A lawsuit filed in California Superior Court against televangelism powerhouse TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) threatens to blow the lid off alleged misconduct and criminal activity at the very highest levels of the organization. TBN, which advertises itself as the “World’s Largest Christian Network,” is home to such luminaries as Rod Parsley, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, James Robison and the larger-than-life founders of the network – Paul and Jan Crouch, and their son Matt – who are a constant presence in front of the camera.
The Crouches have invited criticism and scorn in the past with their lavish lifestyle and flamboyant appearance, but the new lawsuit paints a portrait of a thoroughly corrupt organization. The suit centers on Paul Crouch’s granddaughter Brittany Koper, a former executive at TBN who was fired after she blew the whistle on alleged fraudulent and criminal activities. She claims that she subsequently faced massive retaliation, including threats of “physical and lethal violence.”
The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan," and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director.
The suit also alleges that TBN bought residences across the country for its directors under the pretext that they were "guest homes" or "church parsonages." The properties include mansions used by the Crouch family in Newport Beach; side-by-side mansions in Windermere, Fla.; and homes in Nashville; Miami; and Irving, Texas, according to the suit.
While the $100k dog motor home is a pretty irresistible story (Seamus Romney
must be so jealous!), the Times
glossed over other portions of the suit that sound more like The Sopranos than Elmer Gantry. For instance, a section entitled “Multiple cover-ups of sexual and criminal scandals” accuses TBN, among other things, of covering up a “bloody sexual assault,” infidelities by Paul and Jan Crouch, and repeated incidents in which Matt Crouch exposed his genitals to cleaning staff.
I've included that section below, which mentions a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford. As previously reported
, Ford, a TBN employee, was paid $425,000 to not discuss his alleged sexual encounters with Paul Crouch.
When Koper refused to play along, she wasn’t just sidelined within TBN. She allegedly faced threats of “physical and lethal violence” by Matt Crouch, and was told by Paul Crouch that Jan and Matt “want your heads” – referring to Koper and her husband, also a former TBN executive:
TBN issued a press release
this morning in response to recent media coverage. Rather than address the substance of the suit, TBN’s lawyer and attorney Colby May portrayed the Kopers as disgruntled former employees who stole from the network to enrich themselves:
"The soundness and veracity of these stories are completely undermined when you realize that they depend almost exclusively upon accusations from individuals who admitted they had embezzled and misappropriated over $1 million from the network, and its companion ministry, International Christian Broadcasting," May explained. […]
"What the bulk of media stories don't explain is that these individuals used lawsuits to contrive absurd allegations that trusted TBN officials had illegally funneled millions of dollars for their own use," said May. "Add to that the fabrications that Dr. and Mrs. Crouch were using ministry funds to buy jewelry, jets, mansions, and mobile homes for dogs, and you have all the ammunition for a stereotypical attack against an esteemed media ministry."
We’ll be eagerly watching this case as it plays out. Koper has made explosive accusations against TBN and the Crouches, and the Kopers, as longtime insiders at TBN, are uniquely positioned to marshal evidence to back up their claims.
to read the entire complaint against TBN.