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« on: December 11, 2004, 04:21:30 AM »

Teacher's Defamation Suit Charges ACLU with Disregard for Truth

by Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
December 10, 2004

(AgapePress) - A Louisiana elementary school teacher has filed a defamation lawsuit against the American Civil Liberties Union, three ACLU employees, and a lesbian mother who claims her son was disciplined for using the word "gay" in the classroom.

The lawsuit alleges the ACLU caused damage and injury to Lafayette teacher Terry Bethea by disseminating "untrue and defamatory" statements about her. According to the civil liberties group, Bethea told student Marcus McLaurin "his family is a dirty word" because his mother, Sharon Huff, is in a lesbian relationship.

However, according to Bethea's attorney, Max Jordan, the ACLU tried to blow up the incident to advance its political and cultural agenda. He says the elementary school where Bethea worked was "being inundated with telephone calls and faxes from news media, responding to a press release that had been sent out to hundreds of media outlets."

According to Jordan, the ACLU's press release poured the details of the incident on thick by "alleging that this second grader had been scolded in front of his classmates, had to write lines at a behavioral clinic -- basically making the teacher out to be a monster." However, Bethea contends that the ACLU's and Sharon Huff's accusations that the teacher told the second-grade student that "gay" is a bad word and punished him for talking about his mother's lifestyle are completely false.

Jordan says the eight-year-old was disciplined for being disruptive in class, not for discussing his mother's lifestyle with other classmates, and the teacher never scolded him in front of the rest of the class for using the word "gay," as the ACLU officials contended.

To this day, the attorney says he does not understand where these "fabrications" came from. Nevertheless, he says the ACLU's false allegations were disseminated to dozens of TV networks, including ABC News and CNN, focusing all kinds of negative attention on Bethea.

After this occurred, Jordan says Bethea was targeted for personal attack by members of the public and the press, and she began suffering with depression and anxiety. He says she received "literally hundreds of telephone calls and letters -- 'hate mail,' you might call it, and hate telephone calls -- from people all over the country, who would call or write her, berating her for doing the things that the ACLU said were true."

Now the Louisiana teacher, who is currently on sabbatical, is seeking more than $50,000 for unspecified damages in the defamation lawsuit Jordan filed on her and her husband's behalf, claiming injured reputations and emotional suffering. The attorney says the suit is primarily aimed at the reckless conduct of the ACLU and its callous disregard for the truth, and that Bethea was, unfortunately, caught in the middle.


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