Putnam County News owner sues Church of the Nazarene for damages

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 11, 2018

SUMMERSVILLE — A lawsuit has been filed against both the north and south districts of the Church of the Nazarene, as well as the Nazarene Camp in Summersville alleging the respondents defamed him and caused him distress.

The lawsuit was filed Oct.1 in Nicholas Circuit Court by Mark Halburn, a Dunbar resident who runs the website PutnamCountyNews.com, against Dolores Martin Dingess, John Parsons, Dr. Mervin Smith, Arik Paraschos, Family Court Judge Patricia Keller, 100 unknown, unnamed individuals, along with the Nazarene defendants.

Halburn claims in May and June 2017, the respondents committed conspiracy, defamation of character, intentional affliction of emotional distress, deception of the court, lies and intentionally kept him from his son when they filed a false and deceptive domestic violence protection order and then renewed the order.

Halburn contacted law enforcement on June 21, 2017, regarding a lawful welfare check and arranged to meet with two Nicholas County sheriff’s deputies at the Nazarene Camp for the welfare check, according to his suit.

Nazarene Camp   Google Maps

The plaintiff arrived for the welfare check, spoke with the officers and then voluntarily left. However, he says as he was leaving, a camp official took photos of him and his rental vehicle and acted “erratically and in an intimidating manner,” which he claims further verified his concerns about his son being at the camp.

“When Mark Halburn arrived home, hours later, he was served with a temporary DVP, despite doing nothing illegal or unethical with the welfare check,” the complaint states. “This temporary DVP was secured by Dolores Martin, Arik Paraschos and Camp Manager John Parsons conspiring against Mark Halburn in retaliation for his legal reporting about the camp’s 15 Nicholas County Health Department violations and his lawful request of a welfare check.”

Halburn claims Keller repeatedly lied and falsely accused him of going into a dorm to take photos. He claims she also accused him of having the health department conduct an inspection.

”Mark Halburn has no authority to order an inspection and did not order any inspection,” the complaint states. 

Prior to the events in the complaint, the county’s health department inspected the camp in May and found 15 violations, according to the complaint.

Halburn claims Keller lied about the situation and showed bias in her final order against him.

“Furthermore, Parsons and Paraschos lied in Family Court hearings about Mark Halburn entering a girl's dormitory to take photos and about the addition of a security system specifically to monitor Mark Halburn’s activities,” the complaint states.

Halburn claims he made an appointment with Nicholas County Health Department Administrator Rodney Boyce to meet at the camp on June 2, 2017, and while Boyce was inside the dorms, Halburn remained outside.

Smith failed to take corrective action, according to the complaint, and Halburn claims he was rude when he requested action be taken regarding the loss of his parenting time with his son.

Halburn is seeking for the court to reverse and expunge the DVP against him, as well as time with his son. He is also seeking for the respondents to pay the costs for Mark Halburn and his son to visit family in Southern California to visit tourist attractions and he missed out on due to their conduct.

Halburn is also seeking Keller’s removal from the bench and ownership of the Nazarene Camp and full custody of his son, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Halburn is representing himself.

“Parenting time between a father and son is priceless,” the complaint states.

In his affidavit, Boyce stated that he met Halburn at the camp for a media-related interview and then Boyce and staff entered the dormitory to review violations that had been found during the routine inspection.

"Mr. Halburn did not enter the building when we entered as directed by camp staff," Boyce wrote. "Upon exit, I observed Mr. Halburn walking away from the building, but I did not observe him in the building. I did not observe Mr. Halburn taking photographs of the building."

Boyce stated in the affidavit that he was not in Halburn's company for the 10-minute inspection period and he could not attest to Halburn's whereabouts or actions at that time.

After the DVP was filed against Halburn, Halburn filed a notice of appeal of the order. He then filed a motion to immediately quash, reverse and expunge the DVP with the West Virginia Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's decision in concluding that the family court's order was not appealable.

Requests were made to the South and North districts of the Church of the Nazarene for comment.

Nicholas Circuit Court case number: 18-C-118

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