Deacon Sues Church Pastor For Defamation

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) - A deacon at Unity Missionary Baptist Church is suing his pastor for $1 million over a letter the pastor wrote about the deacon "being seen with another woman."

Walter Gaines' defamation lawsuit refers to an Oct. 7 letter he said the Rev. Willie Gardner Jr. sent to deacons and other church members asking that Gaines step down as a deacon for three months.

"Being a married man and being seen with another woman, on several outing. We feel that this is not appropriate as a deacon of Unity," the letter read.

The lawsuit also said Gardner made statements to church members about Gaines "impugning his moral character through innuendo."

The suit did not say what Gardner told others in the 150-member church.

Gardner said Tuesday that he had no comment about the lawsuit filed Monday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

"I'm concerned of how it might reflect on the church," he said.

Both Gardner and Gaines have been with the church the last seven years.

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