TBN faces rape claim in court

Orange County Register/November 23, 2014

By Teri Sforza

Something happened one night in a Georgia hotel room during the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s spring Praise-a-Thon, involving the 13-year-old granddaughter of the Christian broadcaster’s founders and a 30-year-old man who worked for them.

Both sides acknowledge that the man and the child smoked a cigarette together on the balcony, drank champagne in her room, and watched a movie on her bed, according to depositions in a civil trial expected to begin this week.

Trinity maintains that young Carra Crouch soon fell asleep, essentially ending the episode – and that Carra Crouch was foolish to let a 30-year-old man into her room.

But Carra Crouch, now 21, argues that far more than a smoke and a drink happened that night: The man fondled her, tried to kiss her, and gave her a glass of water that she suspects was laced with a drug that made her pass out, according to her lawsuit against Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, the nonprofit that runs TBN. When she awoke, she suspected she had been raped.

Rather than reporting the incident to authorities, as ordained ministers in California are required to do, Trinity fired the man and swept everything under the rug to avoid bad publicity, Crouch’s suit alleges.

Crouch sued Trinity in 2012, alleging sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. Her allegations are perhaps the most explosive salvo in a legal battle raging among Trinity principals, cleaving the first family of Christian broadcasting into pieces.

Hearings on a flurry of motions from Trinity are expected to begin Monday. Trinity is asking the court for a summary judgment – a decision without the need for a trial – and seeks to prevent Crouch from using some documents that it has argued were stolen. Those motions “will certainly further limit the case, should it survive to trial,” Trinity spokesman Colby May said.

Crouch’s lawyers declined to comment. If the case does proceed to trial, it would be unusual; Trinity has settled several high-profile claims out of court in the past.


After that night in Georgia, Crouch felt guilty and ashamed, and feared she was in big trouble, she said at her deposition. She returned to California and told family members a version of this story – minus, Trinity maintains, key details that she now alleges – and Trinity swiftly fired the man.

“TBN has gathered sufficient evidence to terminate you with cause,” Trinity attorney (and Crouch cousin) John Casoria told the man by phone, according to internal Trinity documents that are part of the court record. “If this evidence was given to law enforcement authorities, it most probably would be sufficient to bring criminal charges against you which, if convicted, could put you in jail.”

Nothing would be forwarded to police, however, if the man agreed to cut contact with everyone affiliated with TBN and did not file claims for unemployment or workers’ compensation, Casoria told him, according to the Trinity documents.

Carra Crouch never heard from the man again. No one took her to the doctor to see if she had been raped; no one suggested she talk to a therapist; and no one alerted authorities in either California or Georgia that a sexual assault on a child may have occurred, she said at her deposition.

At her deposition, Carra Crouch said she has since suffered much in her life – eating disorders, cutting episodes, dabbling in drugs, running away from home, even working briefly as a stripper. That night in the Georgia hotel room, and the lack of support she received from the adults in her life in its wake, are at the root of that suffering, she alleges.

Both her grandmother Jan Crouch and cousin John Casoria – who she says were calling the shots back then – were ordained ministers, and as such, legally required to report any suspected child abuse to authorities under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, Crouch’s suit says.

She seeks justice, she said in her deposition, in the form of an apology and some sort of compensation.

When Crouch first filed the lawsuit, Trinity said her story had changed considerably over the years, and it promised to “fully and vigorously defend itself.” At Crouch’s deposition, Trinity painted her as a confused liar who may have invented the entire episode to rationalize her wayward behavior, and suggested that the lawsuit is part of an extortion plot to wring money out of Trinity.
Some background: Carra Crouch is the younger sister of Brittany Crouch Koper, Trinity’s former treasurer. Both are the daughters of Paul Crouch Jr., the eldest child of Trinity’s founders, Jan Crouch and the late Paul Crouch Sr.

In 2011, Brittany Crouch Koper accused her family of playing fast and loose with the ministry’s millions, and provided internal documents. Trinity, in turn, accused Koper and her husband of embezzling at least $1 million in their tenure on Trinity’s staff, and called their assertions “nothing more than a diversionary tactic from their own embezzlement, fraudulent actions, and deceit.”

That battle is ongoing in several courts, and is at the root of Carra Crouch’s claim, Trinity said in court documents.

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