FREMONT, OH — Controversial pastor Gary Click (R-Fremont), a candidate for State Representative of the 88th Ohio House district, filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a recent lawsuit filed in the Sandusky County Common Pleas Court against him.
According to court documents obtained by TiffinOhio.net News, a team of attorneys representing Ohio Senate candidate Melissa Ackison (R-Marysville) have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas for Sandusky County against Gary Click for defamation and slander.
“Defendant Click vehemently denies each and every allegation lodged in Plaintiffs Complaint. The allegations are false. Even more concerning, however, is that the allegations are intended to be inflammatory for the purpose of advancing Plaintiff’s political campaign,” a letter filed in the Sandusky County Common Pleas Court from Click’s attorney claims.
Click’s attorneys are arguing that any of his statements should be considered “political speech,” which should be “free from liability.”
“For decades, the United States Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court have recognized the fundamental role of protecting political speech from liability,” the letter continues.
The lawsuit claims Pastor Gary Click “ambushed” Ackison at the Republican Party booth at the Union County Fair in August. According to the lawsuit, Click stated to Ackison that she was “trash, that no one liked her, and she was a phony.” The incident was recorded and made statewide news, as noted in the lawsuit.
Since the Union County Fair incident in August, Gary Click has “repeatedly sought to disparage and/or harm [Ackison] and/or [Ackison’s] reputation by intentionally seeking out supporters of [Ackison], fellow Republicans, [Ackison’s] donors, and County Republican Central Committee members located in the 26th district,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Click has also “sought to intentioally disparage and/or harm [Ackison] by meeting with organizations that offer endorsements to political candidates, such as Ohio Value Voters.” According to the lawsuit, Click has told various individuals and organizations that Ackison is “anti-Semitic and a Muslim sympathizer” and that Ackison and/or her husband are in “financial despair and have filed bankruptcy.”
In addition, the lawsuit states that Click has claimed Ackison is “a criminal and/or [Ackison] has a criminal record,” all of which are “false and untrue,” according to Ackison’s legal team.
Click and his attorney, however, disagree.
“This lawsuit is nothing more than an ill-conceived attempt to silence Click’s free speech rights,” the letter from Click’s attorney states.
Ackison’s legal team states in the lawsuit that she is “entitled to general and special damages in an amount exceeding $25,000.”