Imagine if you will a 13-year-old girl having just been raped by a 30-year-old man, still in the state of shock – almost catatonic – sobbing uncontrollably, telling her grandmother, an ordained minister, about the trauma she had just experienced. Waiting for a hug and a prayer – maybe a little ministry – what she got instead was an accusatory scream in her face and some unsavory name-calling.
That was back in April, 2006 when innocence was lost at the Trinity Broadcasting Network. For the past five years, Carra Crouch, now 24, has had to relive that horrible night over and over again in legal depositions and in a fresh frenzy of blame and humiliation in court for the past thirty days at the hands of TBN’s gun-for-hire lawyers.
Carra filed a civil suit for damages against TBN in 2012 after a series of lawsuits were filed by TBN against her older sister, Brittany, whose attempts to bring the biggest ‘Christian’ television network into compliance with proper accounting standards as their financial director were met with outrage and eventual termination by her dear old grandparents. (Both girls are daughters of Paul Crouch Jr., the elder brother and disinherited son of TBN’s founders.)
Brittany recalls in her own words the events of Carra’s calamity in her unpublished autobiography which is what she testified to on the stand:
“My beautiful little sister, nearly 8 years younger than me and the quintessential All-American girl – she has blue eyes and blonde hair and was the most naïve and innocent person you could ever imagine. She was everything my mother had wanted in a little girl – she was girly, enjoyed playing with dolls, and wouldn’t come home covered in mud and grass stains like I would. I remember I was helping my dad coach her soccer team when she was six years old – clearly the worst player on the team – she told me she didn’t like playing soccer because she would get “too sweaty.” I was at a complete loss, she was clearly nothing like me which makes me laugh.
“Given her innocence and naiveté, I think I had this understanding or desire in my heart to protect her. She wasn’t strong and hard like me; she would need someone to help get her through the twists and turns life had to throw at her. She had always mentioned to me that I had felt more like a mother to her than a sister and I agree. We have a very close bond – even closer now given what we have been through together the last three years. I mentioned earlier that one of the things I feel most guilty and sad about in my life was leaving my sister alone in my parents’ house after I left for college. If I had known then what I know now about what was about to happen to Carra, I definitely would have stayed home, simply to be her protector. She was left alone in a world ruled by evil – a world where TBN and its corruption were so close that it was too easy for them to get their hands on her.
“In April of 2006, my sister was thirteen years old and had decided to attend one of TBN’s telethon fundraisers that was being held in Atlanta, Georgia. My grandmother’s sister and her family live in Atlanta and my sister was looking forward to spending some time with my grandmother and cousins. Telethons usually lasted 5 days but my grandmother would fly out a few days early to be sure things were ready for the live broadcast. Being TBN’s largest fundraiser of the year, all hands were on deck. There would always be a frenzy of energy, guests, audience members, and pulling at the heartstrings of viewers around the world to convince them God would bless them if they gave money to TBN. It was a display of “prosperity gospel” at its finest.
“My sister was going to be flying there with my grandmother on the corporate jet and would be in her care the entire week she was there since neither of my parents would be attending. I would assume the first part of the week went fine. My sister was running around with our two cousins, Nick and Nathan. Both Nick and Nathan worked part time for TBN so they were very friendly with TBN’s employees in Georgia. At one point, they introduced my sister to a man name Stephen Smith. Stephen was older, I think in his early thirties at the time. From what I have been told, there was one night right before Carra and my grandmother were due to fly home that Stephen and Nathan accompanied my sister back to her hotel room. Stephen ordered wine from room service and the three of them began drinking.
“At a certain point, Nathan passed out on the floor leaving my sister easily within reach of this man and his dark desires. Carra mentioned that she didn’t feel well so Stephen went to the bathroom to get her a cup of water. While in there Carra said she heard him rummaging through a bag to find something but never knew what it was. She drank the water he brought her, which she admitted tasted funny, and then she doesn’t remember anything after that.
“She awoke the next morning, feeling fuzzy and sore in personal places; Stephen was lying next to her. At that point she went into shock – not knowing where to go or who to tell. She didn’t say anything to anyone until she was home. She had a meeting with my mother and my grandmother, which took place in my grandmother’s living room. She told them what had happened, which was a very hard thing for her to do. She was embarrassed and scared. I’m sure the reaction she received from my grandmother didn’t do much to help the trauma of what had just happened to her either.
“My grandmother became furious with my sister; telling her how stupid she had been to drink and have people in her room. She told my sister what had happened to her was her fault and it would be best if she never spoke of it again. My grandma then put my mother and sister in contact with my Uncle John so he could handle the situation and ‘make it go away.’
“…After what occurred in April of 2006, Carra literally became an entirely different person. Instead of being young, happy, and carefree she became anxious, introverted, and lost.”
Carra’s endless nightmare is now in the hands of the eight women and four men that make up the jury in the civil trial. After receiving the judge’s instructions as to answering several pages of questions they must decide upon, the attorneys on both sides summed up their arguments last Wednesday, May 31st in the Superior Court of Orange County.
Judge Peter Wilson told the jury that the plaintiff must prove that it was Jan Crouch’s outrageous reckless disregard that caused Carra to suffer emotional distress. Jan knew Carra’s vulnerability and acted with negligence in her position as ordained clergy at TBN that would require mandatory reporting. Jury must decide in percentages of responsibility between plaintiff’s side (bad parenting) and TBN’s side (bad minister-grandmother) for damages awarded for mental anguish – no punitive damages to consider.
David Keesling began his opening remarks by saying it is good to be at final arguments after five years of litigation and a 30-day trial for a crime that occurred eleven years ago. “They distract, they distort, they don’t talk about Jan Crouch,” he said, but TBN’s strategy has been to create a “side-show” to draw attention away from the facts. “They pick apart – blame all on everything else and we should have been done in two weeks — bogged down intending to distort –calculated to distract to take attention away from Jan Crouch.”
“Carra was looking at an ecclesiastical leader of a global multinational network in need of Christian compassion and Jan sent her away blamed, branded, and broken. There was no ministry in what Jan Crouch did.”
As an observer, I was amazed at Keesling’s oratory skills – I had to restrain myself from applauding or shouting AMEN! His impassioned account of the hell Carra endured from the rape and Jan’s heartless, unconscionable response to berate her granddaughter for the ‘mess she put TBN in’ was quite moving. He reminded them of what came out in testimony – Jan’s impulse was to prevent a public relations fiasco for TBN. She instructed her nephew, TBN attorney John Casoria, to “do what’s best for TBN” in total disregard for what was best for Carra Crouch.
Michael King began TBN’s lack-luster closing argument by admitting that Carra Crouch was indeed raped and suffered “real trauma” from it. “I’m not heartless,” he assured the jury.
He argued that Carra’s grandmother was not the problem, but her parents, Paul Crouch Jr. and his then estranged wife Tawny, were to blame for Carra’s eating disorder and other emotional problems. He recalled testimony from a psychiatrist that had one interview with Carra as proof her issues predated the April 2006 incident.
To establish his theory, he recounted testimony from the trial that revealed how dysfunctional her family life was and that Carra was damaged goods before 2006. Both Jr’s daughters had been hammered by TBN’s attorneys and they admitted that they did not recall their parents ever being happily married.
King recalled all the dirty details TBN raised in the case about lurid behavior of Tawny, who was painted to be a simpleton with no moral character. (I will not repeat all the sordid details brought up by TBN’s character assassination of Carra and her immediate family since it was no doubt intended to tarnish their reputation and are irrelevant to the case – even if it was used as a distraction by these legal sharks.)
He briefly touched upon the subject of the lawsuit: Jan Crouch. “Jan’s not here to defend herself.” He said there was no evidence that Jan blew up at Carra (other than the word of Carra and Tawny) and it was not in her character to do so. “You will have to decide that Jan’s behavior goes beyond the bounds of all decency.” And he told the jury to decide whether Jan was sought out as a grandma or as an ordained minister – the answer to that question could turn the case.
He argued that even though Jan did not take Carra to the police to report a crime, neither did her mom or her absentee father. The perpetrator was indeed fired, and the lawyer said he sure should have been. (Stephen Smith took the 5th amendment in a deposition so did not testify in the trial.)
In conclusion, King dismissed the entire case as a conspiracy against TBN concocted by Brittany who supposedly drew Carra into it. He pointed to the courtroom screen that contained an email with the name “Jackie Alnor” in bold print. (Brittany’s private emails were successfully subpoenaed by the court.) He made a big deal out of my suggestion that it would be a good idea for Brittany to seek out a pro-bono attorney such as Gloria Allred who could bring some public attention to the harassment lawsuits filed against her by TBN. He said that Jackie Alnor’s interview with Brittany was part of a media plot to harm the network.
In rebuttal, David Keesling said of TBN’s defense that they are, “sanctimonious under golden domes, but at the end of the day they are destroyers… If we just turn our heads like Jan Crouch, we tolerate it.”
It is hypocritical for King to claim that Jan isn’t here to defend herself, when it was he and his legal team that stretched this case out for five years, very likely to wait out Jan’s demise. How convenient that when they finally stopped all the depositions and stalling it was after she was incommunicado. I would have loved to see Keesling have a go at her on the stand.
And I wish that Keesling would have produced character witnesses against Jan Crouch that could have reported what was common knowledge at TBN – Jan was a potty-mouthed, short-tempered tyrant that abused her employees. Her reputation for having an unofficial casting couch as program director followed her – especially her penchant for carrying on with men that looked like “Jesus.” Some might excuse her dalliances with men since her husband, Paul Crouch, was known for his preference for males – as it has been well-reported, paying out huge sums of hush money to silence his gay lovers. Their on-the-air marriage was a sham – Brittany says she never recalled Paul and Jan ever living in the same house in her lifetime.
The heir to TBN, Matthew Crouch, with a word could put an end to all this bad public relations mess by simply dropping the lawsuits against his niece, Brittany. Brittany is a professing Christian and the Bible has an injunction against Christians taking other believers to secular court. Matt should be held to account for defying Scripture. (See 1 Cor 6:1-8) Where are the Christian leaders who are collectively turning a blind eye to this? They’ll buy airtime on TBN, but as recent history has shown, none will put truth and justice above their own self-interests.
Matt seems to have a public relations campaign of his own, transforming TBN from a rhinestone hillbilly showcase into an emergent culturally acceptable lineup – replacing Benny Hinn with The Shack and ending Praise-a-Thons to raise money by liquidating TBN’s properties. I won’t complain if he gives Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar the axe now that’s he’s added Mike Huckabee and Max Lucado. All fitting for the rise of the Church of Laodicea.
So, is there a conspiracy against The Trinity Broadcasting Network? To cry “conspiracy” is a tactic used by those who are trying to shift blame away from their own evil doings. It is shooting the messenger. It is a distraction from admitting wrong doing, which goes against the instincts of narcissists that believe they are above scrutiny, even if they are keepers of public trusts such as the airwaves. They believe that the biblical injunction, “Touch not God’s anointed” applies to them – the height of arrogance.
Keesling told me that my name came up in 25 of the depositions and eight times during the trial, not to mention once in the closing arguments. To me that is really stretching it. In fact, it is ludicrous. That is digging pretty deep to invent a defense for Jan Crouch’s abhorrent behavior. It’s like the dumbest ad hominin attack by losers I’ve ever seen. It simply proves they have no argument at all.
TBN’s 990s shows they spent $6 million in attorney’s compensation in 2014, the latest ones we could find. Much of that was used to avoid accountability to the Body of Christ, even though Paul and Jan Crouch have always claimed that TBN belongs to all the partners who have donated over the years.
You won’t read this kind of reporting in the “Christian” media. Where is WND or RNS? Where is Charisma Magazine? Where is Christianity Today? You’ll only read regurgitations of the secular news stories – and probably just small little blurbs at that. There’s never been a bigger need for uncompromising Christian reporting than today – investigative reporters instead of PR writers who stick to the narrative of the publications.
The takeaway from this trial is that the founders of TBN, the late Paul and Jan Crouch not only produced television programming that distorted the face of Christianity around the world, but they also produced a dysfunctional family that eats its young.
[When the jury comes back with their decision, I’ll post an update.]
June 5, 2017 UPDATE:
The jury came back this afternoon with the decision that Jan Crouch had a 45% liability for a $2,000,000 judgment amount. My source tells me that TBN already said they would appeal. No doubt they will spend more than the $900,000 on attorney costs to do so — but I’m sure that’s fine and dandy with the legal sharks.
At least this is a psychological win for Carra – but it might not cover her student loans after her own legal fees come out of the amount, if and when it’s paid. The big, giant disappointment is how all of this has been pretty much ignored by the Christian media. The institutional church doesn’t give a rip. They will continue to wage their own public relations campaign by ignoring anything that gets in the way of their use of the airwaves. They’ve struck a deal with the devil — they lose in the long run.
My interview with Brittany
Walter Martin’s attempt in 1987 to bring accountability to TBN