Court: Calif. 'Prosperity' Preacher Can Sue ABC for Defamation

A federal appeals court has reinstated a Los Angeles preacher's defamation lawsuit against ABC's popular news program "20/20."

The Rev. Frederick Price, pastor and founder of Crenshaw Christian Center, accuses the news group of playing out of context a clip from a sermon he preached more than ten years ago.

In the clip, which "20/20" aired in March 2007 as part of a segment on wealthy televangelists, Price talked about living in a 25-room mansion, owning a $6 million yacht, having a private jet and helicopter, and having seven luxury automobiles.

But the "Prosperity" preacher says his sermon was not referring to himself but illustrating the wrong way to become successful.

"[This is] one of the most outrageous instances of 'out of context' editing in the history of television," he alleged in part of the suit.

A judge, however, dismissed the case in 2007, ruling the clip was "substantially true" because Price has boasted elsewhere about his wealth.

Though he may not have all the items he listed in the clip, Price did at the time of the program's airing own a Palos Verdes mansion and have two Bentley cars, though he says one was a gift from two of his congregants.

Still, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the video portrayed Price falsely and sent the case back to the lower-court judge to determine if the preacher was defamed.

ABC, shortly after the airing of the clip, had run retractions for the program on two of their television shows – "Good Morning America" and "20/20" – as well as their website to correct the problem.

"We did make a full retraction and apology on the air," ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told the Los Angeles Times around the time of the incident, "and certainly regretted the error and made that very clear to Rev. Price."

The preacher and his lawyer, however, said the retractions were not enough.

"He was wrongly and falsely portrayed," explained Anthony Glassman, Price's lawyer.

Named in the defamation suit are the Walt Disney, Co., which owns ABC, and "20/20" co-anchor John Stossel.

Christian Post reporter Kevin P. Donovan in San Francisco contributed to this article.

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