Nicholas Sparks—whose formulaic romance novels have been turned into movies like The Notebook, Dear John and The Lucky One—is facing a lawsuit alleging he's a racist, homophobic anti-Semite.
Back in 2006, Sparks and his wife donated $10 million to start the Epiphany School of Global Studies, a private prep school with Christian underpinnings in North Carolina. Now the school's former headmaster, Saul Benjamin, is alleging Sparks created a hostile work environment that led to his departure.
In court documents, Benjamin claimed Sparks made numerous offensive comments—including that the school's lack of diversity was due to the fact that black students were "too poor and can't do the academic work."
Not surprisingly, Sparks and his legal team deny the accusations. His entertainment lawyer, Scott Schwimer, said in a statement that "as a gay, Jewish man who has represented Nick for almost 20 years I find these allegations completely ludicrous and offensive."
Sparks—who's novel The Best of Me is being released as a movie with James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan on October 17—took to Facebook to address the suit himself:
I emphatically reject [these] 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.
William Tyler Cohn, an alumni of The Epiphany School told WCTI-TV he was "outraged" by Benjamin's accusations, but confirmed a request to create an LGBT group was denied. "They were not granted permission to hold the club and meet as a club. HOWEVER, they were not bullied and bullying was in NO way encouraged," he said.
If the Epiphany School truly does stand for "creating a truly global and multicultural institution, accessible to individuals of all races, religions, and orientations," why was the gay-straight alliance blocked?
Hopefully more from this story will surface as the suit progresses.