Pastor sued for defamation

The Edmonton Sun, Canada/December 15, 2011

An Edmonton realtor has launched a $45,000 lawsuit against her former church pastor after alleging he publicly defamed her following a confidential chat.

According to a statement of claim filed in Edmonton's Court of Queen's Bench on Dec. 6, Flordeliza Avila alleges Manuel Gonzales "caused her distress, humiliation and embarrassment" by falsely telling her church congregation that she was guilty of "immoral acts and tendencies."

Avila says the alleged Aug. 6 incident happened during a child dedication ceremony at the Cedar Park Motel while Gonzales was a pastor with her church.

"During this ceremony, the defendant, by words and gestures, stated to the assembled congregation that the plaintiff was guilty of desires and acts that would be considered immoral to that audience and in that community and he ridiculed and mocked her for it to them," says the statement of claim. "She in fact was not guilty of any of the above and the comments are, in any event, untrue and not reasonably founded or held."

Avila alleges that the implication that she was guilty of these immoral acts and tendencies was such that she was brought into hatred, ridicule, disrepute or contempt among her peers and that her self-respect and standing in the Filipino community are now accordingly diminished.

Avila also alleges that the comments made by Gonzales were based on a "misinterpretation of facts" that were "disclosed in confidence" to him "as part of his pastoral duties" and "should have been kept confidential."

Avila claims Gonzales was asked to issue an apology and retraction to both her and to the congregation, but says he has refused to do so.

Avila is seeking $25,000 for the defamation and breach of confidence, $10,000 in aggravated damages and $10,000 in punitive damages.

A statement of defence has not yet been filed.

Statements of claim and statements of defence contain allegations which have not been proven in court.

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