Sunday, October 07, 2007

Oral Roberts University scandal

Ed Brayton has an entertaining post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars about the lawsuit against Oral Roberts University and Oral's son Richard Roberts by several former ORU faculty:
The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by three former professors. They sued ORU and Roberts, alleging they were wrongfully dismissed after reporting the school's involvement in a local political race.

Richard Roberts, according to the suit, asked a professor in 2005 to use his students and university resources to aid a county commissioner's bid for Tulsa mayor. Such involvement would violate state and federal law because of the university's nonprofit status. Up to 50 students are alleged to have worked on the campaign.

The lawsuit's allegations include:

• A longtime maintenance employee was fired so that an underage male friend of Mrs. Roberts could have his position.

• Mrs. Roberts -- who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU's "first lady" on the university's Web site -- frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

• The university jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 trip was billed to the ministry as an "evangelistic function of the president."

• Mrs. Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico's clothing store alone in less than a year, and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, "As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off." The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.

• Mrs. Roberts was given a white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible by ministry donors.

• University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts' home to do the daughters' homework.

• The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts' children.

• The Roberts' home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years.

Surprise! A televangelist and his family are using a ministry for personal gain.

UPDATE (October 9, 2007): The above allegations come from a report prepared by Stephanie Cantese, Richard Roberts' sister-in-law, which was on a laptop which was being repaired by an ORU student. The student gave a copy to one of the professors, who turned it over to the university board of regents.

UPDATE (October 10, 2007): CNN reports that Roberts has denied (and in some cases, given explanations for) the allegations. (Thanks, Sphere, for the link to this post from the CNN story.)

UPDATE (October 14, 2007): The allegations in the lawsuit have become even more lurid.

1 comment:

Reed said...

Like father, like son, it'd seem. From the wikipedia article on the father: From the late 1980's to 1992 [Oral] Roberts maintained a residence in the exclusive St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Roberts would commute via private jet from his base in Oklahoma to Boca Raton airport for weekend visits to his golf club retreat.