Weatherford Democrat

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October 8, 2012

State Supreme Court may hear local defamation case


— WallBuilders case

Barton, who founded WallBuilders to educate the nation “concerning the Godly foundation of our country,” to provide information to government officials and to encourage Christian to be civically engaged, is suing the two educators and former candidates, alleging they defamed him and his company, causing a loss of business.

A Jennings and Bell-Metereau campaign video published on YouTube in September 2010 describes some former board of education members as extremists attempting to take truth from public school textbooks and David Barton, a policy adviser to some members, as “known for speaking at white-supremacist rallies.”

The video appears to reference a couple of Barton’s speaking engagements in 1991 to groups linked to the Christian Identity movement that later made the news.

Barton said in court filings that he was not aware of the groups’ ideology at the time and has not spoken to such groups since. He is alleging Jennings and Bell-Metereau have falsely painted him as a white supremacist sympathizer and liar.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from the defendants for allegedly exposing Barton and WallBuilders to “public hatred, contempt, ridicule, financial injury and impeaching [Barton’s] honesty, integrity and virtue.”

Jennings and Bell-Metereau believed what was said in the video was true, Ford said, adding that whether the statements were true or not would be something that would come out in a trial court.

If the women thought the statements were true, they should not have been sued, according to Ford.

Last year, Bell-Metereau characterized the suit as “frivolous” and speculated that Barton may be trying to intimidate people from running for office.

Her clients don’t have a lot of money and litigation is expensive, Ford said.

Voicemail messages left Friday with attorneys at the firm representing Barton were not returned by deadline.

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