By Victor Ochieng
If you’re going to give your money to a religious entity, be it a church, a Christian television network, pastor or some televangelist, it’s also your responsibility to know how your money is spent.
It was back in 1987 when Congress deliberated on the level of oversight the government has on religious organizations. The hearing was inspired by several fraud allegations against televangelist Jim Bakker and PTL. During that hearing, Pastor D. James Kennedy rightly said, “I would think that if a person is going to give money to something, that they have … a responsibility to learn where it is going.”
According to The Christian Sentinel, America’s largest television network Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is spending so much on legal expenses. Since 2012, the body has spent more than $20 million on attorney fees alone. There are several cases involving TBN that have been reported on the news, but maybe no one thought they’re costing the network so much money.
Lawyers representing the network have filed several lawsuits against Brittany Crouch, the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch. Brittany and her ex-husband Michael Koper have been accused of stealing money and important documents from the company.
A report by The Orange County Register on August 29, 2012, read: “Court records show six lawsuits against the Kopers by Trinity in Orange County Superior Court, U.S. District Court and New York state courts, each involving myriad actions.”
Since that time, the number of cases filed by TBN has gone quite high. At some point, Brittany filed for bankruptcy only for TBN to grab the opportunity to file another lawsuit.
But that’s not all. Sources reveal that Carra, Brittany’s sister, is also entangled in legal tussles with TBN. Carra has accused the network of failing to report her rape, an incident that took place when she was only 13 years old. The jury already made a decision in Carra’s case, but TBN issued a statement that they’d appeal.
But even before the legal wars involving the family erupted, TBN was already spending huge sums on legal expenses.
A review by The Christian Sentinel on the company’s Form 990s shows that TBN parted with a whopping $40 million towards settling lawsuits between 1998 and 2006. It got to a point when TBN did a way with an expenditure item tagged “settlement expenses” in their Form 990s. It’s not that these expenses are no longer realized; it’s likely that they’re being concealed under some unclear description such as “other expenses” or they’re not reported at all.
Take, for instance, the case of International Christian Broadcasting, an affiliate of TBN, whose Form 990s show they didn’t spend any money on attorney fees between 2012 and 2015, yet they sued Brittany within the period.
TBN’s official name is Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, and that’s what’s appearing on court filings.