Warning, possible triggers below
The Trinity Broadcasting Network has withstood a lot of blows over the years--in no small part because of its close ties to the religious right. However, a recently-filed lawsuit could potentially bring this evil empire down for good. Carra Crouch, the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is suing her grandparents and TBN for sweeping a horrific allegation of child abuse under the rug.
Carra claims that back in 2006, when she was only 13 years old, she was raped by then-TBN employee Stephen L. Smith in an Atlanta hotel room. Carra was in town for TBN's spring telethon.
During the telethon one night, Smith visited Carra Crouch in her hotel room to discuss the telethon and other company matters, then ordered a bottle of wine, according to the lawsuit, which also says Trinity makes it a practice to supply alcohol to employees during business meetings.Carra was so horrified by the incident that she flew back to California the next day. On her mother's advice, she reported the incident to her grandmother. However, Jan Crouch went into a screaming fit, telling her that it was her fault. She then tried to tell TBN general counsel John Casoria, who had sat in on the meeting. However, Casoria not only said he didn't believe her either, but suggested she'd brought it on herself because she was already sexually active.
According to the lawsuit, Smith coerced her into drinking the wine, which made her intoxicated. She says in the lawsuit that she asked Smith to leave the room, and that he offered her a glass of water to help her feel better. When she drank it, she immediately passed out, according to the lawsuit.
She believes the water contained a date rape drug which caused her to pass out. When she awoke the next morning, she says Smith was laying next to her, and there was blood on her bed sheets. She also claims to have had "severe pain and soreness in her body in places which indicated she had been molested and raped."
Now here's where it gets hideous. According to the suit, it turned out that the Crouches and Casoria actually did believe Carra, and fired Smith over the phone the next day. Reportedly, Casoria told Smith there was enough evidence to press criminal charges. However, neither the Crouches nor Casoria reported the incident to police. Under California law, as ordained ministers they were required to report it. Instead, they offered to sweep it under the rug if Smith didn't file unemployment, worker's comp or an EEOC claim.
Carra first told her story to The Orange County Register, and is understandably shaken up by the whole experience.
The Register does not usually identify victims of sexual assault, but Carra Crouch wants to tell her story so justice can be done, she said.I don't blame her. The fact that a supposed "man and woman of God" acted this way is bad enough, but the fact that these were her grandparents makes it several times worse. It's a big reason that I'm fighting back tears even as I type this.
She didn’t cry when recounting the sequence of events that night, but she did cry when she recounted the aftermath. “I definitely feel angry,” she said. “Nobody once asked me, ‘Carra are you O.K.?’ Why didn’t anybody care? If I saw something like that happen to a little girl, even if I didn’t know her, I would do something. And I’m their granddaughter. How could you just not care all?”
I've watched TBN for laughs over the years, but this is not even close to being a laughing matter. I say again--if this story is even half true, this should be the end of TBN.
2:51 PM PT: Find out where TBN airs in your area here. Also, since TBN owns and operates all of its stations, the best way to go after them is to pressure the many preachers who air on it to take their programming elsewhere. Here's a list of them.