A teacher at a high school said to my daughter, “your brother better stop selling drugs or I am going to call the cops.” First, my son has been out of high school for over a year now, and does not sell drugs! We had some minor situations happen while he was in high school, but nothing to do with drugs. It was actually a song he wrote and recorded, but that’s another story.
Needless to say, this teacher said it in front of a seminar class. This is a class where students can go and do any homework needed. Approximately 3 other students heard it, and it spread like wildfire. My daughter brought it up to me.
Through numerous emails and a meeting with the high school principal, we only received a statement of “she (the teacher) has learned her lesson and this was a learning curve for us at this high school; so sad for this to happen, but we did learn from this” and “the teacher could not be here at this meeting today but wanted to send her apologies.”
This is a teacher that is in her late 40’s to early 50’s. I believe she has her bachelors degree in psychology and is going for her masters. Can you believe that?
I did call the local police department to make sure that no call has come from the school and they assured me there was no such call, and I spoke with my son about this and he adamantly denied it. I told him skeletons can come out of the closet if he is not truthful to me, they will find the truth, and he still says never did he sell drugs.
What should I do as a parent? Is this defamation per se? Any perspective you can give would be appreciated. Thank you.
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
From the facts you present there appears to be evidence of defamation per se. With defamation per se it is unnecessary for your son to prove exactly how the defamatory statement(s) injured his reputation, the mere statement by itself is enough to hold the person who made the statements civilly liable.
Defamation per se includes (among other statements, whether oral or written), a statement accusing a person of being involved in criminal activity. Selling drugs is quite obviously a criminal activity.
Of course, truth is an absolute defense. If there is any evidence, however scant, that your son sold drugs at or around the high school, then defamation does not exist.
Learn more here: Liability for Defamation of Character
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
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