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Home arrow Lawsuit Related arrow Wapakoneta Daily News - Former Way member alleges wrongdoing
Wapakoneta Daily News - Former Way member alleges wrongdoing Print E-mail

Wapakoneta Daily News 06/28/00
Former Way member alleges wrongdoing


SIDNEY -- The Way International Inc. is facing litigation from another former member.

Sherman Oaks, 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 defer."

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 the organization.

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."

Martindale, Rivenbark, 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.

Way International 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 more."

Staff writer William Laney contributed to this story.