February 2, 2008
CleanFlicks Fights Back
Man arrested for sex with a 14-year-old girl claimed ties to DVD rental company, but CleanFlicks denies any connection.
CleanFlicks, once popular with Christians and families for its video "sanitizing" service, is working overtime to distance itself from a sex scandal involving a Utah man who apparently claimed he once worked with the company.
On Friday, CleanFlicks filed a federal lawsuit again Daniel Dean Thompson, who was recently arrested for allegedly paying a 14-year-old girl for sex. According to a press release, CleanFlicks is seeking damages for "harming the firm by illegally claiming a business relationship with the firm and infringing its trade name and trademarks."
According to CleanFlicks, Thompson "was not a founder of CleanFlicks, LLC or CleanFlicks Media, Inc., nor was he ever a partner, officer, affiliate, dealer, franchisee, collaborator, consultant or representative of any CleanFlicks entity in any capacity."
Several reports of Thompson's Jan. 24 arrest - on two charges of forcible sexual abuse and two charges of forcible sexual activity with a 14-year-old - had referred to him as a "co-founder" of CleanFlicks. Other reports said Thompson had owned and/or operated one or more CleanFlicks dealerships - which offered edited DVDs to customers - in Utah.
But CleanFlicks says none of it is true. Its Friday press release says the business "has uncovered data it believes proves that Thompson has knowingly lied about his relationship with CleanFlicks and that such activity has caused great harm to the company," and thus the lawsuit, which seeks over $1 million in damages.
"We want everyone to see that we stand for the antithesis of everything with which we have been erroneously linked in recent reports," said Ray Lines, whom CleanFlicks says is the true founder of their company.
Christianity Today asked CleanFlicks publicist David Politis how several reputable news outlets - including The Salt Lake Tribune, the Provo Daily Herald, and a local CBS News affiliate - could have mistakenly associated Thompson with CleanFlicks.
Politis said that CleanFlicks used to run a number of brick-and-mortar dealerships in Utah, but when they decided to become exclusively an online DVD rental business in 2002, they sold the stores to individuals. Thompson's father apparently bought three of the stores, and later hired his son, Daniel, to manage one of them. CleanFlicks later required all of the brick-and-mortar stores to cease using the CleanFlicks name.
Meanwhile, CleanFlicks had also learned that Daniel Thompson had served time in the Utah County Jail for various indictments on securities fraud, money laundering, and theft. (Documents from the Fourth District Court in Provo confirm this.) At that time, CleanFlicks told Thompson's father that they would no longer do business with his son.
CleanFlicks has made more details about the situation available at FreeCleanFlicks.com.
CleanFlicks was founded in 2000 by Ray and Sharon Lines as a business which edits movies to remove objectionable content. The company - and other "video sanitizing" businesses like it - gained popularity with Christians and families over the next few years. But in 2006, such businesses received a lethal blow when a federal judge ruled that sanitizing movies violates copyright laws. Rather than fight the case, CleanFlicks abided by the decision and quit the sanitizing business.
CleanFlicks is still in operation today, but now as an online-only video rental company that claims to be "the world's only DVD rental store exclusively offering family friendly movies."