Religious organization's leader accused in lawsuit of forcing sex on Mass. Woman

Boston Herald, April 10, 2000

SIDNEY, Ohio - Two former members from Massachusetts are suing the religious organization The Way International, accusing its president of forcing one of them into a sexual relationship, The Daily Standard of Celina reported.

Frances and Paul Allen of Dartmouth, Mass., also claim The Way conducts its business in a manner that encourages members to become economically and psychologically dependent on the organization and its leadership. The Way is based in New Knoxville, 52 miles north of Dayton.

The Rev. L. Craig Martindale, president of The Way's board of trustees, issued a written statement Friday admitting to having had a ``consensual'' affair with Frances Allen, but disputing the illegal actions she alleges in the lawsuit.

The Allens filed the lawsuit last week in Shelby County Common Pleas Court seeking a $2 million judgment against The Way for breach of contract. Also named as defendants are several Way officials and 50 unidentified people connected with the organization.

Beginning in 1996 and continuing through March 1999, the Allens say Martindale and another Way official began a campaign to coerce Frances Allen into engaging in sexual activity with Martindale.

The Way's board of trustees said it has hired a Cleveland law firm to investigate the allegations. The board also said The Way does not function in the way the Allens allege in their lawsuit.

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