(Reuters) - A Utah author has sued another writer for allegedly copying her Christian romance novel, adding "graphic sex scenes," and then selling the story, court records showed.
Established Christian novelist Rachel Ann Nunes said in a suit filed in a federal Utah court late last month that her book, "A Bid for Love," was plagiarized by Tiffanie Rushton's "eerily similar" story, "The Auction Deal", court records show.
Nunes' book, described as a love story about two art collectors who meet at an auction for an Indian Buddha statue, was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1998 under the title "Love to the Highest Bidder," according to the suit. It remains in print.
Nunes said in the complaint that she was shocked to learn about Rushton's story, copies of which were sold after it was published online earlier this year under Rushton's pen name of Sam Taylor Mullens, according to the suit.
"In converting Ms. Nunes’s work into "The Auction Deal," (Rushton) added several graphic sex scenes and other adult content to what was originally a Christian novel," the suit said.
No attorney was listed for Rushton in court records, and she could not be immediately reached for comment.
When Nunes contacted Rushton about the story, Rushton said the book was developed in a writing group and that she wouldn't pursue publication, according to court documents.
Rushton later emailed a reader of her book saying that her true name could not be revealed as the story's sex scenes could get her in trouble with her family and her Mormon Church congregation, the suit said.
Nunes alleged in the complaint that Rushton also made slanderous comments about her across several social media sites under various aliases to discredit her work.
Nunes is suing Rushton for plagiarism, defamation, and harassment among other charges, and is seeking at least $150,000 in damages.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Catherine Evans)