A former employee at Daystar Television Network has filed a lawsuit against televangelist Marcus Lamb, claiming fraud and defamation.
Jeanette Hawkins, former director of marketing, says in the lawsuit that her employers egregiously misrepresented themselves and that she was pressured to participate in the cover-up of an extramarital affair between Lamb and another employee.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, a day after Lamb and his wife, Joni, revealed to the public that he was involved in an "improper" relationship "several years ago."
They told viewers during their "Celebration" TV program that they were not trying to excuse sin but rather to "celebrate the goodness and the grace of God" that helped them through the challenge.
"He (God) has healed our marriage," said Lamb, who took 100 percent responsibility for the affair (not even blaming the devil).
During the hour-long live broadcast, the couple also revealed that three people that they claim were not involved or affected by the marital challenge threatened to take the affair to the media unless they were paid $7.5 million.
Hawkins alleges in her lawsuit that the extortion claim is false. The three unnamed persons that the Lambs referred to are three former employees – including Hawkins – who were filing their pleadings in courts of law, according to the lawsuit.
The former marketing director alleges that she was falsely described in Tuesday's broadcast as "doing a work of the Devil, trying to take others' pain and turn it into her gain, threatening to go to the media with humiliating information if money was not paid to her, and improperly trying to induce Defendants to pay 'God's money' to her."
"These statements ... were intentionally calculated to be, and were in fact, taken by the listeners as affirmative statements that Plaintiff Jeanette Hawkins was attempting to commit extortion. All of the statements are false and defamatory."
Fred Kendall, who had counseled the Lambs through the marital challenge, repeated during Tuesday's show that the ordeal was all a "direct attack from the devil" who wants to destroy the ministry and the Lambs.
"I suggested that you (Lamb) keep it very private because the devil wants to embarrass the body of Christ by making a big publicity by people in leadership," said Kendall. "You needed private time to heal."
Since the discovery of the affair in 2007, Hawkins said she experienced "severe emotional trauma" to the point where she became suicidal and was involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
The affair was brought to her attention by another employee who discovered emails between Lamb and another employee.
According to the lawsuit, the revelation was "utterly devastating" to Hawkins, who had made it clear before accepting employment at Daystar in 2005 that the moral integrity of the organization and her employers was very important.
She was allegedly told by the Lambs that Daystar was operated in conformity to the highest standards of Christian behavior. They also made specific references to chastity, modesty and purity.
Hawkins resigned in 2008.
On Tuesday, Joni Lamb told viewers that "this is not a secret story that we've been hiding, rather a private matter from which we have been healing."
She assured viewers that their marriage is strong and "better today than it has ever been."
Marcus Lamb, meanwhile, said he had made himself accountable to Joni's parents and other staff.