Nicholas Sparks on Thursday responded to The Daily Beast’s report exposing emails written by the bestselling author showing his efforts to ban an LGBT club at his christian academy Epiphany in North Carolina.
In a statement, Sparks cited how courts have dismissed some discrimination claims against him, but did not address the emails directly. “Epiphany is and remains a place where students and faculty of any race, belief, religion, background, or orientation should feel welcome,” he wrote. “My commitment to these values, as well as Epiphany's commitment to these values, have been and remain constant.”
The school and Sparks have been in an ongoing legal battle with the school’s former headmaster and CEO, Saul Benjamin, over his claims that they fostered harassment, racism, and homophobia. “Sparks and members of the Board unapologetically marginalized, bullied, and harassed members of the School community whose religious views and/or identities did not conform to their religiously driven, bigoted preconceptions,“ Benjamin’s attorneys wrote in a complaint.
Sparks has denied the allegations, but new emails obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast showed that he worked to stop Benjamin’s attempts to make the school inclusive to all faiths, races, and sexualities. In one such email, Sparks chastised him for “what some perceive as an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted.”