Gossip is always ugly, especially when it's untrue.

You may have heard of the allegations made against Trinity Broadcasting President, Paul Crouch. From What I have been able to learn, the allegations are likely untrue, and probably arise from the greed of a disgruntled TBN employee.

The following Article was posted on the web site "Answers in Action," hosted by Gretchen Passantino (who is probably not a number one fan of TBN).

Christianity Today Article

TBN Statement

This article is a mirror of the Answers in Action article
Tuesday, September 14 2004 @ 04:55 PM EDT

TBN Founder Paul Crouch's Gay Sex Accuser Resurfaces

When rumors of a gay sexual encounter involving the Rev. Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), reached the ears of some Christians in 1998, most disbelieved the rumours, even those who had strong disagreements with Crouch's theology and TBN's leadership in the Word Faith Movement. The accuser's dubious background, lack of specificity, and lack of evidence argued against the story's truthfulness, and the accuser's willingness to be quiet for the right price tipped the scales for most. The story never became public and was soon forgotten.

But now the story has resurrected 7 years later as details have been disclosed regarding a second attempt during the last year by accuser Enoch Lonnie Ford to get money or mileage out of his story. Los Angeles Times staff writer William Lobdell has written 2 articles this week on the story, although he has not revealed how the Times obtained copies of sealed court records, confidential arbitration reports, and other information. Ford has not been willing to speak on the record and all statements from TBN have vehemently denied the allegations.

Ford, a long-time drug user and petty criminal, began working for TBN in 1992 after time in a TBN associated drug treatment program in Texas. He repeatedly violated his probation, went back to drugs, and had other trouble with the law (including a conviction for having sex with a 17 year old boy) over the next 5 years or so.

Nevertheless, TBN kept taking him back into employment, even sometimes arguing in his favor to judges and paying off at least one of Ford's bad debts of $12,000. At the end of 1996 Ford once more tested positive for drugs and despite TBN's support was sentenced to a state prison system drug treatment facility in Norco, California. Although TBN promised the judge Ford would have a job when he completed his sentence, when he got out in February of February of 1998, TBN would not rehire him.

Shortly thereafter Ford approached TBN staff with a threat to disclose publicly that Paul Crouch and he had shared a sexual encounter in late 1996. After a flurry of negotiations, a few months after Ford's first approach to TBN in 1998, TBN and Ford signed a confidential legal agreement in which Ford promised to keep silent and TBN gave him $425,000.

Fast forward to April 2003, when Ford showed up at the set of TBN's Costa Mesa broadcast studio and handed Crouch a copy of a manuscript he had written with the help of one friend and the support of another. The manuscript included the alleged sexual incident with Crouch. The next day Ford's attorney, Eugene Zech, offered to sell all rights to the manuscript to TBN for $10 million. TBN and Ford then entered into a series of legal manoeuvers, with TBN arguing that Ford could never divulge the allegations because of his 1998 agreement, and Ford arguing that his constitutional right to free speech trumped his previous agreement. A court ordered arbitration proceeding was completed in June of this year and Arbitrator Robert J. Neill ruled that Ford had no right to disclose anything, including the existence of the 1998 agreement, because he had sold that right to Crouch for $425,000 and "bargained away his right to speak on certain matters" and that his "right to discuss these matters was bought and paid for. He relinquished that right." Throughout the proceedings TBN sought and obtained court protection to keep the information and proceedings secret, arguing that disclosure would cause irreparable harm to the reputation of Crouch and the ministry of TBN even if the allegations were untrue.

When TBN discovered that information and documents had been leaked to the Times last weekend, it issued a 650 word statement that called the allegations "salacious" and called Ford an ex-convict and longtime drug abuser. The statement said that Crouch had agreed to the earlier settlement while still protesting that the allegation was false only in order to avoid costly litigation and scandal. The statement remarked, "The importance of the settlement does not rest on the money paid, but rather on Dr. Crouch's vehement denial of the allegations made against him as well as the agreement of the accuser to keep confidential and refrain from repeating his false claims and accusations." TBN also says that no ministry money was used to pay Ford, although they did not identify the source of the $425,000.

For Ford's part, he is not speaking on the record, and the Times was unable to produce any first hand confirmation of the truthfulness of the allegation. Two people were said to have second hand knowledge of the charges, but their accounts are disputed by others present at the same time the discussions allegedly took place. Two friends of Ford from the time period of the allegation have said that he told them at the time about the encounter, but they had no other evidence to back up his story. The Times was unable to discover what happened to Ford's 1998 settlement amount of $425,000, but reported that today he lives modestly in one room of an Orange County home and works as a mortgage salesman.

Paul Crouch's son, Matt, who is also a TBN executive, told the Times, "In hindsight, we should have fought Lonnie [Ford] tooth and nail" (in 1998). "We should have drawn the battle lines right then."

Most Christian ministries who are aware of the Times articles empathize with Crouch's predicament, don't seem to believe Ford, and are most concerned that the notoriety, even if the allegations are false, damages Christianity in the eyes of non-Christians.