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Am I guilty of libel and slander. I shared truthful information with 2 pastors I work under, a mediator, and victim of a man.

Twin Falls, ID |

The individual has threated us with libel and slander because he claims we have harmed his ministry and business. We started the ministry with him, but he questionable legal decisions about how to spend the money and generate revenue. My wife and I counseled with 2 pastors we work with, 1 mediator, and a license practical counselor (because of stress). One of his victims has been very vocal, early on we shared with her our story, now I think she is sharing that with others. We have never made untruthful statements, we have tried to reconcile, but the man turned on the mediator and made accusations against the mediator. The man is demanding we recant our story (not sure what exactly he wants us to recant ) or he will file multiple lawsuits. His letters did not come from an attorney.

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Attorney answers 4


No one can say anything reliable or useful at this distance about this factual circumstance. There are too many specific facts that need to be considered in context. You will need to consult with an attorney for an analysis of this situation, legal advice, and an assessment of your options.

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Ms. McCall has said about all that anyone here can say with certainty, which basically is that no one here can say anything with certainty. If you want an opinion about your situation, consult with a local attorney and tell that attorney everything.

I'll still hazard a couple of things, but I'm really just speculating. If you said things about this man in private pastoral counseling sessions of your own, I assume that the counselor has kept your words private, and what you said is also likely to be privileged (though I don't know the specifics of ID law, where I'm not licensed). The non-pastoral counseling also possibly is privileged, but without knowing more, I won't even guess further. I don't know the nature - or the formality or informality - of your mediation, but it also seems at least conceivable that what you said in mediation also is privileged. I wonder if there was a formal confidentiality agreement that everybody, including the man, agreed to before the mediation. If so, you may find some protection there.

From your question, I guess that the main problem may be with what you told this man's fellow victim, who may have passed what you said along to others. (I notice incidentally that you haven't really described the nature of the information that he man is complaining about. That was a good decision by you; don't risk making things worse. There is no attorney-client privilege in communications on this public forum.) So - piecing things together - I'm guessing that if derogatory information about this man is getting spread around widely, it's through this woman, your fellow victim. So if you have a real potential problem, it's through her. If she hasn't actually repeated what you said to her, you could ask her not to. Still, though, I'm speculating.

People do bluster about suing for defamation all the time, and most don't ever follow up. But if you want real peace of mind - to the extent you can get it from a lawyer rather than a pastor - you do need to speak at length with a local attorney. If it's within a professional attorney-client relationship, that conversation should be privileged and shouldn't create any additional risk. Maybe that attorney can reassure you that you don't have anything to worry about. Or maybe that attorney can do something to put a stop to the threats and prevent the man from following through. Sometimes even a letter under an attorney's letterhead can have a powerful effect.

Good luck and best wishes.


More information is needed to evaluate. Discuss in detail with a lawyer from your state


Hire Idaho counsel. Do not delay. Do not wait to see if you are sued. AVVO is a great place to find Idaho counsel, but the only good advice anyone on this website should offer, is to hire counsel without delay. You are here because you have a legal question. You need a real legal opinion. You need to hire legal counsel to get it. You are not going to get it on a free message board. A serious legal issue requires serious legal advice. It is worth spending the little amount of money required to get it. Good luck.

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