Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Corruption Allegations Drive Oral Roberts University President From Office

TULSA (CN) - Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, the son of the televangelist founder, resigned Friday, facing allegations his misspent university money to support his family's lavish lifestyle. See the Oct. 9 CNS story about the lawsuit from three professors in which the allegations surfaced.

TULSA, Oct. 9 (CN) - Oral Roberts Universityand its President Richard Roberts defamed and fired the chairman of the history department and two other professors for protesting orders to campaign with college students' for Republican political candidates, the professors claim in Tulsa County Court.

Plaintiffs claim that Roberts and his top officers, including the provost, dean and assistant dean, conspired to defame and fire them in retaliation for the professors reporting to a supine Board of Trustees that Roberts and his family bilked the college for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plaintiffs claim Roberts sent his daughter to the Bahamas on a "class trip" and billed the college $29,000 for it, calling it an "evangelistic function;" remodeled a college dorm for the personal use of his daughters and billed the college for it; forced Oral Roberts students to do homework for his daughters, and turn it in to their Christian school as the daughters' work; that Roberts' son stole college equipment and Roberts ignored the videotaped evidence of it; that Roberts' wife charged more than $50,000 worth of personal clothing to the college and charged the college for remodeling their house 11 times in 14 years; and that Roberts tried to make a professor a fall guy when federal investigators probed the campaign finance violations that Roberts had ordered. See story. See complaint.

Plaintiff John Swails was chairman of the Department of History, Humanities and Government; Tim Brooker coordinated the government program; Paulita Brooker was an adjunct professor. Tim Brooker claims in Tulsa County Court that he gained such fame at Oral Roberts that the Republican National Committee hired him and his students "for a pilot program that the RNC hoped to represent ... to further Republican political efforts." Brooker says it was legal because "all of this activity involved political races outside the State of Oklahoma," and the RNC paid for it. But he says Richard Roberts ordered him in December 2005 "to utilize the talent and resources of T Brooker and his students in local political races," citing a Bible verse to justify it. Brooker says he objected because Roberts' plan would use tax-exempt college money to campaign for Republicans, in violation of federal laws. He claims that after the U.S. Treasury Department investigated Oral Roberts for campaign violations in May 2006, Roberts and other top officers conspired to make him the fall guy, and to cover up Roberts' direction of the scheme.

Brooker claims Roberts ordered him and his students to work on behalf of Randi Miller, Tulsa mayoral candidate in the Republican primary. He claims that when he resisted, pointing out that it would be a violation of campaign finance law, defendants President Roberts, Provost Mark Lewandoski, Dean Wendy Shirk and Associate Dean Jeff Ogle targeted him for firing and conspired to cover up Roberts' direction of the illegal acts.

He claims that while the defendants were refusing to pay him $18,000 in salary owed and publicly humiliating him, "an ORU student working in the Randi Miller campaign provided to plaintiff, T Brooker, a compilation of damaging information regarding Defendants, ORU and Roberts." Brooker says he reported these allegations to the Board of Regents, and they fired him.

"Some of the more salacious entries - of which the Defendant ORU, Defendant Roberts, and members of the Board of Regents are painfully aware - have been omitted from this petition to preserve, as much as possible, the remaining positive image of the University," he says.

Here are some of those allegations:

Roberts and his wife ordered Oral Roberts University students to do their daughters' homework, which the daughters then turned in as their own work at Victory Christian School;

The Roberts had their home remodeled 11 times in 14 years at college expense;

Videotapes captured one of the Roberts' five children vandalizing and stealing college property, and "when confronted with the incriminating tape, Richard Roberts refused to address the issue ... (and) personally benefited from the property stolen";

"Dormitories received extensive structural modification for the exclusive use of the Roberts daughters, and all costs passed on to the university";

The Roberts have charged $51,206 in personal clothing to the college;

Richard Roberts personal cars are bought by the university and "are regularly washed, waxed, and cleaned by university employees" and the college buys all his gas;

The college pays all the cell phone bills for the Roberts family;

Mrs. Roberts' cell phone bills often exceeded $800 a month, and many of her text message "were sent to underage males - often between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. - who had been provided phones at university expense;

"The university provides and stocks a commercial soda machine in the garage of the Roberts home, with all expenses being borne by the university";

The Roberts daughters were "home schooled" but their teacher was on the college payroll for five years, and they went to class at a college "guest house" that was remodeled and maintained for this by the college;

Roberts uses a college airplane "for mostly personal purposes," including to take one daughter and her friends to Orlando and the Bahamas for a "senior trip";

The cost of this senior trip - $29,411 - was billed to the college under the misleading attribution, "Evangelistic function of the President";

Mrs. Roberts bills her clothing to the college, and has said, "As long as I wear it once in TV, we can charge it off";

"Mrs. Roberts spent over $39,000 at one clothing store alone - Chico's - in less than one year" and billed the college;

"Mrs. Roberts ordered that her children be paid $200/song on the (Oral Roberts) television show";

The college "maintains a stable of horses for the exclusive use of the Roberts children," all paid for by the university;

"Mrs. Roberts personally awarded 13 non-academic, non need-based scholarships exclusively to friends of her children. Two of the recipients scored 12's on the ACT, making th

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.