LIMA — Nearly a month after vowing to file a civil lawsuit against a Lima pastor in response to what was called an inflammatory video the minister posted on social media, local entrepreneur Ray Magnus on Thursday followed through with that threat.
Magnus showed up at the Allen County Clerk of Courts office Thursday afternoon armed with a suit naming as defendants LaMont Monford Sr., a minister in the Lima Area Black Ministerial Alliance, and Philippian Baptist Church, where Monford serves as pastor.
Claiming injury to his “business, credit and reputation” as the result of the video Monford posted on his Facebook account and the “great pain and mental anguish” he suffered as a result of that video, Magnus is seeking $50,000 in punitive and compensatory damages from Monford.
At the heart of the lingering dispute between the two men is a controversy that started late last year when Magnus alleged during a December meeting of Lima City Council that Councilman Jamie Dixon resided outside the ward he was elected to represent.
Magnus tailed Dixon for roughly three weeks following thinly-veiled comments made by the councilor that publicly denied an alleged offer by Magnus to financially back Dixon in a potential run for city council president.
In the video posted on his Facebook account, Monford stated his belief that Dixon was the target of a smear campaign on the part of Magnus because Dixon was unwilling to follow Magnus’ agenda.
Magnus addressed some of those allegations in his lawsuit, including the allegation raised by Monford in the video that “when (Magnus) served as councilman for his ward, he was not residing where he said he was. He waited until he got busted.”
Another accusation singled out in the suit is a statement by Monford on the video that said “if they … can’t buy you or bully you, they try to destroy you.” Language contained in the lawsuit specifically names Teresa Adams, Ray Magnus and Jerome O’Neal as the individuals to which Magnus believes Monford was referencing.
Speaking Thursday outside the clerk of courts office, Magnus said his decision to file the lawsuit came after Monford “said a lot of crap” and “made comments that were grossly false” on his Facebook page. “Pastor Monford should have checked with his attorney before he posted stuff on Facebook that was not true.”
The church was included as a defendant in the lawsuit, Magnus said, “because he used his church computer to post the video on Facebook, I believe.”
Lima Law Director Tony Geiger in early December filed a communication with city council stating that Dixon has properly established his residency within the 5th Ward as a matter of election law.
On Thursday, Magnus said he was unconcerned about Dixon’s residency.
“We all know where Mr. Dixon lives, and it’s not on Second Street. But I could care less where he lives,” the businessman said. “That’s neither here nor there.”
Magnus said the lawsuit is about seeking compensation for damage done to his reputation as well as seeking an apology from Monford. He would not say whether such an apology would halt the suit.
Monford could not be reached for comment on the filing of the lawsuit.