Church Sues Former Members For Posting A Negative Review Online
from the turn-the-other-cheek? dept
Nastybutler77 was the first of a few people to send over this story of a church pastor, Charles O’Neal, of the Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Oregon, suing a former church member, Julie Anne Smith, and her family, for posting a negative review of the church online. O’Neal claims that the review was defamation, and apparently responded to Smith’s review on Google with a post about how Smith was lying and how he was planning to sue.
Some of the specifics argued in the lawsuit do seem to quite critical of the church, but it’s not clear they rise to the level of defamation:
The original report also claims that part of the lawsuit claims that using the word “creepy” is defamatory. While the factual statements might be defamatory, opinion statements such as calling a place creepy are clearly not.
For what it’s worth, Oregon appears to have a reasonably strong anti-SLAPP law, and I wonder if Smith will make use of that. It will depend on the details of her statements to see if they were truly defamatory, but the general descriptions provided certainly make it appear like a vindictive lawsuit to silence a vocal critic.