Accusations Against Son Shock Roberts

Associated Press/October 11, 2007

New York — Oral Roberts was blind-sided by allegations that the university he founded was being exploited by his son and daughter-in-law, the aging televangelist said Tuesday in his first public comments on the case.

Roberts phoned CNN's "Larry King Live" to weigh in on the accusations leveled in a lawsuit by three professors who claim they were fired from Oral Roberts University for questioning the school's spending and students' involvement in a political campaign.

"Like my son says, it was a surprise and sort of a shock, but we have been through some tough experiences in building Oral Roberts University in the 1960s, and we have surprised them all and have built a university that we believe is for the glory of God," Roberts said,

Roberts, 89, spoke from his home in California as his son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Lindsay, sat on King's set in New York.

Richard Roberts, the Tulsa, Okla., university's president, told King he never asked students to work on a mayoral campaign there. The fired professors allege up to 50 students worked for one candidate in what may have been a violation of state and federal law because of the university's nonprofit status.

"I didn't ask or coerce anybody to do that," Richard Roberts said.

The younger Roberts also said a Bahamas trip that the professors describe as his daughter's senior vacation was a business trip, and that his daughter and others accompanied him as part of a university recruiting effort.

The couple also said many of the remodeling projects on their university-owned home — the professors allege were 11 such projects in 14 years — were because of black mold and hail damage.

"I have not done anything wrong," Richard Roberts said. "I can't say how much this has hurt my family."

The elder Roberts founded the 5,300-student school, known for its 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of praying hands, in 1963. He famously told viewers in 1987 that God told him to raise $8 million for the university or he would be "called home."

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