A North Carolina man is suing his local Quaker church for reportedly convincing his wife to divorce him after 30 years of marriage, as well as helping her moving out of their home, thus resulting in his financial instability.
The plaintiff, Warren Pegram of Alamance County, also claims that the congregation at Cane Creek Meeting of the Society of Friends, located in Snow Camp, N.C., knowingly allowed its pastor, Mark Tope, to spend unnecessary time alone with his wife, Shyrlynn Pate Pegram.
"I think the church had a great deal to do with [the divorce]," Pegram, who is suing based on negligence and personal injury, told Fox 8 WGHP.
Members of the congregation reportedly helped Pegram's wife move out of the home they shared together in February 2012. "I won't say they're 100 percent responsible but they certainly made it happen. I don't think she could've moved out if the church didn't help her. They provided all the people to move the stuff," Pegram, 74, added to the local news station.
Pegram, who initially filed the suit in November 2012, argues that the church's pastor, Tope, forged a personal relationship with his wife, including the pastor attending family vacations at the wife's request, and spending time with the wife when Pegram was not present.
"[The congregation] conspired with my wife to abandon me because they wanted to punish me […] because I did not want to associate with the relationship with the pastor," Pegram told Fox 8 WGHP.
As the lawsuit states, the "defendant's pastor made multiple visits to Plaintiff and his wife's residence to play Wii games with them not at the invitation of the Plaintiff."
Pegram is seeking $180,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
The plaintiff argues that his wife handled about sixty percent of all household bills, and her absence has resulted in financial instability for the74-year-old divorcee.
As North Carolina newspaper The Times News reports, the Cane Creek Meeting of the Society of Friends is denying the allegations and requesting the lawsuit be thrown out, arguing it violates the restrictions accompanying alienation of affection lawsuits, which in the state of North Carolina can only be brought against an individual, not a group.
Pegram, however, is arguing that the lawsuit is about financial assault and personal injury, as he believes the church greatly influenced his wife's choice to leave her husband, subsequently causing him to be financially unstable.
The congregation, which is represented by attorney Keith Whited, will have its motion for case dismissal heard on Feb. 4. Should the lawsuit not be dismissed, the lawsuit trial will commence Feb. 25.