Daily News 06/28/00
Former Way member alleges wrongdoing
By SHANNON McGLAUGHLIN
SIDNEY -- The Way International Inc. is
facing litigation from another former member.
Calif.-based attorney Lawrence Levy has filed a lawsuit in Shelby County Common Pleas Court on
behalf of Ms. Parker, a member of The Way for approximately 20 years. In the
suit, Parker alleges she was subjected to breach of contract, breach of
fiduciary duty, fraud, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, racketeer influence
and corrupt organization.
The suit names as
defendants the Rev. Loy C. Martindale, former president of The Way; current Way
president Rosalie F. Rivenbark; John R. Reynolds, a legal representative for
the Way; and Way members Donald E. Wierwille and Howard R. Allen.
According to the
complaint, Parker was recruited by the New Knoxville-based religious group in
the winter of 1978 and became an employee of the organization. Parker's
complaint claimed because of promises made to her by The Way and its leadership,
she "abandoned her family, friends and discontinued the pursuit of her
secular education, underwent training in the apprentice Way Corps at her own
expense, worked as directed by the Way Leadership and The Way International ...
all in pursuit of receiving the 'deferred benefits' which she tacitly agreed to
Parker further alleged
The Way and its leaders breached their contract with her by "creating
impossible working conditions including, but not limited to, requiring (Parker)
to submit to sexual assault as a condition of continued employment" with
Parker also claimed The
Way misused its relationship with her "so as to cause the failure of
(Parker's) marriage, to coerce (Parker) into taking obscene photographs of
Defendant Rev. Martindale and to posing for similar photographs."
Parker further alleged
The Way leaders shared confidential information about the female members of The
Way -- including herself -- with other Way members.
Parker stated she was
subjected by officials of The Way to "humiliation ... for their own
personal amusement and gratification."
Parker, whose address is
being withheld by the court because of her "fear of physical harm or
threats from current or former (Way International) adherents," is seeking
$25,000 as well as punitive damages, attorney's fees and any other awards
determined by the court.
According to court
documents, the defendants were served summons dated June 23 and have 28 days to
answer the complaint.
The Way International is
also facing a lawsuit filed in April by former members The Allens, claiming
breach of contract, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress,
fraud in a fiduciary capacity, defamation of character and civil conspiracy.
The suit also alleges The
Way and its leadership engaged in a "pattern of corrupt activity" as
defined by the Ohio Revised Code "including, but not limiting to acts of
theft, fraud, coercion, assault and rape."
Reynolds, Wierwille and Allen are also named as defendants in the Allens' suit,
as are Ramona Biden and up to 50 unnamed members of "The Way
Leadership." Attorneys for The Way filed a motion May 15 to force the
Allens to name those unnamed defendants or drop them from the suit.
After the Allens filed
the suit, Martindale admitted to having an affair with Mrs. Allen, but claimed
it was mutually consentual. Martindale resigned as president of The Way
effective April 20.
spokesman Rico Magnelli was unavailable for comment on the suit at press time,
and the organization has not yet released an official statement.
Levy, who is also
representing the Allens, said Monday he will not be taking on any further cases
involving The Way, but said he would not be surprised if similar lawsuits crop
up in the future.
"If ground is
fertile and the rain comes and the sun shines, then it may be ripe for the
picking," Levy said. "I am somewhat amazed that there aren't
Staff writer William
Laney contributed to this story.