This is a big story! At least for us that grew up with TBN in some form or fashion. I wish to give the h/t to Slaughter of the Sheep, where I saw this story first. I do not know how this will all pan out, or if it is true or not, but you don’t pay someone $425,000 for a lie. Here it is, from OC Weekly:
OH, HEAVENLY FATHER!
Did televangelist Paul Crouch Sr., founder of fervently anti-gay Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), secretly date a gay employee?
That’s the implication of a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed late last month in Orange County Superior Court by Brian E. Dugger, who spent 14 years as a TBN broadcasting engineer.
You may recall a 2004 Los Angeles Times revelation that Crouch denied he had homosexual tendencies but paid $425,000 to silence Enoch Lonnie Ford, another onetime male TBN employee who’d said he and the wealthy televangelist had a sexual affair.
In the latest court action, first reported by former longtime Timesman William Lobdell at his site, WilliamLobdell.com, Dugger says he met Crouch while working at the network’s Tennessee offices in the mid-’90s. The filing stops short of claiming the men slept together, but alleges that Crouch “persistently” invited Dugger, then a TBN employee in San Antonio, to “private dinners typically followed by drinks at his home.” In 2000, according to the lawsuit, the televangelist “insisted” that the men live closer. Dugger relocated from Texas to the Christian broadcasting network’s headquarters in Tustin.
If Crouch was content to associate privately with Dugger, his relatives in Southern California were apparently aghast. Shortly after Dugger’s transfer here, Jan Crouch, the elder Crouch’s wife, infamous for showcasing big hairdos and heavy black eye makeup on broadcasts, and Danny York, a TBN vice president, began pressuring him about his sexuality.
“[Dugger] was told not to dress so ‘gay’ or to wear jewelry, as it would identify him as a homosexual,” the lawsuit alleges. “Thereafter, throughout his employment, he was continuously harassed, mocked, taunted and told not to look gay.”
According to the suit, Paul Crouch Jr., who has assumed greater control over TBN operations from his father in recent years, participated in the abuse, telling Dugger he “should quit being gay and act more straight.”
The court filing details other stories:
In 2002, Junior told him that a picture on his personal website was “really gay,” that he needed to pay more attention to what “girls are into” sexually and that he should “pursue sexual relationships with women instead of men.”
The next bit is from Rick Ross’s library o’stuff, and is the original L.A. Times article… the question becomes, “where was I??”:
The time was the autumn of 1996, the scene a cabin in the San Bernardino mountains near Los Angeles. The cabin was owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world’s largest televangelist organisation with outlets on satellite, cable and terrestrial channels around the world. That much we know.
According to Lonnie Ford, an admittedly troubled, sometime drug addict who worked for the station, it was also the site of an inappropriate, and potentially scandalous, sexual encounter between himself and TBN’s president and founder, Paul Crouch.
For eight years, Ford has been threatening to go public with the story and has written a lengthy manuscript detailing his allegations. The two sides have been in and out of court, money has changed hands and each has accused the other of acting in bad faith.
Crouch has denied everything, as well he might, since homosexuality is a big no-no in the Christian fundamentalist world which he inhabits, and which has provided him with a lifestyle of striking lavishness over 31 years.
The star evangelist on TBN, Benny Hinn, once announced that “God will destroy the homosexual community of America … with fire”.
For eight years, TBN managed to keep the story under wraps, persuading courts to keep the relevant documents sealed and threatening Ford with legal action if he tried to break the terms of a 1998 settlement and seek a publisher for his manuscript.
That changed this month, though, when the Los Angeles Times got wind of the affair and went public with at least the gist of it. Through interviews with some of those involved, including a friend of Ford’s who helped him to write the manuscript, the Times pieced together a tawdry legal history in which Ford has demanded large sums in exchange for his silence, and TBN reacted first by paying up and then by branding him a liar and extortionist.
America may be about to witness its first juicy televangelist scandal in 15 years….
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