Last November, former San Diegan Nick Ratekin filed a report with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in Washington state, saying he was being taped 24/7 at his home — with video and audio being “leaked” to social media.
“These recordings include my bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, family room and home office,” wrote Ratekin, who is suing the University of San Diego for breach of contract after he was let go from its master’s in education program and expelled from student teaching jobs.
He said the recordings ranged from “daily activities within the confines of my home such as family conversations to include all phone conversations, emails and other private communication.”
The Vancouver-based sheriff’s office assigned Deputy Greg Marek to investigate.
A day after Ratekin filed his report, Marek wrote his own — noting that Ratekin blamed USD for what he called “persistent surveillance.”
But the 27-year-old resident of Brush Prairie, Wash., was “unable to articulate why or provide any other information to determine if a crime is occurring, to prove these acts are occurring, or if evidence is present,” Marek wrote Nov. 8, according to records obtained by Times of San Diego.
Ratekin’s accusations didn’t stop there.
According to court records, he says USD is circulating a “defamatory dossier,” part of a “chain of harassment” that prevents him from getting a job in education.
The former UC San Diego water polo star and title-winning coach also says his former lawyer, via San Diego Law Groups, overcharged him “in excess of $34,000” — meant to “financially cripple” him.
Ratekin has issued dozens of civil subpoenas. On Feb. 11 alone, he sought information from META (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and the CEOs of Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube.
Also, Tony Thurmond, the California superintendent of public instruction.
Two weeks later, after filing a FOIA request, he issued a civil subpoena to the U.S. Transportation Department’s Nathan Richmond — whom he erringly called the secretary of transportation. (It’s Pete Buttigieg. Richmond is deputy assistant inspector general.)
The DOT subpoena was “regarding pervasive surveillance, social media harassment and technological interference pursuant to ‘drone surveillance’ of Plaintiff Nicholas Christian Ratekin.”
(The Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General in mid-February responded to his FOIA requests, saying it has “no records responsive to your request” but suggesting he write the Federal Aviation Administration” for drone records.)
And on March 10, Ratekin — still acting as his own attorney — issued a subpoena to AT&T CEO John T. Stankey regarding Ratekin’s “text messages, iMessages, Phone Calls, Application Data (Snapchat), Cellular Data, or any other form of digital data stored, maintained, or managed by AT&T being posted to social media, particularly Facebook (META), in an effort to publicly humiliate and defame” him.
All of these demands came before a March 14 hearing before Judge Eddie Sturgeon in San Diego Superior Court, where USD won its motion to stop Ratekin from issuing ceaseless subpoenas.
“The Court informs counsel and Plaintiff he will not allow any further discovery,” Sturgeon wrote. “Any future requests shall be made before the Court via ex-parte.”
Ratekin is taking up Sturgeon’s offer.
On Thursday, the self-professed Donald Trump fan will ask Sturgeon for clarification of the no-discovery orders.
He wants Sturgeon to define the “scope” and “parameters” of his civil subpoenas. Ratekin aims to prevent USD from sending the “defamatory dossier” to Concordia University Irvine, a private Lutheran school where he says he’s gained admission to pursue a master’s degree in coaching and exercise science.
In court filings, Ratekin says he’s experienced harassment from National University as a result of his USD student records being sent to NU “in violation” of his FERPA student-privacy rights.
(“A FERPA complaint was filed with the United States Department of Education in response to said violation on or about January 2022 with a finalized report pending completion of the investigation,” Ratekin wrote.)
Despite his stellar academic record, he says, he’s struck out in efforts to find a job via the EdJoin platform. He’s sought positions in a dozen counties, including San Diego.
He blames “a pervasive, unrelenting and 24/7 ‘defamation of character’ social media campaign initiated by Scripps Ranch High School in the San Diego Unified School District during the Scripps Ranch Boys and Girls Water Polo Team Seasons beginning May 19th, 2021.”
“Plaintiff Nicholas Christian Ratekin believes the San Diego Unified School District seeks to continue this Social Media defamation of character campaign up to the statute of limitations,” he writes.
Ratekin says he’s seeking a change of venue for his Nov. 4, 2022, trial.
He wants it moved to Riverside County “given the defamation and its hyper-concentration in the Greater San Diego Area pursuant to the ‘viral nature’ of the Facebook defamation as a means of retaliation and intimidation against Plaintiff meant to unduly influence or ‘poison’ potential jury pools.”
Ratekin hasn’t responded to Times of San Diego requests for examples of defamatory social media.
At the same hearing Thursday, Ratekin also is seeking court approval of a series of deposition requests.
He wants to question USD and National University officials as well as state schools chief Thurmond.
He says he wants to ascertain why the California Department of Education closed Thrive Charter School in June 2019 after Ratekin taught there.
“Plaintiff Nicholas Christian Ratekin understands from his time teaching at Thrive that the school failed basic learning outcomes, California state graduation rate criteria and California state literacy criteria,” Ratekin wrote in a May 9 filing.
“This failure to meet basic California State Education Standards occurred simultaneously while indoctrinating students with ‘left-wing’ ideology such as staged ‘protests’ and reading materials such as ‘Malcom X’ that contained both expletive and racists slurs.”
Ratekin concluded: “These reading materials concretely attacked Christianity as ‘white devil’ ideology which flies in the face of a Catholic University such as the University of San Diego. … Ratekin identifies as a Christian (Protestant) and expected the University of San Diego to share some remblance [sic] of those values.”
Updated at 4:37 p.m. May 19, 2022