LDS Church sued by author

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    By ERIC D. SNIDER

    A Salt Lake City author has filed a lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming the church illegally reprinted portions of her 1972 book “A House of Many Rooms” without giving her credit, and without permission.

    Rodello H. Hunter, 77, said the church made arrangements with the book’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., to produce and perform a theater adaptation of the book at the church-owned Promised Valley Playhouse in 1974.

    The lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges Hunter’s second book, “A Daughter of Zion,” contained material that “caused consternation” among church leaders, resulting in the church’s removal of “Daughter” from church-owned bookstores and the removal of Hunter’s name from everything associated with the performances of “Many Rooms.”

    Hunter said “Daughter” contained material that was “a little critical of some of the policies and authorities” of the church. She described the book as “objective,” however, saying “it’s more pro-Mormon than anti-Mormon.”

    Hunter claims that after the controversy surrounding “Daughter,” the church made a “criminal copyright” of “Many Rooms,” reprinting 20,000 copies of an abridged version of it and allowing it to be performed throughout the world — all without crediting her.

    “They took my name off of it and put four other people’s name on it,” she said. “There’s not more than 150 words of their version that are paraphrased and not taken directly from mine.”

    Hunter, who is LDS but has not been active in the church since the incident, said the trauma from having her work performed without credit or compensation put her in the hospital.

    “It just destroyed me,” she said. “I could not believe the church would do a thing like that. They took my work and copyrighted it in their name, even though it was already copyrighted in mine.”

    She said she forgot about the incident until last year, when she learned that the play was still being performed. “They had been using it all this time,” she said.

    She said the lawsuit was not her first reaction. “We tried very hard to work with the church, and all we got was delays,” she said. “We had to file (the lawsuit) to get any action.”

    The suit does not name a specific dollar amount that Hunter is seeking. “We’re leaving that up to the court,” she said.

    Church spokesman Don LeFevre said that after preliminary meetings with Howard’s lawyer, the church’s legal counsel “is of the opinion that the claims are without merit.

    Hunter’s legal counsel was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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