ORU's leader speaks on suit
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Thursday, October 04, 2007
10/12/07 at 3:53 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.
He says three former
professors suing him
and the school are
Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts spoke out
Wednesday against three former
professors who filed a lawsuit
against him and the school, saying
the trio was after money but he was
"not intimidated by blackmail and
John Swails, Tim Brooker and
Paulita Brooker filed a lawsuit
against ORU on Tuesday, saying
they had been wrongfully terminated or wrongfully caused to resign,
and claiming the Roberts family
had spent university money for personal uses.
Roberts spoke to students at a
regular chapel service on campus,
saying God said to tell them, "We
live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit
against another person,
whether they have a legitimate case or not," according
to an ORU transcript of the
Roberts said the professors'
attorney, Gary L. Richardson,
had lost every lawsuit he had
filed against ORU.
Richardson said he had
been involved in only one lawsuit involving ORU, but the
suit never resulted in a trial.
"I hate to call him a liar, but
he's a liar," the attorney said.
The lawsuit filed by the former professors summarizes a
report allegedly written by
Roberts' sister-in-law Stephanie Cantese, an Oral Roberts
Ministries employee, that
claims university money has
paid for: a stable of horses for
the Roberts children, Roberts
family members' $800-a-month cell phone bills, dorm
room renovations for the Roberts' daughters, and much
Roberts told students during the chapel service: "Some
may think that I might ought
to hang my head in shame, but
I won't do that. I am confident
that when the real truth is
known, there will be no more
Roberts said he is praying
"with all of my heart" "for
those who persecute us and
despitefully use us."
Student Cornell Cross II
said, "I think we've all known
that this stuff has been going
on for a while."
After learning of the lawsuit,
Cross said, students took varying stances, from avoiding involvement to supporting the
Roberts family to supporting
the stance against administrators. He thinks because students pay nearly $18,000 in tuition and fees, they should
know their money is well-spent.
Four people protested outside the ORU campus
Wednesday evening, holding
signs reading "Mabee You
Should Pay Taxes" and "Department of Political Intervention" as ORU security guards
"Not only does ORU spend
money for personal use; they
spend it on political campaigns," said Geordan Taylor,
who said he is a former student of Tim Brooker's at ORU.
Taylor said the group plans
to protest for a week and hopes to draw 20 to 30 people
by the end.
The small group of protesters drew a counterprotester,
Ryon Sullivent, an ORU student who got into a tug-of-war
with Trujillo over one of the
signs, both he and Trujillo acknowledged.
Sullivent held a sign reading
"Don't Listen to These
Family income: Richard and
Lindsay Roberts were paid
more than $673,000 in salary
and expenses combined by
three ORU-related entities
during the 2006 tax year, federal records show. Their income came from ORU, the
Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Traco Advertising, a for-profit subsidiary of
the evangelistic association.
The Internal Revenue Service records show the association spent $145,000 for aircraft
maintenance, $79,000 in miscellaneous expenses, $394,000
for consultants and $8,500 for
food and catering that year.
The association produces
Richard Roberts' weekly TV
shows, books, mailings and
other materials for the ministry.
ORU reported more than
$75 million in revenue during
the 2005 tax year, records
show. The evangelistic association reported revenues in
2006 of $12.7 million.
Sexual harassment claim: In
another lawsuit-related development Wednesday, ORU
Vice Provost Jeff Ogle released a written statement refuting a claim of the lawsuit
that said he sexually harassed
a professor, who is not named.
". . . I am not aware of any
conduct or communication that I have engaged in that
could be construed as sexual
harassment," his statement
said. "Throughout my 22
years at Oral Roberts University, I have conducted my personal and professional life by
principles of biblical integrity.
The damage that has been
done to me, my family and my
friends is irreparable. I look
forward to having my reputation restored through the legal process."
The lawsuit claims that former professor Paulita Brooker
was fired partly because fellow
plaintiff Swails reported to administrators that Ogle had
sexually harassed a professor.
World staff writers Ziva Branstetter and
Clifton Adcock and The Associated
Press contributed to this story.
April Marciszewski 581-8475
says he’s praying
for his accusers.