A pastor in Walkersville, looking to clear his name, is saying he may consider legal action against a local news website that published an inaccurate report.

“It’s just very troubling to me,” the Rev. Philip Curran said, “that somebody can put anything on the Internet and peddle it as true.”

In advance of a public hearing about crime in Walkersville last week, GladeValley.net, a news site covering the town, published a post about residents’ concerns about police activity at a house on Fulton Avenue.

The story included allegations about residents of the house, and about the Rev. Curran, whose church rents out the house, that state police and court records, in checks by The Frederick News-Post, do not substantiate.

A resident of the house in question declined to comment when a Frederick News-Post reporter called her because, the woman said, the family was also considering legal action.

GladeValley.net site manager Mike Kuster, who did not write the article but did review it before it went online, ran an apology later that day that stated that the author of the article, John Culver, would no longer be writing for GladeValley.net.

Kuster said he was confronted by the resident of the Fulton Avenue home mentioned in the article after the public hearing, so he removed the story from the website.

“That’s a good start,” said Richard Bricken, a legal representative for the residents of the house. “And if nothing occurs, then my experience is that time will take care of itself.”

Even though the piece was deleted, Curran said the damage was already done.

The story was shared more than 600 times on Facebook, he said. It was also featured on the blog, fredericklocalyokel.com.

Curran expressed concern about the damage done to his reputation, adding that he heard through his Glade United Church of Christ congregation that at least one person worried he might be in some kind of legal trouble.

Curran has been in contact with lawyers who said Wednesday it was not clear if he will take legal action regarding the posting.

The Frederick News-Post requested an interview with the author of the article through Kuster, but received no response as of Friday.

Kuster took responsibility for the reporting errors, he said, and he did not correct them when editing because he misunderstood the precise definitions of relevant legal terms.

“I’m going to certainly check more closely if we ever have anything like this again,” he said. “I think it was a matter of semantics.”

The inaccurate statement regarding Curran was based on a report from a neighbor, Kuster said, which was not confirmed with official sources.

“I think it’s been handled incorrectly all around,” Kuster continued, adding that elected officials and the church should have been more proactive about neighbors’ concerns, and he should have been more careful editing the report.

“We all need to work together to make sure that the community heals from this,” he said.

He has plans to personally apologize to the residents of the Fulton Avenue house, but he said he has not had a chance to do so because of work obligations.

Kuster ran an unsuccessful campaign for a commissioner’s seat in Walkersville and announced a write-in campaign for burgess after the crime hearing last week. However, he said, the timing of the story had nothing to do with the election.

Rather, Kuster continued, it was intended to publicize neighbors’ unheeded concerns in advance of the crime hearing.

One resident contacted church leadership in 2012 in a strongly worded email requesting a “plan of action to address our safety concerns ... that must include the removal of said tenants,” from the Fulton Ave. house, according to emails provided to The News-Post by Curran.

Officers responded to 24 calls for service at the property since 2005, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, including two “follow up visits” and three calls to assist other officers.

Curran said that he has listened to concerns by neighbors, but “the Gospel does not allow for eviction.”

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.

(6) comments

FrederickReader

Why isn’t this article titled “Walkersville Pastor Harbors Criminals”? With 24 calls for police service to the property, at what point does a responsible landlord evict the tenants? Christ said turn the other cheek – but how many cheeks did our Lord have? Is there not a point where the responsible (and Biblical) thing to do is to evict and exercise reasonable judgment and consideration for the community?

KellyAlzan

The original story published in the aforementioned news had listed a log of all the police calls to the address. And it appeared to me that they report came direct from MSP, based on how the groupings were worded.

How is the FNP saying the claim is unsubstianiated?

Did someone from within MSP delete the call log?

The pastor is protecting the family.

The new burgess is protecting the pastor.

What on earth is going on here?

annonuser

Can someone post the "Defamatory" statement? The number of police calls sounds factual. Apparently these tenants rent a house owned by this guy via his "church" seems factual. Neighbors are free to express concerns. The gospel don't allow no evictions (really), but the gobment do. Are the rent revenues and tax filings being done properly, this church statet tax treatment can be a sticky wicket, jes sayin'. This whole story/issue is muddy and confusing. Hey FNP can you sort this out with a factual story? Pretty please.

public-redux

Re Gospels and eviction.

Just curious, are you referencing the story in Matthew 18 about the hypocritical servant?

KellyAlzan

does "the Gospel" allow for filing lawsuits?

public-redux

"he has listened to concerns by neighbors, but “the Gospel does not allow for eviction.”"

The tenants in the house should stop paying rent since their landlord won't evict them.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!