While the book “The God Delusion” that was released in 2006 brought Richard Dawkins into the spotlight for all the right reasons, the best-selling author is in the news this time claiming that an employee of his, John Timonen, embezzled $ 375,000 from the online store that he was in charge of for Dawkins’ charity, also known as the Foundation for Reason and Science.

According to the Superior Court complaint, Josh Timonen was hired by Richard Dawkins to run his website as well as produce videos for him for a “generous” payment of $ 278,750 in three and a half years, an amount that is described by Dawkins as an above-market rate considering his age (24 years) and the fact that Josh was working for a charitable organization.

Since legal requirements did not allow the British wing of the organization to run its own store, Dawkins asked Timonen to run it through his company, Upper Branch Productions, which after three years, according to Timonen, made only $ 30,000 in all. The items that were sold at the online store were a series of education DVDs from a lecture series in given in 1991 apart from merchandise such as hats, mugs and T-shirts.

When Dawkins discovered the embezzlement (while also claiming that Timonen had kept 92 per cent of the profits) this year, Timonen claimed that he owned intellectual rights to the online store, the Foundation logo and the DVDs that he was selling through the store, to which Dawkins countered by saying that whatever Timonen created for the store was “a work for hire that was commissioned and paid for by plaintiffs”, and that he (Dawkins) owns the store in its entirety.

And while Dawkins claims $ 950,000 in punitive damages from Timonen (Norton and Upper Branch Productions), what remains to be seen is if “the world’s best known and most respected atheist” is able to recover the profits of his store or not.