After being ordered to reimburse his non-profit organization, the Central Asia Institute, $1 million a few weeks back, author/mountaineer/philanthropist Greg Mortenson did get some good news yesterday. The judge overseeing a civil suit that was brought against Mortenson by readers of his books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, tossed out the case. The ruling will hopefully bring an end to the whole affair, which has dogged the author since a 60 Minutes report last year.
In dismissing this case, Judge Sam Haddon called the claims “flimsy and speculative.” The case was filed against Mortenson, Penguin Books and CAI by disgruntled readers who felt that the author had fabricated details of his story in order to make them sound more impressive than they really were. Many of those fabrications (or outright lies depending on who you ask) were revealed in an essay by John Krakauer entitled Three Cups of Deceit.
With this case finally put to bed, Mortenson should finally be able to talk more openly about his side of the story and hopefully get back to running CAI and building more schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the past year he has kept a low profile and has seldom spoke about the subject. While his actions and mismanagement of the non-profit have disillusioned many, he may now be able to at least attempt to repair his reputation and continue the good work he has done.
Considering that I have written regularly about Mortenson and the case against him, I thought it was also important to post this story, which does give him a measure of vindication. While I still think his “exaggerations” in his books were inexcusable, I do think he has done some very good things, and as I’ve said in the past, I hate to see his work overshadowed in this way, but then again he has brought most of this on himself.
The earlier court order that ruled he needed to reimburse CAI the $1 million also made provisions for handling management of the organization moving forward. Hopefully that new structure will keep operations on the up and up and provide a more stable environment all around.
I also hope that this is the end of all story.
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