Joyce Meyer Ministries has defended itself against allegations that it was in any way responsible for the deaths of a former employee's family. A legal representative for the ministry made the assertions to a judge on Wednesday at Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo.
"He did a terrible thing, but it had nothing to do with Joyce Meyer," said Mike King, a lawyer working for Joyce Meyer Ministries, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The case concerns Christopher Coleman, the ministry's former bodyguard and security chief, who orchestrated a six-month plot where he allegedly sent death threats to his own family to try and create the persona of a "deranged phantom killer." On May 5, 2009, the bodies of his wife and two pre-teen sons were found dead in their home in Columbia, Ill. Two years later, Coleman was convicted of three counts of first degree murder.
Joyce Meyer Ministries is now asking for a wrongful death suit against it to be thrown out, insisting that it should not be forced to take any of the blame for the horrific incident.
The family of the victims, however, is saying that Coleman's employers should have known he was sending the letters, and they should have warned Sheri Coleman about her husband's unstable condition.
Christopher Coleman was also reportedly having an affair, which authorities have said may have been a factor in the murders. It has been suggested that he wanted to avoid divorce by killing his family so he could start a new life with his partner in Florida.
Rebekah L. Williams, a Chicago lawyer representing Sheri Coleman's family claimed: "They inserted themselves into this situation and then did nothing."
Joyce Meyer Ministries is countering that argument however, by suggesting that even if the ministry was fully aware of Coleman's unstable state and had removed him from his position, the outcome still would have been the same.
"If we fired him and he went home and killed his wife and children, we'd be here right now," King said.
The lawyer added that the Ministry had done all that it could to help with the situation, including providing counseling to Sheri Coleman after she first came to them to talk about her troubled marriage.
Williams insisted, however, that after being made aware of these problems, the ministry had a duty to do more to try and prevent the situation from getting worse.
The Joyce Meyer Ministries legal defense team countered that by noting that they had indeed notified police, and a surveillance camera had even been set up to monitor the Coleman home, but unfortunately that had not been enough to prevent the murder.
King insisted the ministry did all it could. He stressed that police were notified of the threats against the family - and a surveillance camera had even been set up to monitor the Coleman home.
"And of course there's no case like this in any court of law," Judge Richard Aguirre said, noting that this was a unique case and there wasn't a comparable one out there to draw precedent from.
Meyer is a Charismatic Christian author and speaker whose ministry is headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton, Missouri.