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Bill Attorney
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I went to a program at a church that I was not a member of.

Customer Question

I went to a program at a church that I was not a member of. A church member began stalking me on Facebook and spreading false rumors about me (something specifically against the law in my state, that I have an STD). I spoke to the leaders of the workshop who denied it was happening. The people in the workshop as well as other church members began shunning me including at my place of work. I therefore wrote a negative review of the church on Yelp. The church then contacted all the conservative churches in the area (I live in the Bible Belt) and I am being shunned, literally, by virtually everybody at work, at my doctor's offices (one doctor has refused to see me, the others are backing off and doing less), and socially. I have contacted a couple of attorneys who are not interested, I suspect because they know how hard it would be to sue plus they know how powerful the churches are. Any advice? I am very concerned I will lose my job, not to mention my doctors. I'm 60 years old with health issues-not easy to find another job.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Bill Attorney replied 9 months ago.

This is attorney Bill firstly with an information request.

As defamation and privacy laws vary from State to State which State does this relate to ?

Were the accusations just verbal or also written ?

Was there any truth or maliciousness in what the church member was trying to do as this might minimize are aggravate the defamation offense ?

Please get back to me as soon as you can with this information.

Attorney Bill

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Florida. As far as I know, the accusations were just verbal, but I responded to them in writing. There was both truth and maliciousness in what the church member was trying to do. I will cut and paste a portion of my Yelp review here that explains it. I attended a Divorce/Widow Rebuilding course offered by this church. I post to a wonderful international support group on Facebook for people with genital and pelvic pain (a private group that you have to sign up for to access). For obvious reasons, I use an assumed name. One of the church "volunteers" apparently heard about this through gossip,and, having never met me, she somehow became obsessed with me, discovered my posting name, started reading the Facebook support group and my postings about my genital and pelvic pain, and gossiped behind my back to other members of the church group, even having them read my posts (I suddenly was having all these fake accounts showing up as possible "Facebook Friends"). I spoke to the organizers about this and they clearly knew what was going on but denied everything and whitewashed the entire episode, continuing to allow the "volunteer" (who apparently is extremely active in the church) to continue. Apparently this is the kind of treatment you can expect at Trinity United Methodist Church. The church promotes numerous "missions" and then denies they are part of the church, effectively washing their hands of any responsibility for the misbehavior of the participants. Sounds like a lot of churches in the news, doesn't it? Expect lots of crosses around necks and Facebook postings about Him, AKA "Sunday morning Christians"--people who put on a good show for a few hours on Sunday. But ask yourself which side this church actually works for, Good, or Evil?I have received several questions regarding the rumors that were spread about me. Since nobody from the church ever verified any of the rumors with me,much less apologized for the way I was treated (with disgust) I can only guess by the bits and pieces that floated back to me. In August 1987, back before healthcare professionals were conscious about infection control and when hardly any of us wore gloves, I caught the ORAL herpes virus (the cold sore virus) by holding hands with a 3 year old patient who had been picking at his cold sores. I mentioned in the Facebook forum on women's pain disorders that the herpes virus is believed to "hop" from one nerve to another. For instance, the cold sore virus can hop to the ear and cause Meniere's Disease or hop to a nerve in the face and cause Trigeminal neuralgia. It's also thought that cutaneous herpes can hop to interior pelvic nerves, possibly causing bladder issues and other female pain. I suggested that because the virus is so prevalent and most people don't know they have it, that all members of the forum should try taking anti-virals to see if that helped with their pain. Apparently, from this private Facebook posting, my church stalker decided to tell everyone in the Divorce/Rebuilding group (presumably under the guise of "protecting" them, and with the full approval of the church elders running the program) that I had a sexually transmitted disease (NOT TRUE). Ironically my stalker is a nurse practitioner with a specialty in Infectious Diseases, so she knows full well that, statistically speaking, over half the women in the Divorce/Rebuilding group likely had genital herpes (50-80% of single women between the ages of 40-50 have genital herpes--Google "Why you should assume everyone has herpes.") And for those 50% of the single women in the church who DO have a sexually transmitted disease, will the other 50% now treat them with disgust? Perhaps this church uses a special edition of the Bible that is missing the story of Mary Magdalene (sarcasm). And why would a church member be signing onto a private group in Facebook to read about other women's genital and pelvic pain in the first place? Beware churches that preach love on their websites and practice "whisper campaigns" of hate behind closed doors. Read less
Expert:  Bill Attorney replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for informing me of the contents of the defamatory speech. Obviously verbally passing on that you may have a STD is something that defames your character in the church community that you have been involved in.

I'm sorry to hear that your otherwise informative facebook posting on what you considered to a guide to help preventing future infection was used as a means and tool to later shun your character in the church and online.

As far as unwarranted attention to your facebook page, I think you are in charge of your privacy settings and can limit public access to your personal pages.

As far as the law is concerned, it appears to be primarily a civil matter in which your character has been wrongfully defamed in a church community that you have become part of.

Obviously in cuch a conservative setting an allegation of having an STD when you do not is wrongly denigrating your character.

Florida law on defamation in particular slander as in your case has the following elements :

a publication

a false statement

The statement must be negligently made or maliciously

you must have been damaged

and the statement must have defamed you

The Florida Supreme Court in Jews v Rapp has outlined the above conditions for a successful civil suit.

From what you have described, you may indeed have a successful civil suit against the church.

You mentioned that you had a problem locating a suitable attorney.

You can find an attorney at the Florida State bar website .

Attorneys are listed by address and areas of practice.

Many do a free consultation.




I'm here for your follow ups

Attorney Bill

Expert:  Bill Attorney replied 9 months ago.

Dear Customer ,

I hope you’re having a good day today. I see that you didn’t rate my answer positively.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO RATE GOOD TO GREAT after receiving an answer to your legal question.



I’m here to follow up on your question.

Attorney Bill