This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The author of a Christian novel is accusing another Utah writer of plagiarism for allegedly copying the plot and details from her work, but then adding graphic sex scenes to create a new book under a different title.
Prolific novelist Rachel Ann Nunes of Orem has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that Tiffanie Rushton of Layton violated the copyright of Nunes' 1998 book "A Bid for Love," which was originally titled "Love to the Highest Bidder."
Rushton allegedly used passages and plot from the novel to create a book called "The Auction Deal" under the pen name of Sam Taylor Mullens.
The back cover of Nunes' book describes it as the story of a budding romance between two art buyers both trying to get the same Indian Buddha statue. "The Auction Deal" has the same type of plot, according to goodreads.com, but adds the warning, "Contains adult sexual content and language."
"In converting Ms. Nunes' work into 'The Auction Deal,' " the lawsuit says, "defendant added several graphic sex scenes and other adult content to what was originally a Christian novel."
Rushton did not respond to an email seeking comment on the allegations.
The suit says Rushton told Nunes she would halt sales of the book after Nunes sent her a query about possible plagiarism. By that time, Ruston already had sold a number of them, the complaint says.
In an email to a person who had received an advance copy of her book, Rushton claimed that she had been given permission by the author years ago to use copyrighted text but she refused to provide her true identity "because she cannot reveal to her extended family members that she writes about sex," according to the lawsuit.
The suit also claims Nunes was defamed by Rushton through a "vicious campaign to discredit Ms. Nunes and disparage her work."
Those actions included creation of accounts under various names through online social media and book sites where she made statements such as, "I have lost a lot of respect for RachelNunes as an author and a person. She harassing [sic] readers/reviewers online."
The lawsuit asks for damages of $150,000 for each copyright infringement and to triple those awards because the case is "exceptional."
It also seeks, among various actions, attorney fees, that Rushton be prohibited from posting comments under assumed names and for a retraction of all postings related to Nunes.