Richard Roberts issues rebuttal to 35 allegations
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Projects Editor
Sunday, November 18, 2007
3/19/08 at 6:37 AM
Read the latest stories about the ORU
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Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts issued a point-by-point rebuttal
Friday to 35 allegations contained in a lawsuit alleging a variety of wrongdoing.
Roberts and his attorney, Frank Hagedorn, released the document to the Tulsa
World. It contains responses to allegations
contained in two versions of a document allegedly prepared by Stephanie Cantees, the sister of Roberts' wife, Lindsay. The versions were attached to a lawsuit filed by
three former professors
against Roberts, ORU and other defendants.
Roberts told the World on
Friday that he saw some of the
Cantees memo about three
years ago but other parts of it
were not written by her. He
said Cantees is a community
liaison for the university and
had collected rumors she
heard concerning ORU or the
Roberts family, regardless of
whether they were true.
Roberts has been on a leave
of absence as ORU president
since Oct. 17 while the
school's board and independent auditors investigate allegations made in a lawsuit that
he and his family misused
ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries money and resources.
Below are some of the allegations listed in the suit and
Richard and Lindsay Roberts'
response to them. Material in
quotes is taken directly from
Roberts' rebuttal document.
Allegation: Lindsay Roberts
sent text messages to underage males between 1 a.m. and
Response: "Richard and
Lindsay get calls and texts at
all hours due to a ministry
they had for kids with drug
and alcohol problems. . . . The
time of text messaging and
calls could easily occur between 1-3 a.m., as they are
overseas on a regular basis."
The Roberts' daughters also
occasionally use their parents'
phone and bills are paid personally.
Allegation: Richard Roberts
claimed: "I have the deck
stacked. I am elected to 3 year
terms and if a regent appears
to give me trouble I remove
Response: The Regents
Nominating Committee submits nominations and the
board votes on board members. All board members
serve three-year terms and
Richard Roberts does not have
authority to name or fire board
Allegation: Richard Roberts
has total control of a university-owned airplane and often
brings friends of his daughters, who take precedence
over university employees.
The plane was used to take
Roberts' daughter and her
friends on a senior trip.
Response: ORU does not
own an airplane. The ministry
leases a plane with eight seats plus one jump seat. "The plane
is used for trips to churches,
recruiting events, telethons,
conferences, seminars etc.
"The Roberts' daughter Olivia and many other students
have joined Richard Roberts
on trips as part of the ministry.
. . . Personal expenses were
charged to the Roberts."
Allegation: All housing
costs, including furnishings
and a $15,000 stove, are paid.
Response: "The home is
owned by ORU. The Roberts
family pays rent at fair market
value." The family has one
wide-screen television and a
commercial stove "similar to
many homes that frequently
entertain large groups of
Allegation: The home has
been remodeled 11 times in 14
years and has a 2,000-square-foot closet.
Response: The home was
built in 1986 and has required
several repairs due to mold
and mildew issues. "These
have not been remodeling projects."
"There is no 2000-square-foot office or closet in the Roberts' house. There is one 540-square-foot closet."
Allegation: "Mrs. Roberts
wardrobe paid for by television production. . . . Current
bills for clothing charged as
wardrobe by Mrs. Roberts in
excess of $51,205."
Response: "This is absolutely false. . . . Mrs. Roberts is required to document any TV
wardrobe through Audit and
Compliance Committee. Undocumented charges are
charged to the Roberts family."
Allegation: ORU employees
are called to the home to do
the Roberts daughters' homework.
Response: The family has
paid for tutors for one daughter, who is dyslexic. Assistance was also given to the
daughter when she was ill to
help her catch up on school
Allegation: Thirteen ORU
scholarships were given by
Lindsay Roberts to friends of
her children and two of the
students had 12s on the ACT.
Response: No students with
a 12 on the ACT have ever
been accepted at ORU. "The
Roberts have submitted recommendations for scholarship
applicants and will continue to
do so. However the ultimate
choice is left to the scholarship committee."
Lindsay Roberts also has a
ministry-sponsored scholarship program and recipients
are chosen by a committee.
Allegation: Tapes exist of
one Roberts daughter vandalizing the athletic department.
Richard Roberts refused to
Response: "This is a distortion of the truth. A nationally
touring band played at ORU
and wanted ORU T-shirts to wear on tour. The Roberts
gave them T-shirts as they
thought it was good PR for the
Allegation: The Roberts children damaged ORU-owned
Response: An incident occurred when children who
were visiting the Roberts
home were chasing each other in golf carts. The Roberts
children were not in the cart
and no one was injured.
Ziva Branstetter 581-8378
Oral Roberts University is at 7777 S.