Local business owner of “Everything Must Go” and co-owner of Lotz International LLC filed an online harassment and defamation federal lawsuit in Asheville earlier this month. The business owners are seeking damages for online harassment and defamation by Nancy Burnette, Shana Muse, Melissa McCleave, Kari Braswell and “John Doe 1-5” a.k.a Citizens Against Corruption and Abuse (CACA) Facebook page and organization that they alleged has caused significant damage to their businesses.
The lawsuit listed Samuel Pires, a member of the much-publicized Spindale church, Word of Faith Fellowship, as one of the plaintiffs. The federal lawsuit alleges Pires’ membership in the church made his business a target by opponents of Word of Faith Fellowship (WoFF) and the victim of false information and libelous comments online.
The defendants claim their Facebook page is dedicated to exposing injustice and abuse committed by what it calls a cult. Defendent Melissa McCleave stated in the Gaston Gazette that she “doesn’t personally know anyone from Word of Faith Fellowship and only knows about them from what she has read online and from watching television programs.
‘Using Social Media to Target Businesses”
Butch Maltby, a marketing consultant for Everything Must Go, stated that the lawsuit is an example of how businesses need protection from online attacks.
Minc Law, the nation’s number one internet defamation law firm, is an Ohio law firm representing Lotz International. According to the complaint, Pires is seeking compensatory damages from Citizens Against Corruption and Abuse exceeding $75,000 as well as removal of all false and libelous statements from the internet.
The citizens of Rutherford County have requested, a live streamed, Facebook service for Sunday morning, preached by Jane Whaley to do dispel once and for all the rampant rumors circulating the church and COVID-19. This page has only ever promoted transparency and truth.Will you Jane, follow same?
The page displays videos of church leader, Jane Whaley and other members preaching about submitting to and obeying God, casting out demons and reprimanding church members for various sins. It also featured videos of former church members speaking out against the emotional and physical abuse they said they suffered at the hands of church members.
Attacks on WoFF members’ businesses
On April 12, 2020, Citizens Against Corruption and Abuse posted a list of businesses it said were owned by WoFF church members.
“This post in INFORMATIONAL and FACTUAL,” the post reads. “Unless you have proof, please do not speculate as this can negatively affect Innocent businesses. We will NOT deviate from the our extensive, verified information. Word of Faith Fellowship does NOT OWN THESE BUSINESSES, THE MEMBERS DO. If you have information contrary to this please inbox us!!”
A list of businesses in Cleveland and Rutherford counties was posted, including Quick Lots and Everything Must Go, in Shelby.
Maltby also stated that prior to the lawsuit being filed, cease and desist letters were sent to people who were posting what Maltby said was “terrible comments” online.
The defendants have not responded to the complaint as of this date.