Regis University, a Jesuit school in Denver, has sued a Mead woman, her daughter and three associates, alleging their Internet-based St. Regis University is a "diploma mill" damaging...

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SPOKANE — Regis University, a Jesuit school in Denver, has sued a Mead woman, her daughter and three associates, alleging their Internet-based St. Regis University is a “diploma mill” damaging the real school’s reputation.

Lawyers for Regis allege in U.S. District Court filings that St. Regis committed trademark infringement, unfair competition, unfair business practices and trademark dilution.

Regis University is a 16,000-student university operated by the Jesuit Order of Catholic priests.

The St. Regis “distance learning program” is operated by Dixie Randock; her daughter, Heidi K. Lorhan; and three associates.

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In a notice posted on its Web page Wednesday, St. Regis said it is chartered in Liberia and never operated within the United States. It also said it would voluntarily discontinue the use of its name.

The Republic of Liberia has said the Web school is fraudulently claiming to have government accreditation.

Six months ago, Indiana state education Commissioner Jeff Weber urged Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire to take legal action against St. Regis, which sells college degrees online.

Workers facing layoffs at an Indiana auto plant spent at least $42,000 in federal educational retraining money to buy worthless advanced degrees from St. Regis, Weber claimed.

Assistant Washington Attorney General Jack Zurlini said he could not say whether the state is investigating St. Regis University, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported yesterday.

Internet diploma mills often sell degrees for a few thousand dollars, sometimes giving credit for life experiences.

People throughout the United States, including teachers and government employees, have used the degrees to become eligible for jobs or promotions. Such degrees are illegal in some states, but not Washington.

Richard J. Hoyer of Rochester, N.Y., and Steven K. Randock and Kenneth Pearson of Spokane are also named as defendants in the Regis University suit.

Hoyer has been affiliated with “distance-learning programs” and was president of the International College of Homeland Security until New York state initiated action.