What do you do with someone that accepts gossip as truth and proceeds to defame you personally on the basis of rumor from unreliable sources? What if later, the defamer discovers just how unreliable the source was and changes their behavior toward you based on the new information?
Does that person owe you an apology? Maybe a public apology?
Sometimes, in the process of getting to know people, there is a learning curve. What seems to be the truth about someone on the surface does not always stand up under closer scrutiny. Instead of lapsing into immediate judgement because of a dramatic story you have heard, an investigation might be required. Perhaps even something direct and one on one. You want to learn the truth of a situation? Ask for it. Bring the situation to a head. Generally one of the parties will break and all the facts will become known. Manipulation should never be a part of that investigation and neither should lying to someone to learn the truth be part of that process.
The best process is to allow things to work out over time if you have time. It's my experience that the truth always comes out. Never allow yourself to be mislead by someone that does not know the party in question - especially if you do not know either one very well to begin with.
It might also be a time to broker a peace treaty between the individuals, especially if the injured party knows about the gossip. Or maybe there is bad blood on both sides of the issue. Perhaps they do not like each other - a personality clash if you will. A workable peace might be possible, but only if someone is willing not to side with either party until the truth is discovered.
I am sorry to say - and I do apologize for this - that I have been on all sides of these situations.
I have repeated gossip as truth. I have been angry when some one did the same to me. I have retaliated. I have accepted gossip as truth and taken sides without proper investigation. And I have judged on the basis of appearance, voice and mannerisms.
I am here to say that none of that was right. I hate the use of circumstantial evidence in the legal system and I should also detest it in personal relationships.
The bottom line is that we should not make judgements about others when we have no solid evidence that an accusation is true. If we follow Jesus' instruction to treat others as we would like to be treated, this should remedy that situation.
I'm done now. Dismounting the high horse. Thanks for listening.