FORT WORTH (CN) - A Texas televangelist's TV station sued three former employees, claiming the women tried to extort $7.5 million from Marcus Lamb, founder of the Word of God Fellowship and Daystar Television Network, by threatening to reveal Lamb's infidelity to his wife.
Word of God's lawsuit against the women, in Tarrant County Court, comes just days after one of the accused former employees, Jeanette Hawkins, filed sued the network in Dallas County Court.
Plaintiffs World of God Fellowship dba Daystar Television Network also sued Karen Thompson and Jennifer Falcon, two of Hawkins' former co-workers.
Daystar is the second-largest Christian network in the world, broadcasting "into more than 200 countries and 671 million households around the world," according to the complaint. "Daystar's mission is to reach souls with the good news of Jesus Christ and to seek out every available means of distribution to a world in need of hope." It adds.
Hawkins says Marcus Lamb and a female executive hired her as marketing director for the network and promised she would be working in Christian environment. But Hawkins claims it soon became apparent that Lamb and the executive were having an affair.
Hawkins said she was devastated by the realization, and also by a request from Lamb's wife, Joni Lamb, to cover up the reason for the executive's departure from the network.
The Lambs have acknowledged the affair, describing it as "a very personal challenge" their marriage went through several years ago, a statement they reiterate in the lawsuit.
They say that neither Hawkins, Thompson, nor Falcon were involved in Lamb's fling, and "are complete outsiders to the ordeal."
Daystar's countersuit cites an email Hawkins allegedly sent in June 2008, thanking the Lambs for providing her with "a wonderful opportunity" and adding that "it is hard saying good bye to the Daystar family." She signed the email with "blessings and much love."
The Lambs claim the email demonstrates that Hawkins either lied then or is now lying to the Dallas court.
"The truth is that Hawkins has spun a web of deceit to the media, via the Dallas court filing, in the hope that her baseless filing will detract from her leading role in the plot to extort Daystar," the complaint states.
It adds: "armed with knowledge of the Lambs' private matter, defendants schemed - while they were still employed by Daystar and thereafter - to use the Lambs' ordeal to their financial benefit."
The TV station claims that in mid-November this year, Daystar's outside counsel was contacted by Dallas attorney Austin Fisher, who said he had a matter involving Daystar that he wanted to discuss.
During the subsequent meeting, Fisher said he was representing the three plaintiffs in this case, and describes "details about the [Marcus Lamb] affair and other sensational and false allegations against Daystar," according to the complaint.
Fisher demanded a $7.5 million settlement and threatened to go to the media if payment wasn't made by Dec. 1, according to the complaint.
Daystar claims attorney Fisher "bragged about being involved in the Paula Jones case and his taking of President Clinton's deposition, with reference to the incumbent media attention to support the sum of money that his clients had in mind to resolve the matter."
The complaint continues: "Fisher stated that he had a number in mind that would globally-not segregated by client or claim-resolve the matters of Hawkins, Thompson, and Falcon. Fisher demanded $7.5 million from Daystar. If Daystar failed to pay up by the first of December, then the sensational allegations would be made public using a media that Fisher claimed 'he knew how to deal with.' Defendants' conduct constitutes, at a minimum, extortion."
Hawkins filed her lawsuit on Dec. 2. Fisher is not named as a party to the complaint.
The network seeks damages and exemplary damages on claims of conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of confidentiality agreements.
It is represented by Marshall M. Searcy, Jr. and Michael D. Anderson with Kelly Hart & Hallman of Fort Worth.
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