Suit And Countersuit

Bass and Bankov’s suit allows for the naming of as many as ten other defendants who participated in some way in the alleged defamations. Two have been identified so far: Jim Dimov, a former UE employee and Bankov relative who runs a small Bible-smuggling organization in Hollywood, and JTTCW founder Richard Wurmbrand, 70. They were named in November 1977, and June 1978, respectively, after appearing for pre-trial testimony.

Dimov, who attended the same church in Burgas, Bulgaria, as the Bankov family, testified that Bankov had been a deacon but never a pastor. He also claimed that Bankov, during a period of disillusionment with UE in 1970, referred repeatedly to Bass as a “gangster.”

Richard Wurmbrand’s testimony was not heard. When he attempted to give a preliminary statement, Bass-Bankov lawyer David Nissen objected. A scuffle and shouting match ensued, and Wurmbrand walked out.

A month before he was named a defendant, the elder Wurmbrand resigned from the JTTCW board. Christians should not take part in lawsuits against each other, he argued, and JTTCW therefore should not defend itself against Bass and Bankov. “It was my opinion to give [the money] to them plus a flower to show that we love them in spite of their sins,” explained the JTTCW founder in a letter to his constituents last fall. He indicated that although he will not defend himself personally against the lawsuit he now believes JTTCW as an organization must fight legally to protect donors’ funds.

Following much debate among board members, Michael Wurmbrand and JTTCW in November 1977 filed a cross complaint against Bass and virtually the entire UE camp. It denies the Bass-Bankov charges, and also alleges defamation and asks for $4 million in damages. ...

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