Daystar Television Network is pushing back against allegations made by three former employees whom the company says are trying to profit from the founder's extramarital affair that was kept secret until recently.
On Friday, the Christian broadcast company filed a lawsuit in Texas State County Court in Tarrant County, claiming that the former employees are trying to "injure the reputation and business interests of Daystar."
Daystar's lawsuit is in response to a petition filed by Dallas attorney James Fisher on behalf of Jeanette Hawkins, former marketing director at Daystar.
Hawkins is suing the company over an extramarital affair, involving Daystar founder and influential televangelist Marcus Lamb and another woman, that took place several years ago. She claims that she suffered severe emotional trauma because of the egregious misrepresentations made to her by her employers and because she was pressured to participate in the cover-up of the affair.
She also alleges in her lawsuit that she was falsely described by Daystar as extorting money from the company.
The television network contends that Hawkins' petition contains numerous false and misleading allegations, including the claim that Daystar purchased a home for the other woman to keep her quiet.
"The truth is that Hawkins has spun a web of deceit to the media via the Dallas court filing in the hope that her baseless filing will detract from her leading role in the plot to extort Daystar and her related breaches of fiduciary and common law duties," Daystar's lawsuit states.
Fighting back, the company firstly notes that before the public announcement on Tuesday, the affair was only known by a few individuals – namely those involved in the healing process of Lamb and his wife, Joni's, marriage – and that others learned about the matter through "improper and illegal means."
According to Hawkins, a fellow employee had revealed to her that he found emails proving that Lamb and another employee were having an illicit sexual relationship.
Secondly, the company contends that Hawkins and two other former employees named in the lawsuit "schemed to use the Lambs' ordeal to their financial benefit."
And they had "one goal in mind: personal profit at the expense of Daystar," Daystar argues.
In mid-November, attorney Fisher met with Daystar's outside counsel, John T. Lynch, IV, threatening to go public with the affair if Daystar did not pay $7.5 million by the first of December, according to the lawsuit.
"Defendants' conduct constitutes, at a minimum, extortion," Daystar contends.
During a live broadcast of the "Celebration" program on Tuesday, the Lambs told millions of viewers that there were three people who were not involved or affected by their marital challenge that said they would go to the media with the affair if they were not paid.
It was during that broadcast that the Lambs revealed for the first time that Marcus was involved in an "improper" relationship with another woman. Joni made clear that it was not a secret they were hiding, but rather a private matter from which they were healing. They also assured viewers that they went through a process of repentance, forgiveness and healing and that their marriage is now better than ever.
According to Daystar's public relations team, A. Larry Ross Communications, Fisher revised the petition on Friday to remove some of the "incendiary" allegations, including the purchase of the home of the third party.
"This demonstrates that, without knowing their veracity, they were willing to send out allegations of fact to the media, knowing that subsequent news reports would take those allegations to the public," the PR firm stated.
"The ministry and Mr. Lamb dispute the allegations in both of Ms. Hawkins' petitions and will vigorously defend themselves against these harmful mistruths, seeking all remedies available to them in the legal system."