Trial starting in defamation lawsuit against author Sparks

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2016, file photo, novelist Nicholas Sparks attends a special screening in Los Angeles. The trial is getting underway, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in a lawsuit that accuses Sparks of defaming the former headmaster of a private Christian school he founded in North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The trial is getting underway in a lawsuit that accuses novelist Nicholas Sparks of defaming the former headmaster of a private Christian school he founded in North Carolina.

Saul Hillel Benjamin accuses Sparks of telling Epiphany School parents, a job recruiter and others that Benjamin suffered from mental illness.

The jury in the trial beginning Wednesday in Raleigh will decide whether the private K-12 school in Spark's hometown of New Bern, the author and the foundation Sparks created to support the school should pay damages.

Benjamin's lawsuit alleges that the author of "Message in a Bottle" and "The Notebook" defamed him and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Benjamin was in the headmaster's position for less than five months and says he was forced out.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from this section

GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (AP) — Mark Pavelich, a forward on the 1980 U.S. "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey team who went on to play for the New York Rangers and two other NHL teams has been charged with assault for allegedly beating a neighbor with a metal pole and breaking several of the man's bones.

Automakers have introduced a flurry of new automotive safety and convenience technology features the past few years. Close-to-new vehicles with these features are now increasingly showing up on dealership lots as used vehicles. The upshot: You don't have to buy a new car to get modern conven…