The cat-loving grandfather who spent his free time as an internet troll running disgusting online message boards where users post sexual photographs of unsuspecting teenage girls has been fired from his job.
Michael Brutsch, who uses the Reddit name ‘Violentacrez’, was the main moderator for the social network’s ‘Creepshot’ forum which sparked outrage last month for encouraging the images.
Now, after years posting offensive messages across the internet and earning the moniker of the ‘biggest troll on the web’, Brutsch has been found working as a computer programmer for a financial services company in Arlington, Texas by Gawker.
The Gawker story, written by Adrian Chen, was published on Friday and Brutsch immediately felt the wrath of the internet. He was notified by his boss and told not to come back into work on Monday. He has since been officially fired.
‘Everything that happens is a test from God, and how you respond to that test determines whether you pass or fail,’ he wrote in a new Reddit forum dedicated to his dismissal.
He now uses a new far-less-anonymous handle, mbrutsch.
‘My real problem is with the lies, innuendos, distortions and half-truths in Chen’s article. As for deserving it, (Violentacrez) did go out of his way to make people mad, even if it was only on the internet. I really have no one to blame but myself,’ Brutsch wrote in the post.
The 49-year-old lives with his wife, who suffers from diabetes and is also an avid Reddit user, a son, two dogs and seven cats. Brutsch, who has a granddaughter, also has a son in the Marines.
‘My wife is disabled,’ he pleaded with the reporter. ‘I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment.
‘I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.’
But, even though he has become a massive internet troll after setting up a number of sickening Reddit forums, including ‘Rapebait’, ‘incest’ and ‘misogyny’, he refused to apologize.
‘I would stand by exactly what I’ve done,’ he added.
As Gawker reveals, Violentacrez has long been one of the driving forces of Reddit, a website where users submit content and vote for or against it to determine its position on the front page.
On the website, he was also behind the sickening trend ‘Jailbait’, where users submitted sexualized images of scantily-clad underage girls. The users deleted photos of girls older than 16.
It generated millions of page views each month but, unsurprisingly, also sparked outrage and was eventually pulled after Anderson Cooper lambasted Reddit for hosting it.
Brutsch has long argued that he is not a pedophile and would remove any child porn that was posted, and was merely maintaining free speech on the website.
He told Gawker that, while at home with his wife, the two would lie in bed together with their laptops, both on Reddit, him posting porn as she posted cute animal videos.
Reddit has not only condoned his vile posts but encouraged and facilitated them, aware that their controversial spin will drive more traffic to the website, which launched in 2006.
He was close with the employees, he told Gawker, and was even given a ‘pimp hat’ as a thank you for his contributions to the site, which now receives more than three billion hits a month.
Before Jailbait was to be closed, the general manager, Erik Martin, contacted him directly to warn him, Brutsch claimed.
‘Want to give you a heads up,’ Martin wrote. ‘We’re making a policy change regarding jailbait type content. Don’t really have a choice.’
This blasé – and often encouraging – attitude towards trolling and offensive, invasive images raise questions over Reddit’s social and moral responsibilities.
They even used Brutsch as a volunteer moderator, trusting this man with extremely questionable tastes over what would be appropriate to appear across the website.
The revelation of his identity comes weeks after campaigners fought to close his ‘Creepshots’ forum.
It features images of ordinary women on the street, in the gym or even at school who are caught unawares by stealthy ‘creeps’ with cameras.
Most shots focus on the buttocks or breasts of non-consenting women going about their daily lives – and users admit that ‘at least 40 percent’ of the images are of underage girls.
In one alarming thread, a prolific poster appears to be a teacher, posting images of his unsuspecting female students.
The user, ‘Weagleweaglewde’, while posting numerous ‘upskirt’ images of girls in a classroom setting, claims in at least two posts that he is a teacher at a high school.
The response to the ‘creep shots’ forum – known as a subreddit – has been outrage and a campaign to remove the site has sprung up from other corners of Reddit.
One furious user wrote: ‘What’s particularly disturbing about the voyeur subreddits is that individuals are having their perverse, invasive, and illegal behavior validated and encouraged by many others.
‘Students should be able to attend class without having their privacy violated by fellow students and trusted authority figures like teachers.
‘Girls should be able to go to school without worrying that sexually suggestive images of them are being uploaded to popular websites like Reddit for thousands to view and ogle.’
One user went as far as to offer tips for getting ‘creep shots’.
‘Don’t be nervous,’ the advice reads. ‘If you are, you’ll stand out. Don’t hover too much, get your shot and move on if you can. You’ll look less like a creep if you have photos of things other than just hot chicks’ a**es.’
In his latest posting, Brutsch describes his life in the days following the publication of the lengthy Gawker piece, and says that he gave his then-boss a warning that the article was in the works.
‘Well, I had already told my boss about the impending article last week,’ Brutsch wrote on Reddit.
‘He thought I was exaggerating the potential fallout. So when he called Saturday morning, I just said, “Told you so”. He said not to come in Monday, and that he’d call when he knew more. All my remote access has been disabled, my health insurance and FSA were canceled immediately (so they had to drag someone in over the weekend to do that).’
In multiple responses, Brutsch says that he has received death threats and repeatedly dismisses fellow Reddit commentator’s pleas to contact police, simply saying that they ‘don’t care’.
‘At this point, if any of the dozens of death threats I’ve gotten were to make good on their promises, at least my wife would have the insurance.’
DISCUSSING THE DISGUSTING: BRUTSCH SPEAKS OUT
In the wake of the publication of the Gawker article, Michael Brutsch took to Reddit to address specific ‘lies, innuendos, distortions and half-truths’ in the piece. Here is a selection of his defenses; all of his responses in their entirety may be viewed here.
His specialty is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls.
I created literally hundreds of reddits. Jailbait was simply the most popular, and most talked about. It was hardly my “specialty”.
At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called “Creepshots.”
Creepshots was not “my project”. After it was targeted by SRS, I was asked to join as a moderator for one reason: to make sure that the things posted there remained both legal, and within reddit’s rules, and to respond quickly to requests for removal. I didn’t create it, and I didn’t post there.
“Jailbait,” that Violentacrez had created on Reddit dedicated to sexualized images of underage girls.
Jailbait was for pictures of attractive teens. We actually removed overtly “sexualizing” comments when we were made aware of them. SRS has had great results using the term “sexualizing” to attack my reddits. I’ve actually gotten emails from people wondering why people masturbated over “pics of dead kids”. What kind of sick mind thinks anyone finds that sort of image “sexual”?
Violentacrez decided to create a safe space for people sexually attracted to underage girls to share their photo stashes. I would call these people pedophiles; the Jailbait subreddit called them “ephebophiles.”
Again with the “sexually attracted” bit. I created /r/ButtSharpies; does he think I’m sexually attracted to Sharpies sticking out of butts?
Jailbait was the online equivalent of systematized street harassment.
Except, of course, that no one knew the names, address, phone number of anyone, and, in accordance with reddit policy, any comments or posts revealing such information were removed as soon as we were made aware of them.
Users posted snapshots of tween and teenage girls, often in bikinis and skirts.
Tweens were against the rules. People might have posted them, but we removed them as we became aware of them.
Many of these were lifted from their Facebook accounts. Not by me. 100% of my posts came from 4chan.
Eventually, Jailbait landed on CNN, where Anderson Cooper called out Reddit for hosting it, and Violentacrez for creating it.
Let’s not mention the fact that Cooper’s segment had a lawyer look at /r/jailbait, and he admitted on air that there was nothing illegal there.