CINCINNATI, Aug. 28 -- The Procter & Gamble Co. on Monday sued Randy Haugen, an executive for the Amway Distributors Association, accusing him of spreading 'false and malicious statements' linking the consumer products giant to satanism. In a statement Michigan-based Amway Corp. called the statement 'false and malicious' and pledged to cooperate with rival P&G and 'enlist the support of independent Amway distributors' like Haugen 'to stop this rumor.' The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Salt Lake City against Haugen, described by P&G officials as a high ranking 'diamond level' distributor of Amway products. The lawsuit said the distributors association 'establishes ethical policies, goals and objectives of Amway distributors.' The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages, with the exact amount to be determined by the court, P&G officials told UPI. The complaint alleges Haugen used Amway's electronic voice mail system, Amvox, to spread the satanism rumor to other Amway distributors. 'We have been fighting this outrageous rumor for over 15 years,' said James Johnson, P&G senior vice president and general counsel. 'Throughout that time, people associated with Amway have played a role. 'Over the years we have had numerous incidents, beyond this lawsuit, linking the spread of the rumor to Amway distributors. Additionally, nearly half of the lawsuits we have filed in connection with this rumor have involved Amway distributors.' But in a statement from its Ada, Mich., headquarters, Amway said it has tried to stop the rumors in the past. 'Amway Corp. does not condone the spreading of false and malicious rumors against Procter & Gamble or any other company,' the statement read.
'Despite Amway Corp.'s past efforts to help stop this rumor, unfortunately it appears to have resurfaced.' 'Amway will continue to cooperate with Procter & Gamble and will continue to enlist the support of independent Amway distributors to stop this rumor.' P&G's Johnson said Amway competes directly with his company in a number of cleaning and other household product lines. He said some Amway distributors have used the satanism rumor to encourage a consumer boycott of P&G products. Johnson said P&G also was considering other possible legal actions involving Amway distributors. The false stories typically claim that P&G's president discussed satanism on the Phil Donahue Show, a nationally televised talk show, and that the company's 'moon and stars' trademark is a satanic symbol, Johnson said. But company officials said P&G's president has never discussed satanism on any nationally televised talk show, nor has any other P&G executive. The moon and stars trademark dates to the mid-1800s, when the man in the moon was simply a popular design. The 13 stars in the design honor the original 13 colonies. P&G said it has answered nearly 200,000 calls and letters about the satanism rumors during the past 15 years. Calls and letters peaked in 1982, 1985, 1990, and now again in 1995. In the United States this year, consumer contacts to the company went from 22 a day in the beginning of March to nearly 200 a day in May when the false stories began spreading.