A lawsuit recently filed by the former head of finance for the Trinity Broadcasting Network claims that the directors of the widely-viewed Christian television network have illegally taken advantage of more than $50 million in "charitable assets" for their own good.
Brittany B. Koper, granddaughter to TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, previously served as the chief financial officer, director of finance, corporate treasurer and director of human resources for Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, which conducts business as TBN. Tymothy MacLeod, Koper's attorney in the lawsuit, believes that what Koper has revealed explains a lot about the Crouch family's spending habits.
"Observers have often wondered how the Crouches can afford multiple mansions on both coasts, a $50 million jet and chauffeurs," MacLeod said, according to The Orange County Register. "And finally, with the CFO coming forward, we have answers to those questions."
Koper is not suing TBN, however. These allegations are part of a lawsuit against her former attorneys from the Long Beach law office of Davert & Loe – Douglass S. Davert, David C. Loe and Benjamin N. Flint III. She is accusing these attorneys, who also do some work for TBN, of breach of duties, inflicting emotional distress and professional negligence.
After Koper took charge of TBN's finance department, she allegedly discovered illegal financial practices on the part of the company's directors, but was told to protect the information.
"Following her appointment, Ms. Koper was specifically instructed to falsify public financial disclosures, to falsify government records, and to otherwise cover up conduct of the TBN Companies and their directors that Ms. Koper reasonably believed to be unlawful," the suit claims.
When she approached the defendant attorneys about the situation, they allegedly advised and encouraged her to do as she was told, and said she "really [had] no choice in the matter."
The suit says Koper was pressured by TBN's directors and senior executives, who told her she could be arrested if she tried to report any illegal financial practices. When she sought the help of the attorneys regarding what she had been told, they allegedly agreed and said she would be considered an "accomplice" and discouraged her from sharing any information.
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She eventually reported the issues and was fired from TBN, the suit claims. It also says her husband, Michael Koper, who served as the corporate secretary and vice president of media services for TBN, was fired as a result.
When Koper questioned Matthew Crouch, a TBN director, about the firing, Crouch allegedly began tapping on a gun he had with him and continued to do so "to ensure that Ms.Koper recognized the lethal threat being made," the suit says.
After her termination, Koper continued to seek the advice of the lawyers, who claimed she was "just as guilty" as the TBN board of directors even though she claims to have only followed their legal advice all along.
She was told that she should "seek spiritual and financial contrition" from the directors by returning all the income and property she obtained during her employment with TBN. She was also told to ask for the "Christian sympathy" of TBN's directors.
Koper allegedly caved in to threats of jail time within six weeks of losing her job, after which she and her husband turned over their home, car, life insurance, jewelry and even home furnishings to her former employer. The Kopers moved to New York to live with Michael's father in early October 2011.
Davert says the accusations brought against him and the other lawyers at his firm are "outright fiction and wholly without merit," the OC Register reports.
Last year, while Davert & Loe were still representing Koper in another trial and advising her on how to handle her former employers, they formed a new corporation on Oct. 17 called Redemption Strategies and sued Koper. They claimed she and her husband forged documents and misappropriated funds in the amount of about $400,000 while with TBN, and the lawsuit was dismissed without settlement in January.
MacLeod believes Koper's former attorneys sued her in an effort to "preemptively discredit" her and her husband for making the alleged misdeeds of TBN, as well as those of Davert & Loe, known.
In addition to these claims, Koper also says Loe sexually assaulted her.
Koper is seeking at least $2.5 million in damages in the suit, including over half a million dollars for what she and her husband allegedly returned to TBN after they were fired. Her attorney, MacLeod, also told the OC Register that Koper is preparing a package of documents regarding her charges that she will submit to the Internal Revenue Service for review.
Barry Bowen contributed to this report.