Initial witness list full of notables
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008
8/18/08 at 11:42 AM
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See all 125 people
on Tim and
Among 125 people and groups listed are sena- tors, a county commis- sioner and an ex-mayor.
A preliminary witness list filed Wednesday in a lawsuit against Oral Roberts University includes such notables as U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, former Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune and County Commissioner Randi Miller.
The 125 people and groups were listed in a Tulsa County District Court filing by former ORU professors Tim and Paulita Brooker, who sued ORU and others in October.
Lawyers have begun interviewing people related to the case for research and trial preparation. A pretrial conference is set for Jan. 26.
Those involved in the lawsuit are prevented by a gag order from talking about the case outside of court, so they can't explain why each witness is included, said Paul Boudreaux, an attorney for the Brookers.
Miller's name came up in the first version of the Brookers' lawsuit. The Brookers — and former plaintiff John Swails, who settled his part of the case and returned to teaching at ORU — claimed that then-ORU President Richard Roberts forced Tim Brooker's government students to help with Miller's campaign for Tulsa mayor in 2006.
The Brookers also alleged that Tim Brooker was forced to lie to the IRS about Roberts' allegedly requiring students to help on the campaign. Also in the mayoral race that year, LaFortune, the incumbent, ran for re-election.
Two former members of Congress — Bob Beauprez of Colorado and James Traficant of Ohio, who was convicted of taking bribes, fraud and racketeering — are listed as witnesses.
Brooker's government students routinely worked on campaigns to gain experience and to network.
A Gary Jones, possibly the Jones who is chairman of the state Republican Party, is included in the list of potential witnesses, along with former ORU government students.
Former ORU regents, in- cluding televangelists Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland, and local religious leaders Carlton Pearson and Bill Scheer, are listed as witnesses. Roberts; his wife, Lindsay Roberts; and his father and ORU founder, Oral Roberts, are also included.
Also listed is Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation in Dallas, which investigates religious media.
Jerry Isaacs, ORU's campus security director; Lee Belmonte, a private investigator; and Sam Douglass, a pilot, have all been subpoenaed in the case and are listed as witnesses. "Former nannies of Richard and Lindsay Roberts" and several ORU administrators are included.
Richard Roberts resigned in November after intense scrutiny and accusations spawned by the suit. The board of regents was replaced by a board of trustees when the Green family, which founded the Hobby Lobby and Mardel retail chains, donated $70 million to the debt-ridden school.
Now ORU is conducting a presidential search and working to implement a system of shared responsibility., updating the campus and more.
April Marciszewski 581-8475