WinePress Publishing, a Christian self-publishing company, has closed its doors, according to an announcement yesterday on the company’s Web site. The house had been plagued in recent years with accusations of fraud, complaints from authors and former employees, and financial problems. WinePress itself had filed a number of lawsuits against its critics and unhappy authors.
Last May, WinePress staff member Malcolm Fraser was convicted on two counts of first-degree child rape and two counts of first-degree molestation of a child. Fraser was a staff member of WinePress Publishing and a pastor of Sound Doctrine Church in Enumclaw, Wash., which owns WinePress. Fraser avowed his innocence, as did WinePress executive publisher Timothy Williams, who retired as senior pastor from Sound Doctrine Church five years ago and stated that no church funds had been used in Fraser’s defense.
Athena Dean--who started WinePress with her ex-husband, Chuck Dean, in 1991—accused Williams of brainwashing and manipulating her into leaving the company. Dean was also a member of Williams’s church, and she says he convinced her she was not equipped to operate the press and it would have a negative effect on her spiritually. Williams bought WinePress in 2005 for $10; at that point it was doing $2 million worth of business a year, according to Dean.
In an accounting role at the press, Dean had discovered Timothy Williams was drawing a six-figure salary, as were both of his sons; his wife, Carla Williams, drew a salary as well. “When I found this out, I asked why employees, editors, and vendors had to wait to be paid, but he’s flying first class and not taking a pay cut,” said Dean who eventually left the company. Since then, some WinePress authors have complained of poor work, excessive fees, hostile letters from Fraser, and threats of lawsuits.
Before the company shuttered, Timothy Williams’s son, Josiah, had taken over its management. In an interview with PW in August 2013, Josiah Williams said, “The untrue and negative publicity currently connected with WinePress has made business challenging,” though he added the house was dealing well with the situation.
In the announcement on its Web site, WinePress attributed its demise to “lies and gossip” and directed its authors to Amazon’s CreateSpace to republish their books.