September 14, 2004

Televangelist Tries to Gag Gay Lover

United States: I love a story about televangelists getting caught with their pants down. This time it's Paul Crouch, founder of the world's largest Christian broadcasting network, who has called out the big guns to try and prevent a former employee from spilling the beans about a sexual encounter he had with Crouch eight years ago.

Crouch, 70, is the president of Trinity Broadcasting Network, based in Orange County, whose Christian programming reaches millions of viewers around the world via satellite, cable and broadcast stations.

The source of the allegations against him is Enoch Lonnie Ford, who met Crouch at a TBN-affiliated drug treatment center in 1991 and later went to work for the ministry.

After Ford threatened to sue TBN in 1998, claiming that he had been unjustly fired, Crouch reached a $425,000 settlement with him. In return, Ford agreed, among other things, not to discuss his claim about a sexual encounter with the TV preacher.
But in the last year, Ford has threatened to go public with his story, prompting a flurry of legal maneuvers — conducted in closed court hearings, sealed pleadings and private arbitration.

In court papers, Crouch has denied the allegations, and ministry officials have described Ford — who has a history of drug problems and has served time for a sex offense — as a liar and an extortionist.

I can't see the ministry officials being impartial witnesses. But it looks like Crouch made his bed and is know not too happy to be forced to lie in it.

TBN and Crouch went on the legal offensive after they learned that Ford had written a book manuscript that included an account of the alleged sexual encounter.

In a dramatic flourish, Ford had appeared at a TBN broadcast studio in Costa Mesa, minutes before the start of a Praise-a-thon fundraiser, and, without comment, handed Crouch a copy of the manuscript

Ford's lawyer later told ministry officials that they could keep the work out of public view by buying the rights. After some discussion, he suggested that $10 million might be a reasonable price.

While negotiations continued, Crouch sued to enforce the 1998 secrecy agreement and obtained a restraining order barring Ford from seeking a publisher for his book.

It looks like the good extortionist is fighting to hide sexual orientation from multiple fronts.

Despite TBN's efforts to keep Ford's charges secret, they surfaced in an unrelated 1998 lawsuit. A former bodyguard for TBN personality Benny Hinn testified in a deposition that during a European bus tour that year, Hinn had told a group of associates about a sexual relationship that Paul Crouch had with his chauffeur.

The witness, Mario C. Licciardello, quoted Hinn as saying: Paul's defense was that he was drunk.

Hinn and six others mentioned by Licciardello, who died in 2000, told The Times that Hinn never made such remarks. However, Rick Jones, a retired police officer and ordained minister who worked for Hinn, said he heard Hinn talk about Crouch's alleged homosexual relationship on that bus.

I think the cat is well and truly out of the bag.

Televangelist Paul Crouch Attempts to Keep Accuser Quiet [BugMeNot] - LA Times, 12th September 2004.

2 comments

I read this headline literally at first, and wondered whether a ball gag or a more conventional variety was used.

I couldn't resist the tabloid headline.

I'd have to go with the ball gag option and I'm sure there's a lot of other S&M props for punishing naughty televangelists. I think I just painted myself a picture I'd rather not see.

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This page contains a single entry by Red Wolf published on September 14, 2004 2:27 AM.

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