My question involves defamation in the state of: Maryland
Last year I was the Treasure of our community association. While serving, I was responsible for sending out the delinquent notices to the residents for non-payment of fees.
One resident was over 2 years behind, so no need to say, it was an ugly situation that became very uncomfortable. At no time did I EVER discuss any residents financial history or information about amounts due to the community. I always maintained a very professional approach, as these residents are also my neighbors.
This resident is also a mother of an elementary school child so our paths would cross frequently at the bus stop and many times there were ugly confrontations of her screaming obscenities, etc, in front of children and the parents. That has stopped but now she is spreading rumors that I stole household items from a neighbor that was recently evicted .
The evictees lived across the street from me and I am a good friend with the owner of the property. When these renters were evicted, the sheriff had to come and the landlord hired movers to move their belongings to the curb. The renters (who refused to move) then abandoned their property curbside and never came to retrieve it until 2 days later. Many residents came by and helped themselves as it had been abandoned. Later that night my neighbor and I went through it to see if there was anything worth taking to goodwill before the trashmen came the next morning. We loaded a car's worth and took it to goodwill. Trashmen came the next day so the mess was gone.
My question is:
Can I sue the disgruntled resident who has been telling everyone that I stole these items claiming and rallying the neighbors that I should not be allowed to serve on our Community Board, for Defamation of Character? I have done NOTHING wrong but with these lies that I "stole" while I was the Treasurer, I am having a very difficult time trying to serve / volunteer on our Board. My child has been told that I am a thief and this has gotten out of control. What can I do about this? Do I have a case? Would a Cease and desist letter from an attorney be of any help? I would like to take her to court just so I can clear my reputation. I am horrified, as I have NEVER stolen a thing in my life. I am the type that goes back to a store if they accidentally forget to ring something up or if they give me too much change.