The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday October 24th

N.C. State employee accused of being a Proud Boy also facing outside privacy lawsuit

<p>Wolfpack Plaza at NC State University. An NC State employee has been linked to the Proud Boys and had allegations of doxxing levied against him. Photo courtesy of Sara Trudan via The Technician.</p>
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Wolfpack Plaza at NC State University. An NC State employee has been linked to the Proud Boys and had allegations of doxxing levied against him. Photo courtesy of Sara Trudan via The Technician.

For nearly two months, North Carolina State University investigated allegations that an employee had doxxed students and activists online and was a member of the Proud Boys, a right-wing nationalist group.

The employee, Chadwick Seagraves, is a desktop support team manager. N.C. State became aware of the allegations around Nov. 18 and immediately began a review of the allegations, Fred Hartman, assistant vice chancellor of University Communications, said in an email.

Seagraves referred The Daily Tar Heel to his statements made to the News and Observer in November. 

Seagraves said in a statement that he was not a member of the Proud Boys and called allegations that he was a racist and fascist “heinous slander.”

A Jan. 11 statement from University Communications announced that the investigation had been completed and “did not substantiate any significant allegations.” According to the statement, the review did not find a just cause for N.C. State to institute formal disciplinary action against Seagraves in accordance with state personnel law.

Chancellor Randy Woodson updated N.C. State's Faculty Senate on the investigation in a meeting on Jan. 26. While community members expressed concern that the individual had access to students' personal information, Woodson said he only had access to the information of the people he supervised.

"In terms of the internal investigation, it was made clear that while some of the online behavior attributed to this individual, some of which he denies but regardless, it's done on his own time," Woodson said.

During the meeting, Woodson said a Twitter account claiming to be a student at N.C. State had accused the individual of online harassment. The university reached out to the account, asking them to cooperate with the investigation.

"They've not come forward and cooperated with the university on this investigation so we weren't able to substantiate that allegation," Woodson said.

The owner of the Twitter account, who confirmed to The Daily Tar Heel that they are an N.C. State student and requested to remain anonymous, said they did not want to give their name to the university.

"As soon as my actual name becomes public, I'm at more risk than ever," they said.

Despite the conclusion of the university’s investigation, activists and N.C. State students are continuing their calls for Seagraves’ firing or resignation.

Accusations surface

Classes were coming to an end last fall when Melanie Flowers, student body president at N.C. State, saw allegations that Seagraves was a member of the Proud Boys surfacing on social media.

Since then, Flowers and her peers had been waiting for the results of the university's investigation. 

“It was all really frustrating and disappointing, especially just because I know students have had this hanging over their heads for months,” Flowers said.

Flowers and her Student Government colleagues held a five-hour SG Freeze Out Protest on Jan. 19, allowing a space for community members to reflect on the results of the university’s investigation and call for Seagraves’ resignation. An Action Network petition demanding the university to fire Seagraves currently has over 2,700 signatures online.

“His continued employment at NC State threatens the safety of minority students, students of color and student activists,” the petition states. “Additionally, a refusal to fire Seagraves would send a message to students and faculty that white supremacy is tolerated at NC State.”

According to the University Communications statement, the investigation reviewed data on Seagraves’ work computers and online activity while working. N.C. State has not provided information on the review beyond the statement and a letter from Woodson due to state personnel laws.

Allegations of doxxing 

On Nov. 17, a group called the Anonymous Comrades Collective published an investigation into online activity that the group alleged was carried out by Seagraves. According to its website, the collective is dedicated to “exposing Nazis, racists and fascists."

The collective’s investigation alleged that Seagraves owned the Twitter account @roostersghost, under the name "Elias McMahone; A Heathen."

Seagraves did not respond to the DTH's request for comment about this Twitter account. 

The anonymous N.C. State student said they began interacting with McMahone on Twitter, as both accounts were posting about a rally at N.C. State hosted by right-wing organization Turning Point USA in 2019.

One direct message from the McMahone Twitter account, sent to the anonymous student, includes a line that reads: “I used to run the NC Proud Boys.”  

A year later, the student had seen allegations surfacing online about the same Twitter account they’d interacted with, alleging the account was owned by Seagraves. The student said they worked with other activists to investigate Seagraves' alleged online activity.

“It’s a slap in the face, really, and I’m pretty upset about it,” the student said of the university’s review of Seagraves.

Photos of Twitter direct messages sent to the DTH by the anonymous student show messages from the McMahone Twitter account.

“The Left took a huge radical turn that didn’t jive with my core values as a Constitutionalist,” one message reads.

In his statement to the News & Observer, Seagraves said: “I categorically denounce white supremacism and, as a Constitutionalist and Free Speech Absolutist, I abhor the concept of fascism and authoritarianism of any sort.”

The same Twitter direct message sent by McMahone, according to the anonymous student, reads: “I helped get Obama elected. Worked hard for him.”

“In 2008 I worked at an inner city polling location in Indianapolis as a precinct “judge” and was part of the ground campaign for then candidate Obama,” Seagraves said in the N&O statement.

All of the allegations brought to the University's attention against Seagraves were investigated thoroughly, Hartman said in an email.

Pending legal action

Seagraves has a pending lawsuit against him outside of North Carolina. It was filed in Oregon in November, as N.C. State community members began demanding accountability from the University. 

On Nov. 19, Portland activist Olivia Katbi Smith filed the lawsuit for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on allegations that Seagraves had intentionally posted personal information of her, her friends and her family online.

“Since this information was posted it has spread like wildfire across the most dangerous far right corners of the internet, where anonymous cowards have been saying unspeakable things and making horrific threats,” Smith, co-chairperson of Portland’s chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, said in a statement to the DTH.

Smith’s attorney, Michael Fuller of Underdog Law Office, said they believe the motives were political. Local process servers have not been able to locate Seagraves, Fuller said.

“He’s trying to evade service from what we can tell,” Fuller said.

Fuller also sent two copies of legal documents to N.C. State addressed to Seagraves, which the university has received but is not accepting, according to emails obtained by the DTH.

The university is not a party named in Smith’s lawsuit. Under state law, the university cannot accept service on behalf of Seagraves, according to Hartman. 

“NC State informed the plaintiff's attorney that the university and its counsel do not represent the defendant in this matter," Hartman wrote in an email to the DTH.

Fuller and Olivia Katbi Smith both said they were not contacted by N.C. State as part of its investigation on Seagraves.

Despite the unrest and uncertainty that N.C. State community members are wrestling with, Flowers said she and her colleagues will continue to provide resources on creating an affirming and inclusive place.

“That’s just really one of our only answers,” Flowers said. “Just to continue to educate people on the right things.”

@praveenavsoma

university@dailytarheel.com

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