A county judge said Monday that the ministry of televangelist Joyce Meyer must publicly release the employment records of a former security chief accused of killing his wife and two sons.
Joyce Meyer Ministries had requested that the 400 pages of documents sought in the case against 32-year-old Christopher Coleman be kept confidential, fearing that their release could compromise the privacy of the alleged killer and others who still work at the St. Louis-based ministry.
But after hearing the ministry's argument, Judge Andrew Gleeson declared, "We are a society where courts are open," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"We have nothing to hide," responded Michael King, the lawyer for the ministry.
The confidentiality "is to protect my client from other litigation,'' he clarified, saying the employment documents are confidential under Missouri law. The attorney also said the disclosure of Meyer's flight manifests is a "security concern" because the popular life coach is a "national figure," as reported by the Post-Dispatch.
Joyce Meyer Ministries had been named as one of the "respondents in discovery" in the lawsuit against Christopher Coleman, who has been charged with the first-degree murders of his wife and two sons.
Coleman was working as a security guard for Joyce Meyer Ministries until he resigned not long after his family was found dead in his home on May 5.
According to investigators, Coleman had called police from a gym that day and asked a police officer who had investigated prior threats related to the family to check on them after calls to the house allegedly went unanswered.
When police got to the house later that morning, they found the bodies of Coleman's 31-year-old wife, Sheri, and children, 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin, all strangled with some type of wire, rope or cord. Spray-painted across the walls of the house, meanwhile, were obscenities that appeared to have been directed at Sheri Coleman, including the words "punished," "wh*re paid," "u have paid," and "I saw you leave, [expletive] you, I am always watching."
Though some of the Colemans' neighbors said the family had received threatening letters and that their mailbox was tampered with, police arrested Coleman around two weeks later after more evidence came forward.
The week before, Coleman had resigned from his position at Joyce Meyer Ministries after being questioned about a violation of the organization's moral conduct policy, according to Roby Walker, a spokesman for Joyce Meyer.
Walker would not say what policy Coleman allegedly violated but reports have alleged that he was romantically involved with a woman from Largo, Fla., and had visited her while traveling with the ministry.
Coleman, who pleaded "not guilty" on May 20, has since remained in jail and denied bond by the judge.