the potential verification of matches depended heavily on the degree to which participants in the process were willing to be objective and did not have any potential hidden agendas. This type of investigation also had major potential legal implications, as well as privacy concerns.
Weighed against these drawbacks were the potential victims that might be spared if instructors with a history of sex offenses could be identified and removed from schools where they had access to unwitting—and often under-aged victims. The project had been initiated by Oden as a result of identifying one such individual. How many more might there be?
Authors:William F. Murphy
Cite as:Murphy, W.F. (2018). Exposing sexual predators who run martial arts schools. Muma Case Review 3(3). 1-18. https://doi.org/10.28945/4073