Procter & Gamble Wins Satanic Civil Suit

Scales of justice, Amway and Procter & Gamble logos, Pentagram AP / CBS

Procter & Gamble Co. has won a jury award of $19.25 million in a civil lawsuit filed against four former Amway distributors accused of spreading false rumors linking the company to Satanism to advance their own business.

The U.S. District Court jury in Salt Lake City on Friday found in favor of the Cincinnati-based consumer products company in a lawsuit filed by P&G in 1995. It was one of several the company brought over rumors alleging a link with the company's logo and Satanism.

Rumors had begun circulating as early as 1981 that the company's logo — a bearded, crescent man-in-moon looking over a field of 13 stars — was a symbol of Satanism.

The company alleged that Amway Corp. distributors revived those rumors in 1995, using a voice mail system to tell thousands of customers that part of Procter & Gamble profits went to satanic cults.

The company's claim was based on the Lanham Act, which prohibits unfair competition and false advertising.

"This is about protecting our reputation," Jim Johnson, P&G's chief legal officer, said in a statement Monday. "We will take appropriate legal measures when competitors unfairly undermine the reputation of our brands or our company."

The former Amway distributors thought they'd be exonerated and were shocked by the jury's verdict late Friday, said Randy L. Haugen, one of the defendants.

"It's hard to imagine they'd pursue it this long, especially after all the retractions we put out," said Haugen, a 53-year-old Ogden, Utah, businessman who maintained P&G was never able to show how it was harmed by the rumors. "We are stunned. All of us."

Haugen said he forwarded another person's account of the Satanic rumor to other Amway salesmen on a common phone-message system, then circulated the retraction. The original message, however, found its way to Procter & Gamble.
  • Sean Alfano

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