P&G SUES OVER RUMOR

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Procter & Gamble Co. is suing a high-ranking Amway distributor and may name another 10 people with links to Amway Corp. as co-defendants in connection with the resurgence of a 15-year-old rumor that P&G supports satanism.

A member of the executive committee of the Amway Distributors Association Council spread the rumor to other independent distributors using Amway's voice-mail system, according to the suit filed Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

P&G is seeking a restraining order and unspecified monetary damages.

A P&G spokeswoman said Utah distributor Randy Haugen's voice-mail message went out in April or May of this year, around the time consumer calls to P&G regarding the rumor rose to 200 a day from the usual average of 22.

In a statement, P&G also cited "numerous incidents, beyond this lawsuit, linking the spread of the rumor to Amway distributors." The company has filed 14 similar lawsuits over the years, five against Amway distributors.

Some distributors of Amway products, which compete with P&G in several household product lines, have used the rumors to encourage a consumer boycott of P&G products, said James J. Johnson, senior VP-general counsel at P&G.

Amway said it doesn't condone the rumors, that it has tried to stop the practice in the past, and that it will again cooperate with P&G and enlist support of its distributors to combat the story. The company wouldn't comment on allegations in the lawsuit.

The rumors typically claim P&G's president advocated satanism on the "Donahue" talk show and that the company's moon-and-stars trademark is a satanic symbol.

During a rumor outbreak in the 1980s, the company discontinued use of the logo, which it said was based on a popular mid-1800s design.

P&G has sent direct mail to people who call the company and mass mailings to rumor hot spots to combat the problem, a spokeswoman said.

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