As many of you know, I have been at a Christian high school summer camp as a counselor since Sunday. We had been expecting the results any day, so I had my smartphone which is really pretty much useless when you are in a remote area. There's one spot out by the flagpole where I can get internet about 80% of the time. Crazy. But thankfully, my attorney told me what time her mail came so I didn't have to keep checking throughout day.
So yesterday, I was with one of my campers having precious one-on-one time. We had been talking about 30 minutes or so on the dining hall deck (close to the same place of the earlier picture I posted - Sunday). I noticed one of the camp directors hanging around. After the meeting with my camper was finished, the director told me that there was a phone call from my attorney and it was good news. I tried to get to the flagpole to get to the e-mail quickly, but the internet was not cooperating, so I went to the office and called Linda. The news was better than I imagined - every single claim dismissed. We only spoke for a couple minutes, but oh how sweet that news was.
I ran outside to tell the staff person the news and she said, "Go!, Go!" and shooed me out. All four camp directors knew of the case and knew that I would need to have a little time to send out information. So, back up those stairs I sprinted, grabbed my laptop and came to the counselor's lounge where there was decent internet.
I sat down on the couch and with tears in my eyes, I tried to absorb what this meant. My attorney, Linda Williams, had prepared me that there certainly was the possibility that the lower court might miss something or be confused about something. When my close friends asked how I thought the case would go, I told them I thought that everything would get dismissed except the sexual abuse comment. I based this on the judge's question in the courtroom and also the media response. I knew, of course, the phrase wasn't defamatory, but that's where I thought it might get hung up and was mentally prepared to deal with that.
My attorney was nothing short of amazing. She was confident from the very beginning. Why? Because she knows the law. She knew our phrases were not defamatory. From our first meeting where she, Hannah, and I met at a coffee shop, Linda went over the original complaint with a pencil or pen and pointed out phrase after phrase: "no, that's not defamatory, that's opinion", "this is just not defamatory". Or she pointed out that phrases had to do with religion and "the courts will not touch those". She believes in First Amendment rights and what it means for Americans. I am so thankful for Linda, for the many, many hours she worked on our case, and the many combined hours she spent on the phone with Hannah, Meaghan, and me. She was so reassuring the entire time. Linda Williams, thank you so much!!
So here we are - the case100% dismissed. Wow. I saw a comment wondering if my former pastor/church can appeal. I asked my attorney this question. Yes, they can appeal. I would not be surprised if they do. I am not afraid. First Amendment is Linda's thing. Simply put, our words were and are not defamatory. If they appeal and it goes to a higher level court, the higher level courts have more experience with defamation and it will be even more clear to them. I am not worried.
You see those stairs right there? I am intimately acquainted with these stairs. Did I say intimately? Yes, intimately. You cannot see all of the stairs. There are two sets of stairs. I have to climb around 55 steps on the right stair case or around 65 steps on the left side to get to my cabin. The first day I was at camp, I realized that by 10AM, I had already climbed them four times. You do the math and tell me how many times those babies are climbed each day. I was going to say how awesomely buff my legs are becoming, but that hasn't happened quite yet. But at this point, I can sprint up them without running out of breath. I can hear you all woo-hooing right now. Thank you, very much. :)
With this new day, I am keenly aware that when I wrote my first Google review about my church experience - an experience that is still affecting my family today, I knew that this was a big, big battle. I was aware that it was going on in other churches. Somehow in a very strange happening, God chose to use my case to help spotlight this thing we identify as spiritual abuse. It happened quickly and now we have this amazing place where people can tell their stories, discuss how it happens, what it looks like, the results of spiritual, how to not get into a bad situation again, and so many other topics. These topics are real and very relevant to so many.
The picture of that staircase reminds me that we are climbing this battle. I am going to keep climbing the staircase of this battle even though my court case is over (at least for the time being). I am committed to this battle. Stay tuned. I will write more later when I get home. Our camp counselor's meeting will start soon, so I want to get this posted and read a few comments before our last full day of camp begins.
Big hugs to you all! Please excuse typos. I'm typing fast!