This is hardly a love story for the books. Famed romance writer Nicholas Sparks is under fire after a new lawsuit was filed, alleging his heart has far more hate than love.
The Notebook author, 48, has found himself in a legal dispute with a man named Saul Hillel Benjamin, who was once the headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern, N.C., which Sparks founded eight years ago. On Thursday, Oct. 2, Benjamin filed a lawsuit claiming that Sparks fostered an environment of exclusion, racism, and homophobia.
"As Mr. Benjamin sadly found out, the school harbors a veritable cauldron of bigotry toward individuals who are not traditionally Christian, and especially those who are non-white," the lawsuit reads, according to the Associated Press.
Specific allegations include a claim that "Sparks insisted that Mr. Benjamin stop talking about Islam, Judaism, or any other non-Christian religion" at school events, and another that Sparks "indicated that Mr. Benjamin should utilize less public and visible means if he sought to meet with African-Americans."
The former headmaster of the North Carolina private school is seeking financial retribution after ending his term with Sparks' institution.
The allegations were swiftly denied by Sparks and his camp. "As a gay, Jewish man who has represented Nick for almost 20 years I find these allegations completely ludicrous and offensive," the author's entertainment attorney Scott Schwimer said in a statement.
The Dear John writer himself chimed in on Facebook, as well. "You may have heard about the grievances filed by the former headmaster of The Epiphany School, the school which I founded in 2006," he wrote. "I emphatically reject his claims, but beyond that I’m deeply saddened by their nature, given the fact that I founded Epiphany with the express purpose of creating a truly global and multicultural institution, accessible to individuals of all races, religions, and orientations. This is a painful experience for me, but I want to thank all of you for your support . . . your faith and loyalty mean the world to me."
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