U staff

Nicole Vulcan

A University staff member temporarily delayed handing over information regarding his Web site to a federal court, a site that the Amway Corp. has found offensive.
Ashley Wilkes, who works as a lab technician at the University, declined to submit his subpoenaed online documents in a case pitting Proctor and Gamble against the Amway Corp., choosing instead to submit a letter of objection.
Amway alleges that Proctor and Gamble, one of the corporation’s competitors, supported Wilkes in building his Web site in an effort to defame the Amway organization. Attorneys representing Amway declined to comment on the case.
Wilkes denies any involvement with Proctor and Gamble.
“I have no connection with Proctor and Gamble, so it makes their subpoena an unreasonable invasion of my privacy,” Wilkes said.
Amway also attempted to get the University to shut down Wilkes’ site, since he uses a University Web address. But according to Bill Donohue, University associate general counsel, the University doesn’t control the content of the sites and has no jurisdiction over Wilkes’ private activities.
The University has also been subpoenaed in the case. A federal judge ordered the University to submit documents pertaining to the establishment and maintenance of Wilkes’ site. But the University responded similarly, submitting a letter of objection to the subpoena.
On Jan. 27, a federal judge ordered Wilkes to allow all of his documents pertaining to Amway, including his anti-Amway Motivational Organization (AMO) Web site to be inspected. The organizations motivate and train Amway distributors.
Several other Web site managers who post anti-AMO literature have also been subpoenaed in the case.
According to Wilkes, the Web sites attempt to inform readers of the “cultish practices” the organizations use to make money. Legally separate from the Amway Corp., “the AMO’s livelihood really comes from selling motivation, not the business,” Wilkes said.
The organizations sell motivational tapes and host motivational functions and rallies. Amway gains nothing from the profits the organizations make.
Through the efforts of its members, Amway sells household products like cleaning supplies and pots and pans.
But according to Wilkes, product selling is not emphasized in the organization.
“Their primary goal is to get as many people recruited as possible,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes, a member of the Amway organization from 1990 to 1994, said he lost $15,000 during his time with World Wide Dream Builders, one of many AMOs.
“I have no motive to get Amway,” he said. “The primary purpose of my site is to help people.”
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bell will review Wilkes’ and the University’s letters of objection to decide whether the subpoenas will stand.