PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A New Jersey televangelist says CBS’ sloppy reporting and editing falsely implied that he is a pedophile.
Raymond Gordon, of St. Matthew’s Baptist Church, sued CBS and three reporters with CBS Channel 3, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
Gordon says the man who was accused of sexually assaulting a minor, Archie Bolger, “briefly volunteered as a ‘preacher’ at St. Matthews, [but] he had not served in that capacity for years prior to his arrest. Many members of St. Matthew’s – typically 20 or more at any time – volunteer as ‘preachers’ who are occasionally called upon to deliver gospel during St. Matthew’s busy Easter service schedule. Bolger never had any leadership role in the church, nor was Bolger ever a St. Matthew’s employee.”
But Gordon says that didn’t stop defendant Chris May, an anchorman for CBS 3, from kicking off a Sept. 19 broadcast by saying: “Tonight, a community in shock. A preacher at a large local church is under arrest, charged with molesting a young girl.”
Gordon claims: “Despite the lack of any connection between the arrest and Pastor Gordon, the CBS 3 broadcast opened with daylight video of St. Matthew’s main entrance.
“Anchor Chris May then turned the report over to co-anchor, defendant Natasha Brown. Failing to identify Bolger by name, co-anchor Brown announced: ‘Tonight a local preacher is facing disturbing charges – he is under arrest for alleged child molestation. The pastor works at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church in Williamstown, Gloucester County, and that is where Eyewitness News reporter Elizabeth Hur is standing by live.”
Hur is also named as a defendant.
Gordon says: “CBS 3’s Eyewitness News broadcast continued with a voice-over that, on information and belief, Hur recorded earlier in the day. Hur’s voice-over began: ‘a preacher here at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church must now fight charges of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and related offenses.’
“Hur’s voice-over was accompanied by daylight footage of St. Matthew’s main entrance, immediately followed by video of St. Matthew’s main entrance sign that prominently identified ‘Dr. Raymond M. Gordon, Pastor.’
“While Hur’s voice-over continued, the CBS 3 broadcast moved to video of a church van, which again prominently identified ‘Pastor Raymond M. Gordon.’
“The CBS 3 broadcast concluded with daytime interviews of three of Bolger’s neighbors, along with a grainy photograph of Bolger apparently copied from the Facebook website. Bolger’s name was not mentioned until 1:18 minutes and seconds into a broadcast that spanned 2:32.” (Citations to exhibits and photos omitted.)
Gordon adds: “On information and belief, “none of Bolger’s neighbors interviewed by the CBS 3 defendants (or by their agents) was asked whether Bolger was St. Matthew’s pastor, or whether Bolger had any affiliation with St. Matthews.
“Despite having contrary information readily available, the CBS 3 defendants falsely, recklessly, and maliciously broadcast a report that led countless viewers to believe that Bolger’s alleged criminal sexual assault involved St. Matthew’s and, even more perniciously, that Pastor Gordon was the perpetrator of or was somehow involved in Bolger’s alleged crimes.”
The church, Gordon, and the outfit that broadcasts his sermons, Perfect Peace Ministry, sued CBS Corp. dba KYW TV-3 and CBS 3, news anchors Chris May and Natasha Brown, and reporter Elizabeth Hur.
Gordon demands punitive damages for false light, invasion of privacy and defamation.
He is represented by Geoffrey Johnson with Sprague & Sprague.