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Church files lawsuit against Nathalie resident over website

A former member of the Cody Church of God of Prophecy in Gretna has been ordered to pay attorney’s fees and court costs totaling $3,710.40 as the result of a civil suit brought against him in Halifax County Circuit Court by the church.

The Cody Church of God of Prophecy brought the suit against Nathalie resident Roy L. Rudder in February.

In its civil suit, the church contended that Rudder, since June 29, 2000, had maintained a website in the acronym of Cody Church of God of Prophecy of Gretna.

According to the suit, Rudder linked that site to a personal website and caused the church to be registered on Internet search engines with links to Rudder’s personal website.

The church contended for a period between the summer of 2006 through 2011, Rudder solicited funds purporting to be for the church’s building fund on the church Internet website to be paid to a PayPal account that could only be accessed by Rudder.

The suit also alleged Rudder had on the church Internet site solicited check contributions for the church to be mailed to him at his residence in Halifax County.

Those contributions were induced by the “false, fraudulent and malicious claim” that they would be used to pay for additions to the Cody Church of God of Prophecy of Gretna’s church facility, the suit reads.

The plaintiff asked the court to order temporary and permanent injunctive relief preventing Rudder or his agents from using the name or place of worship of the plaintiff without written permission by the church’s pastor and board of deacons.

It also asked the court to order Rudder not to maintain any Internet sites or links pertaining to the church and to cease soliciting or accepting any funds for or on behalf of the church and its officers and agents.

In the suit, the plaintiff asked the court to render judgment against the defendant of any funds collected by the defendants ostensibly for the plaintiff’s benefit, that it award the plaintiff its attorney’s fees, and that it award the plaintiff punitive damages in the amount of $50,000 for Rudder’s alleged acts.

On Aug. 29 the plaintiff and defendant came before the court to hear results of an “in camera” review of the defendants’ PayPal account records, according to the final order.

The court found no evidence from its review of those records the defendant received any funds through the website, and the court found the defendant comingled his business and personal affairs in one PayPal account.

“The court further finds that the Plaintiff had no choice but to bring this action to determine if the Defendant improperly collected or retained contributions intended for the Plaintiff and to protect its good name, and that is appropriate for the Court to grant the Plaintiff permanent injunctive relief to prevent Defendant’s use of the Plaintiff name,” the final order read.

The final order prohibits Rudder, directly on indirectly through other persons or entities, from using the name of The Cody Church of God of Prophecy, or any acronym or abbreviation of that church’s name that refers to it, in any communications, electronic or otherwise, “that involve or associate its name with any charitable solicitation or business endeavor or any activity that might be construed to imply they are acting for or on behalf of the said church.”

That includes, but is not limited to, the direct or indirect registration or maintenance of Internet addresses or websites which use the name of The Cody Church of God of Prophecy or acronyms, such as