LEXINGTON, S.C. — An independent online South Carolina journalist has avoided jail time for refusing to name sources who gave him information related to a legislative corruption probe.

A judge ruled Monday that he won’t hold Will Folks of fitsnews.com in contempt for rejecting demands that he reveal who gave him information and may defend himself as a journalist.

Former House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham sued the writer for defamation after Folks wrote a piece saying sources told him indictments against Bingham were imminent.

Judge William Keesley ruled he is considering Folks a member of the press for purposes of his ruling. The South Carolina Press Association supported Folks’ claim, saying the case could set a dangerous precedent for journalists to be prosecuted civilly if Folks were forced to name his sources.