Frustratingly UNASKED Questions

How are you?

I’m hanging in there.

What happened in early 2023?

An incident that affected me emotionally and psychologically—and that I’m still processing.

What emotions did the experience bring up for you?

Primarily, grief. I was grieving the loss of a friend.

I felt embarrassed and ashamed for not acknowledging certain red flags sooner.

I felt betrayed, taken advantage of, and mistreated by a former volunteer for my non-profit and then by others in their orbit.

It made me severely depressed.

Could you describe the incident in general terms?

I contacted the former volunteer through a third party to address a serious problem in detail. I wanted to resolve the issue privately and clearly expressed a desire to keep the matter confidential for their sake—and for the sake of the community in which we both operate.

Why was the desire for confidentiality for their sake?

Because it could undermine the public image they had created for themselves in the local community as experienced professionals—an image that misrepresented the depth of their knowledge, their level of experience, and their ability to be trusted.

It would also reveal their unethical actions, which resulted in their termination from their volunteer positions.

This was all privileged information at the time and would have remained so if they had chosen to resolve the matter in good faith.

Despite being given the option of handling the matter privately, they responded publicly on social media and were asked many questions.

Were their answers factual?

No. Despite having full knowledge of the matter, the former volunteer feigned ignorance or responded vaguely, playing the victim. Any “answers” they provided were misleading or incomplete because they withheld information that would contradict the narrative that was developing through all the speculative comments.

Did they correct inaccurate speculation?

No. Again, despite knowing the truth—all the relevant information was literally in their possession—they let people draw their own uninformed and inaccurate conclusions and made no attempt to correct them. As a result, many people who engaged with the post took what they said—and what others speculated—at face value.

Was anything said that rang true?

Yes. One person commented exactly what the matter was actually about—it was still speculative on their part but accurate.

Was there any response to that comment?

None whatsoever. I’m sure it was seen by many, including the former volunteer, but they did not acknowledge it—which, I believe, was a deliberate choice.

Referring to you, specifically, the former volunteer said,

“...the most natural thing to do was push me out of the film community…”

Did you push them out of the community?

No. I don’t have that kind of power. We both live in the community. Of course, within the context of the thread, they were most likely conflating “the film community” with the online forum that I admin—a volunteer position they also held and from which they were fired.

Did you push them out of the forum?

No. When they were fired from their admin role, they were not removed from the forum. In fact, they were given an explicit invitation to remain in the forum and continue to use it to promote their business.

They deliberately chose to leave on the same day they were invited to stay. They confirmed this in a comment later in the thread when they wrote,

“I have already removed myself from the group.”

Our forum only removes people in extreme cases—safety concerns, suspected fraud, confirmed criminal activity, etc.

In response to another commenter asking, “When are they going to sue the Utah Film Commission?” The former volunteer said, in part:

“It may have just been a rumor…If I understood correctly, it was [Puente’s nonprofit] that went after the UFC…If the information is true it would have been absolutely delusional. I really can't verify one way or the other though.”

Was that an actual rumor?

I doubt it. If it was, I was not aware of it. From their use of qualifying phrases like “It may have just been a rumor…” and “If the information is true…” I can only assume that they believed such caveats were all they needed to give them cover to make false statements and then later claim that it was hearsay if anyone called them out on it.

Another commenter referred to the online forum that you admin as a “monopoly.”

A monopoly—by definition—could prevent others from creating a competing product or service.

No admin of any forum on any platform has that kind of power. The fact that several redundant forums also exist is proof that there’s no “monopoly.”

The former volunteer is an admin of a formerly secret forum on the same platform.

That forum is not a monopoly either; it’s just exclusionary of me. It's a No Joes Club.

The forum I admin has more members than others like it because it was the first of its kind to be created; it’s very inclusive—approving new member requests almost daily—and a lot of work has been put in over the years to make it an effective resource for the community it serves. That makes it popular, not a monopoly.

Another commenter tried to start a new forum that was subsequently removed, and they blamed you for its removal.

Did you have it taken down?

Again, I do not have that kind of power.

I did report the forum because its creator chose to give it a name that infringed on a registered trademark—a violation of the platform’s terms of use, which is why they removed it.

It should also be noted that the new forum was only started because its creator was misled by the former volunteer, and they made no effort to confirm whether or not what they were being told was true.

The former volunteer said, in one comment:

“It appears this is their attempt to get money from us threatening to sue us for $300k…”

Were you threatening to sue them for $300,000?

No. The former volunteer had violated existing statutes within the state of Utah, including one that—IF legal action were to be taken—could have resulted in:

“ award of statutory damages in the amount of not less than $1,000 and not more than $100,000 per [violation], as the court considers just.Utah Code Section 70-3a-402

We brought those statutes and the potential penalties to their attention specifically so they would stop what they were doing and not have to face the possibility of having to pay those penalties or pay for legal representation.

Of course, they misrepresented that information as well in their comment.

The former volunteer claimed,

“...they use the 17k members in the group as a value prop when asking for donations. So it is possible that the 17k members in the FB group fund the non-profit.”

Do forum members fund the non-profit?

No. Some members have paid for services provided by the organization, and others have made donations, but there is no cost for membership in the forum, and the nonprofit does not require membership fees or any other dues. Organization membership is free and granted automatically to anyone who identifies as a filmmaker in Utah.

In fact, members are encouraged to share crowdfunding campaigns in the forum for film projects, events, screenings, and other film-related causes, several of which have received contributions from the nonprofit itself.

And where does that money come from?

I donate $100 monthly to the non-profit and contribute to crowdfunding campaigns myself in the organization’s name. I also pay most of the non-profit’s registration fees, licenses, subscriptions, and dues for affiliate memberships in other organizations out of my own pocket, which are recorded as in-kind contributions.

How did this whole experience affect you?

In addition to exacerbating my already elevated anxiety, it created a great deal of tension within my family. I became severely depressed and suicidal, and I was hospitalized for several days.

Did you try to respond to the claims that were made about you to set the record straight?

Yes, about a month after the incident and my hospitalization. I privately contacted some of the individuals who engaged with the social media post and gave them access to all the information the former volunteer had chosen to withhold.

When the former volunteer became aware of this, they deleted their original post and made a new one, claiming that I was spamming people on their social media friends list—ignoring the fact that most of those individuals were friends we had in common.

Is there anything that you wish you had done differently?

I wrote in a memo later that year:

“...[the former volunteer, et al.] would have reacted in a similar manner to any proposal, regardless of when or how it was presented—at any stage of development, in person or remotely, verbally or in writing... The gross incompetence, emotional immaturity, and interpersonal toxicity they displayed completely destroyed any confidence that may have existed for [their business’] future—demonstrating that brand management is the least of their problems...”

That said, I only wish more people had simply talked to me. I was—and still am—more than willing to answer any questions to the best of my ability. Especially about the false claims that were made about me, but no one else has since reached out. The only comfort that I can draw from is the numbers. As I said in the same memo:

“It should be noted that social media ‘engagement’—including comments and ‘reactions’—may have appeared very exciting from [their] point of view as they received hundreds of notifications about the activity level on their posts. However, the number of individuals whose attention was ‘engaged’ enough to prompt multiple interactions consisted of the same core group of people participating in angry comment threads, which, according to one commenter—equally sympathetic and sycophantic—represented  ‘the entire community.’

“In reality, it approximated 1.5% of... the membership of our primary online forum.” 

In retrospect, I think the actual percentage was more likely around 0.5%—at most.

Did the former volunteer ever acknowledge the actual problem that they were contacted about?

Yes, but NOT publicly.

How did they respond?

Through another party communicating on their behalf.

What was their response?

They voluntarily took some of the necessary steps to resolve the issue that was brought to their attention and informed us of those actions after the fact. There was no other direct communication.

“...some of the issues…” but not all of them?

Parts of their response were factually inaccurate but technically addressed parts of the problem. As noted, they also failed spectacularly to keep the matter confidential.

As this is being written, it’s been over a year.

Do you still feel affected by the experience today?


Are you still feeling suicidal?


Is your anxiety level still elevated?

Yes, though not as much—I’m learning to manage it better.

Do you still feel depressed?

I still go through stretches where I feel down for a bit.

Are you angry?

I was, but it’s been said that depression is anger turned inward, and anger is a secondary emotion. No one just gets angry; it emerges from other painful feelings.

Are you still in pain?

Yes, but not as much.

Where is this pain coming from?

I still feel hurt by the betrayal, the harassment, and the lies that were said about me.