(CN) – A CNN reporter did not defame a monastery that sent a DVD called “Death and the Journey to Hell” to a transgender woman, a New York appeals court ruled.
Frederick and Robert Dimond and Most Holy Family Monastery sued CNN, its reporter Jane Velez-Mitchell, Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting.
On its website the monastery describes its mission as “defending the Catholic faith, exposing the false Post-Vatican II Counter Church.”
CNN lost its place in the church’s good graces when Velez-Mitchell interviewed a transgender woman who had received a letter from the California Department of Motor Vehicles by an employee who purportedly disapproved of gender changes.
After the transgender woman obtained a restraining order against the DMV employee in question, she received a DVD from the monastery called “Death and the Journey to Hell,” along with a pamphlet containing scriptural references.
Velez-Mitchell remarked in the interview: “Sounds like – it’s very threatening. And it gets worse. That same day a DVD arrived from a fundamentalist church warning that homosexuals must be put to death.”
The Supreme Court of Allegheny County, N.Y., dismissed the ensuing complaint by the monastery, and an appellate panel in Rochester affirmed on July 3.
In an unsigned opinion, the appeals court stated that Velez-Mitchell’s report was protected by absolute privilege because it concerned “pending judicial proceedings commenced by the woman in California after her personal information had allegedly been misused by the DMV employee.”
Velez-Mitchell’s statement “provided background facts for the woman’s claims in pending and anticipated judicial proceedings, and the broadcast as a whole was a ‘substantially accurate’ report of the judicial proceedings,” the ruling continues.
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