October 3, 2014
Nicholas Sparks lawsuit claims the writer is homophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist
by Julia Fleischaker
Nicholas Sparks made his name, and a fortune, as the author of sensitive “love stories” (not romance novels) like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember. But a new lawsuit claims that Sparks is not so much sensitive as a “rampaging bigot,” in the words of Page Six. Charges leveled by Sual Hillel Benjamin, the former CEO of Sparks’ Christian school (the Epiphany School for Global Studies in North Carolina), include the author being an abusive racist, homophobe, and anti-Semite.
According to the suit, Sparks—who penned The Notebook and A Walk to Remember—endorses “vulgar and discriminatory views about African-American, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.”
Benjamin was often on the receiving end of Sparks’ vile remarks about non-Christians while the former CEO was still employed by the school, the papers say.
On one occasion, Sparks allegedly told Benjamin that he brought “disrepute to Epiphany” for mingling with African-Americans at a public event.
On another, Sparks tried to explain the school’s lack of diversity by claiming that “black students are too poor and can’t do the academic work,” according to the documents.
According to TMZ, “Sparks ignored bullying claims by gay students and even lent support to a student group that wanted to enact a ‘homo-caust.'” According to an AP story, Benjamin’s own beliefs were also under attack.
Benjamin said Sparks and conservative Christian members on the school’s board questioned his Jewish background and Quaker beliefs. During one meeting, “Sparks insisted that Mr. Benjamin stop talking about Islam, Judaism, or any other non-Christian religion” at school functions, the lawsuit said. “That’s not what our parents like to hear,” the lawsuit quoted Sparks as saying.
The Epiphany School describes itself as “anchored in the Judeo-Christian commandment to Love God and Your Neighbor as Yourself,” and maintaining the prinicples of “bold Scholarship,” “open-hearted Faith,” and being a “community of Global Citizens and Neighbors.”
TMZ posted this update, after hearing from Sparks’ representatives:
Scott Schwimer, Sparks’ entertainment lawyer, tells TMZ, “As a gay, Jewish man who has represented Nick for almost 20 years I find these allegations completely ludicrous and offensive.” Sparks’ lawyer for this case, Theresa Sprain, adds, “We deny these allegations.”
The latest Hollywood adaptation of a Sparks novel, “The Best of Me,” opens on October 17.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.