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May 01, 2012

Mont. Court Rejects Fraud Claim Against 'Three Cups' Author

A federal judge in Montana threw out a civil suit Monday against author and philanthropist Greg Mortenson, rejecting claims that he fabricated elements of his best-selling memoirs Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools to raise money for his charity, according to the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon said the plaintiffs' contention that they were duped into buying Mr. Mortenson's books and deserved compensation were overly broad and speculative. The memoirs recount the founding of the author's charity, the Montana-based Central Asia Institute, which builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr. Mortenson has said some details in the books were rearranged for clarity but that they are overwhelmingly true. In an e-mail statement to the Associated Press, he said Monday's ruling "upholds and confirms my belief and faith that our American legal and judicial system is honorable and fair" and that the institute "is stronger than ever."

Mr. Mortensen stepped down as executive director of the institute in November and was ordered last month to repay the charity $1-million as part of a settlement with the Montana attorney general's office, which was investigating alleged financial mismanagement.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the Three Cups scandal settlement and its lessons for charity governance.