Monterey priest, church must pay $149,500 in defamation case

A Superior Court jury decided a Monterey Episcopal church and priest must pay $149,500 for defaming a parishioner in what was described as church gossip run amok.

Rayn Random, 73, sued the Rev. William Martin and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Monterey for telling other church members she pursued him sexually and that she was really a man with fake breasts.

“I’m so glad it’s over. It’s been a long four and a half years,” Random said after Wednesday’s verdict.

Martin, 42, declined comment.

The jury decided Martin defamed Random while in his capacity as St. John’s leader, opening up the church to liability for his actions. St. John’s attorney Andy Swartz said insurance will cover the $148,500 award to Random.

The jury also ordered Martin to pay $1,000 in punitive damages to a charity of Random’s choice. She said she would give the money to an animal welfare charity.

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