Can State Actors be Liable for Defamation?
That seems like a perfectly clear, open and shut case of deliberate defamation—making an injurious statement with reckless disregard of whether it was true. Does sovereign immunity protect people who make such statements if they are working for the state?
There is an interesting related factual question to which I do not yet know the answer. Shortly before releasing the claim that, out of 52 girls age 14-17, 31 were pregnant or had been mothers, the state authorities reclassified a group of 20+ women--I don't have an exact figure--as minors. I have seen no figures on how many of those were among the "mothers or pregnant" group. If all of them were, and if many are not minors, I think that would provide very strong evidence that the defamation was deliberate—that the state was choosing to lie about the age of those women in order to create bogus evidence against the FLDS.