A judge in Oregon is set today to hear the anti-SLAPP motion in the case of Pastor Charles O’Neal of the Beaverton Grace Bible Church, who is suing former church member Julie Anne Smith for defamation, seeking $500,000 in damages.
Smith’s blog, Beaverton Grace Bible Church Survivors, documents a cultish, creepy church. One commenter recounts a call for closet-raids to rid female church-goers of skimpy clothing.
An anti-SLAPP motion is a special kind of procedural device that allows the early summary dismissal of a lawsuit that is aimed at shutting down someone’s exercise of their First Amendment rights.
My bet is that Smith will win the anti-SLAPP motion, thus ending the lawsuit.
The best quick rundown of the fact’s is Smith’s own statement on her blog:
I began this blog in Feb. 2012 after noticing that the Google reviews I had posted of my former church were being removed. Days after the commencement of this blog, I received a legal summons suing me and three others for defamation to the tune of $500,000. The story of spiritual abuse needs to be told. People are being hurt emotionally and spiritually by pastors who use bully tactics and we need a place to learn, to talk freely, and to heal. I will not be silenced.
For me, the best evidece of Pastor Charles O’Neal’s sky-high creepster-factor is his own words, quoted by Smith on the blog, as he rails against her in a weird rant with frequent crazy-person use of ALL CAPS.
Nicely put is Smith’s February 25, 2012 response:
I wouldn’t waste my time on defamation – what is there to gain in that? I will, however, sacrifice my time and energy in speaking the truth when there is abuse of power going on and lives are at risk.
- Beaverton Church Sues Former Member Over Blog
- Fox News: Oregon mother, daughter reportedly sued for writing bad reviews of church online
- Reuters: Church Sues Ex-Members for Defamation on Blog