Richard Dawkins sues forum moderator for embezzlement

Richard Dawkins is suing his former forum moderator, who was also commissioned to run the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s online store, for embezzling hundreds of thousands of pounds. It makes Josh Timonen insisting on wiping the server for the old forum look rather suspicious..

GLENDALE, Calif. (CN) – Evolutionary biologist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins claims an employee of his Foundation for Reason and Science embezzled $375,000 from the online store he ran for Dawkins’ charity, by claiming it made only $30,000 in 3 years.

Dawkins says he founded the charity to “support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.”

Dawkins hired Josh Timonen in 2006 to run his website and produce videos for him, according to the Superior Court complaint. Timonen began working for the Foundation in 2007.

According to Timonen’s own records, Dawkins and the Foundation paid Timonen a total of $278,750 in 3½ years – an amount Dawkins calls “exceedingly generous and well above-market for someone of Timonen’s age and experience, particularly for someone providing the bulk of his efforts to a charitable organization.”

…Because legal requirements imposed by the British Charities Commission prohibited the British wing of the foundation from running its own store, Dawkins says he asked Timonen to run the store through his company, Upper Branch Productions.

Timonen took the reins, Dawkins says, and ran the online store for 3 years, during which he claimed the store cleared only $30,000 and “was just squeaking by.” But the scientist says Timonen actually pocketed $375,000.

Update: PZ Myers of Pharyngula has provided a link to the full formal complaint.

Posted in people. Tags: . 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Richard Dawkins sues forum moderator for embezzlement”

  1. Glendon Mellow Says:


    What an awful betrayal to the Foundation and Richard Dawkins himself.

  2. Richard Dawkins Victim of Embezzlement? | The Sensuous Curmudgeon Says:

    […] This is the story to which she linked: Richard Dawkins sues forum moderator for embezzlement. […]

  3. HughMcB Says:

    Josh has joined the forum, which was set up in response to the demise of the old RDF forum. A thread about this topic in which Josh is currently active can be found here;

  4. Dr. Mabuse Says:

    Since very few people are in possession of all the facts of this case, it would be unwise for Skeptics to decide if the allegations are true or not; we have a duty to withhold judgement until experts (the court and possibly jury) have made their decision.

    • Milotoast Says:

      Well many have asked him to either admit or deny the allegations, seeing as he’s skirting the issue and throwing up red herrings, it gives the impression of guilt.

  5. Steplor Says:

    Mr. Timonen responds here, although he really doesn’t take on the actual accusation in any definitive manner. The comments over there are not going in his favor.

    He’s also on Twitter, for whatever that’s worth. There are journalists and “journalists” in pursuit…

  6. Top Posts — Says:

    […] Richard Dawkins sues forum moderator for embezzlement Richard Dawkins is suing his former forum moderator, who was also commissioned to run the Richard Dawkins […] […]

  7. Steplor Says:

    FYI, comments at Mr. Timoren’s site were pulled sometime yesterday evening (U.S. time). He had also signed up at RatSkep (and some other sites), and posted 6 or 7 times before turning in for the evening. Other posters there speculate that his lawyers will have a cow over that, if word gets back to them, and will probably strongly encourage him to cease and desist from further public comments.

    And PZM has posted a link (.pdf) to the actual 14-pg. legal filing by Dawkin’s lawyer.

  8. Steplor Says:

    Minor correction to previous – the .pdf legal document is 18 pages (not 14pg).

  9. Ripnoilegog Says:

    Hi! Sorry, i newbie and don’t know how i can answer to PM message, help me plz!

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