Update: ORU faces lawsuit
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
10/12/07 at 3:51 PM
This story misspelled the name of Stephanie Cantees, the sister-in-law of Richard Roberts and an employee of Oral Roberts Ministries.
For more: Read the latest stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
Three professors said
they lost their jobs
because of a report
about the Richard
Three former Oral Roberts University professors sued the school
and four administrators in Tulsa
County District Court on Tuesday,
alleging wrongful termination and
wrongful causing of one professor's resignation.
The professors said they lost
their jobs because they turned over
to administrators a report that alleged the Richard Roberts family
extensively spent university money
for personal uses. Roberts is ORU's
The lawsuit includes a summary
of the report, minus the "more salacious" information, as former professor and plaintiff Tim Brooker
The report "poses a real grave
threat to the university," Brooker
said. ". . . I fear for ORU's survival,
and if they don't make some very
significant changes administratively, there won't be an ORU."
Brooker said leadership of ORU
has shifted from God to the Roberts family, and "if God once again
can regain control, I think many of
the problems will take care of
The university issued a written
statement on Tuesday that said: "It
is important for ORU students and
their families, faculty and staff,
alumni, partners, as well as the
general public to understand that
this lawsuit is largely premised upon a compilation of incomplete
statements, unsubstantiated rumors and innuendos. ORU will address these allegations through the
The university did not respond to specific questions about the
ORU senior Cornell Cross II
said Roberts called a campuswide emergency meeting
to pray "against the enemies"
on Monday night in anticipation of the lawsuit being filed.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit
are Brooker, who coordinated
ORU's government program;
his wife, Paulita Brooker, an
adjunct professor who was
first hired for the ORU School
of Lifelong Education; and
John Swails, professor and
chairman of the history, humanities and government department. They sued ORU,
Roberts, Provost Mark Lewandowski, Dean Wendy Shirk
and Vice Provost Jeff Ogle.
Swails and Paulita Brooker
were fired, and Swails said
Tim Brooker was forced out of
Tim Brooker said ORU's
501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit status could be at risk
because, he said, Roberts required him to make his students work for 2006 Tulsa
mayoral candidate Randi Miller's campaign, in violation of
laws that prohibit nonprofit
groups from getting involved
in partisan political campaigns.
A complaint was lodged
with the Internal Revenue Service, and Tim Brooker claims
he was told to take the blame
for the university helping a
While working on the Miller
campaign, a student was
asked to repair an ORU computer, Tim Brooker said. The
student backed up the computer's files and discovered
the report on the alleged misuse of ORU money. The student turned the report over to
the professors, who read it
and "said several times, 'We
hope it's not true,' " Swails
The lawsuit claims the report was developed by Roberts' sister-in-law, Stephanie
Cantese, who works for Oral
The summary of the report in the lawsuit alleges:
- One of Richard and Lindsay Roberts' children vandalized and removed athletic department equipment from
- University and ministries
employees regularly do the
homework of the Roberts'
- ORU paid $29,411 for
one Roberts daughter to vacation with friends in Florida and
the Bahamas and use the ORU
jet for transportation.
- Lindsay Roberts routinely uses ministries security personnel during personal vacations.
- Lindsay Roberts awarded 13 non-need-based scholarships to friends of her children, two of whom had test
scores below ORU's admission requirement; and more.
Tim Brooker said that days
after the professors gave the
report to administrators, Cantese called him and threatened that his wife would lose
her job and his son would not
graduate from ORU. Indeed, Paulita Brooker was fired,
along with Swails.
The lawsuit claims Paulita
Brooker was fired partly because Swails had reported that
Vice Provost Ogle sexually harassed another professor. The
professor, who worked in
Swails' and the Brookers' department, resigned. Swails
said ORU took no action regarding the report of sexual
With that professor and the
three plaintiffs gone from the
history, humanities and government department, student
Cross, a senior majoring in
government, said he is
looking for a new university.
"The government program
really is not credible anymore," he said.
The lawsuit requests for
each former professor $10,000
in actual damages, $10,000 in
punitive damages, attorneys
fees, court costs and any other
money the court may provide.
April Marciszewski 581-8475
required to work
in a political
Swails: He alleges
that ORU took no
the report of
John Swails (left), attorney Gary Richardson (center) and Tim Brooker answer questions
during a news conference Tuesday at Richardson’s law office, announcing a lawsuit against
Oral Roberts University.