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. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Jury weighing ex-school head's lawsuit against writer Sparks

August 21, 2019 - 1:42 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal jury is deciding whether the former head of a private Christian school that novelist Nicholas Sparks founded in his North Carolina hometown was unjustly fired, then slandered when the author said the educator suffered from mental illness.

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday whether Saul Hillel Benjamin is due damages from Sparks, his foundation and Epiphany School of Global Studies. Sparks and the school are based in New Bern, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) east of Raleigh, where the federal trial is being held.

Sparks attorney Jay Silver said the writer testified for more than 8 hours over the past week and told the whole truth about what happened.

Benjamin's lawyer said he was pushed out because some parents were unhappy about his support of diversity and gay students.

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