Oral Roberts University facing HUGE scandal

Read the university’s own internal report on the scandal for yourself, below, for all the juicy details. And more here from CBS News.

Scandal Vulnerability Assessment
Oral Roberts University, Oral Roberts Ministries
Original Draft Prepared by Stephanie Cantees

Investigation of potential areas of legal and/or financial issues in the university and ministry have yielded the following areas of potential vulnerability:

• As of 2003, Richard Roberts was compensated at the following levels — $181,469.00 in annual salary from ORU; in excess of $100,000 as Vice President of City Plex; and an additional $41,530/year from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. Additional incomes from “Make Your Day Count” could not be verified but are likely.

• According to the Draft report, Richard Roberts stated in a taped phone call, “I have the deck stacked — I am elected to three year terms and if a Regent appears to give me trouble, I remove him. I stack the deck….” (Draft report cites a numbered tape as documentation.)

• Richard Roberts receives complete housing benefits from the university which includes all associated costs: e.g., 13 internet/cable connections, wide-screen televisions, hot tubs, an Imperial Stove ($15,000), Washer/Dryers ($6,000), and all furnishings. The family selects furnishings for the home, the ministry then pays for the items and arranges for delivery.

• The Roberts home has been remodeled 11 times in the last 14 years. Each time, Mrs. Roberts demands more changes. During the most recent renovation, an $800 bathtub was installed for daughter Chloe.

• Dead bolt locks were installed on all bedroom doors at the insistence of the Roberts’ oldest daughter. This was precipitated by Mrs. Roberts repeatedly moving into the home her 16 year old male “friend,” which made her daughters uncomfortable.

• Photos exist of Mrs. Roberts and an underage male smoking at the President’s residence. (Draft report references front and rear photos of Richard Roberts’ residence with Mrs. Roberts and the young male smoking.)

• Richard Roberts sought approval from stakeholders for moving the underage male into the family residence.

• Mrs. Roberts has personally spent the night in the ORU guest house with an underage male on nine separate occasions. (Draft report references photos of these events as well as logs from security.) It is reported that this underage individual was allowed to stay in the university guest house unsupervised on numerous occasions. All living expenses for this individual were born by ORU/ORM — despite reported compliance prohibitions.

• Draft report references 29 distinct photos of Mrs. Roberts and an underage male alone in her sports car. Time stamps on the photos indicate that they were photographed after the citywide 10 p.m. curfew for minors not with their parents. In fact, all 29 photos were taken after midnight. The Draft report cites blog entries from current students confirming these meetings.

• Draft report cites statements by Victory Christian Students and past employees of VCS confirming Mrs. Roberts’ presence at the school in the presence of the underage male companion. Security tapes showed 81 visits to VCS by Mrs. Roberts and the underage male to the campus in 2004 alone.

• A longtime maintenance employee was summarily fired so that this same underage male companion could have his position. (Draft report cites a statement from current employee in confirmation of this assertion.)

• At ORUEF, Security removed three individuals for being intoxicated. Photos of the three show that one of the individuals was Mrs. Roberts’ “boy friend.” She ordered that Security ignore the infraction. (Draft report indicates existence of photos of Mrs. Roberts ordering security to ignore the drunken youth.)

• Richard Roberts ordered university employees to post a personal message for his daughter on the Mabee Center electronic marquee which read, “Matt, I’m sorry. Love, Chloe.” Mrs. Roberts called an unspecified vice president at 3:00 a.m. to demand the message be posted. (Draft report cites phone logs which show a total of seven demand calls being made to the same vice president that morning. Further, a dated and time-stamped copy of written orders from the same vice president to Mabee Center employees mandating that “Matt, I’m sorry, Love, Chloe” be immediately placed on the marquee.

• A total of 32 complaints were received from employees/public regarding the personal message placed on the Mabee Center marquee. The Roberts were warned of the legal implications of retaliation against employees expressing disapproval. (Draft report cites copies of phone records.)

• Tapes were produced of Chloe Roberts vandalizing and illegally removing athletic department equipment from university property. When confronted with the incriminating tape, Richard Roberts refused to address the issue. Roberts personally benefited from the property stolen, and the damage from the vandalization was billed to the university. (Draft report references the departmental video tape, two witnesses, and a statement from one of the other students involved.)

• University property — specifically golf carts — sustained serious damage at the hands of the Roberts’ children. Damages caused by the daughters was billed to the university.

• During Thanksgiving break, Mrs. Roberts repeatedly demanded searches of the Girls’ Dorms for illicit male visitors. Male students felt “set up” as their names were released. (Draft report indicates existence of signed affidavits by male students of university persecution.)

• Dormitories were modified for Roberts’ daughters’ exclusive use, and all costs passed on to the university.

• Mrs. Roberts provided a key to City Plex Towers, and authorized underaged students removal of furnishings from the Tower to private student apartments off campus.

• Richard Roberts’ 2,000 square foot home office was remodeled into a walk-in closet to accommodate the needs of Mrs. Roberts’ wardrobe. This wardrobe has been paid for by the television production cost center.

• Receipts for clothing are routinely handed to ORU/OREA staffers with orders to “cover the charges.” (Original draft notes an attached document reflecting $51,206.00 in clothing receipts) Staffers are under standing orders to modify records/cover purchases to make personal purchases appear to be business related.

• Richard Roberts’ current — and previous — personal vehicles were donated for University/Ministry use. No one outside the Roberts’ family ever used these vehicles. These vehicles are regularly washed, waxed, and cleaned by university employees. Further, all fuel is provided by the university at no charge to the president.

• Both Mrs. Roberts’ white Lexus SUV and her red Mercedes convertible are provided by ministry donors — including all insurance costs. The Mercedes was located online at a dealership in Atlanta. At the explicit direction of Richard Roberts, Ministry Security was flown to Atlanta to take possession of the vehicle and drive it back to Tulsa. (Original draft notes an attachment indicating the ministry department which paid for the plane ticket.)

• Automobiles driven by Mrs. Roberts and the families’ daughters are routinely washed, waxed, cleaned and fueled by university personnel. Richard Roberts makes token payment for compliance purposes.

• The University/Ministry pays for all the families’ home and cell phone without limits. (Original draft notes receipts in excess of $7,000 for phone expenses not including overseas cell expenses.)

• Cell phone bills for Mrs. Roberts and her daughters consistently run over $800/month — with an average of over 1,
000 text messages per month. (Original draft notes names of numbers of recipients of calls and texts.) Mrs. Roberts phone records indicate a large number of text messages sent between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Two underage males — one of whom Mrs. Roberts was seen alone with after 1 a.m. on 29 separate occasions. This evidence was posted on a student weblog and referenced in the original draft of this report. It should be noted that Tulsa has a 10:00 p.m. curfew for underage persons not in the company of their parents.

• Records indicate that Mrs. Roberts replaced 2I cell phones in a two year period. Fifteen of her bills during that period exceeded $800/month. Four months had text messages in excess of 800 — many of those texts from Mrs. Roberts were sent to underage males — often between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. — who had been provided phones at university expense.

• Draft report documents that university employees were required to express mail “daily care packages” to underage male at retreat in Missouri. (Statements from former employees is cited as supporting documentation.) One of these “care packages” contained a new cell phone which was billed to Mrs. Roberts’ account.

• Richard Roberts asked stakeholders to permit Mrs. Roberts’ male friend to reside in their home when questions arose concerning his use of the guest house.

• The university provides and stocks a commercial soda machine in the garage of the Roberts’ home — with all expenses being borne by the university.

• Meals are routinely prepared by a professional chef, compensated through the television cost center, and delivered to the house for “testing.” Roberts makes token payment to satisfy dictates of compliance.

• University and Ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts’ home to do the daughters’ homework. (Original draft notes security records, photos and statements to support this contention.) The daughters take the homework completed by the employees, copy the work, and submit it to Victory Christian School as their own work. (Original draft refers to a transcript of a phone call where Mrs. Roberts personally arranges for employees to assist the daughters with homework.)

• The Roberts’ daughters were “home schooled.” Their teacher was on the ORM payroll for over five years. Classes were held in ORU/ORM properly which had been classified as a “guest house” for IRS purposes. (According to the Draft report, the property had been fully converted to a school house as verified by photos of the property.) Although no guests ever stayed in the home, all expenses for operation and maintenance were borne by the university.

• The university owns an airplane which is currently used for mostly personal purposes.

• Richard Roberts maintains complete, total control of the university’s airplane and who becomes a passenger on the plane. No other vice president or regent has any access to this university asset. In fact, individuals have asked to rent the plane — fully reimbursing ORU for costs — and have consistently been refused.

• There are numerous examples of commercial airline tickets being purchased despite space being available on the private jet going to the same destination. Mr. Roberts is highly selective about who he allows on the plane. Space is especially limited if family friends happen to be passengers — personal passengers always take precedence over ORU/ORM employees.

• The university jet was used to take one daughter — with several of her friends –on a Senior Trip to Orlando, Florida, and the Bahamas. The Bahamas portion of the trip was spent at the luxurious Atlantis hotel and resort. This trip was billed to the Ministry as an “Evangelistic function of the President.” (Original draft notes lodging bills from Orlando which included charges for liquor and supplemented with a signed statement from one of the students on the trip.) Photos of the trip show the plane to be full of non-ministry students, and the parents of the other students were reportedly told that this was the daughter’s “senior trip.” The university was billed $29,411.00 for the costs of this “senior trip.”

• During this same trip, the Ministry had need to fly Roberts’ pianist for an event at a local church in Orlando. The only ministry employee on the trip had to fly commercial airlines because the university plane was full of guests on “senior trips.”

• When the older daughter graduated, Mrs. Roberts refused to allow her to attend the Victory Christian School Senior Trip. By coincidence, the university plane just happened to be in the same city at the same time as the Victory seniors — allowing the daughter to participate in the Senior Trip but with the costs being borne by the university. Apparently, Richard Roberts will book a speaking engagement in the city the daughters wish to visit and then bill the university for the cost of the trip. (Original draft indicates existence of student statements, copies of retained memorabilia, photos of the plane/trip, and receipts from resorts in the selected cities. Further, original draft notes a van rental receipt on one of these trip in the name of Oral Roberts Ministries.)

• The Roberts flew the ministry plane to Florida on December 26th, staying at the posh Breakers Hotel. (Draft reports cites existence of photos of non-university guests in rooms with meal/room charges paid by ORU/ORM credit cards.) All vehicle rentals were charged to ORU. This was cited as another example of a single speaking event in Florida being used to cover volitional travel for multiple persons. Once again, Mrs. Roberts didn’t even attend the service which justified the travel expenditure.

• Roberts routinely visits his father in Newport Beach, California, and bills the costs of the trip to the university. (Original draft included names, dates, photos, costs of vacation villas, and receipts for rental vans/cars — all billed to Oral Roberts University and Oral Roberts Ministries.) On one trip, which lasted fourteen days, Richard Roberts visited Oral only four times, yet billed the entire cost of the trip to the University/Ministry. .

• On several speaking engagements in Dallas, Texas, Mrs. Roberts accompanied her husband. In each instance, multiple vehicles were rented by the couple and charged to the University/Ministry. Records indicate that Mrs. Roberts did not attend any of the meetings conducted by Richard Roberts. (Original draft notes several photos showing Mrs. Roberts shopping with numerous guests.) Four photos clearly show Mrs. Roberts with a young, blond male which her own sister referred to as “her boy friend.”).

• Mrs. Roberts routinely has ORM provide her with security personnel as protection while on personal vacations. On one occasion, Mrs. Roberts took one of her daughters and “a male companion” on an overnight trip to Branson. All charges for transportation, lodging and meals were paid by ORU/ORM. (Original draft references receipts for clothing dubbed “TV wardrobe, Branson, Missouri.”)

• According to the Draft report, nine separate statements were collected which quote Mrs. Roberts as saying, “As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off…” Draft notes inconsistencies in expense account between reported TV clothing, and actual TV usage. (Draft cites photos of closets by Chloe’s friends of clothes with tags charged to TV account — cell phone photos were circulating among her friends.)

• Mrs. Roberts spent over $39,000 at one clothing store alone — Chico’s — in less than one year. Employees in the ministry assert that other accounts exist for stores in Texas and California which greatly add to the total.

• Mrs. Roberts ordered that her children be paid $200/song on the television show. One random student was found to pay the same rate, so as to justify the amount paid her children.

• The Roberts’ daughters are allowed to use Oral Roberts’ home in the compound for
a token payment.

• ORU/ORM maintains a stable of horses for the exclusive use of the Roberts’ children. All costs associated with this stable are borne by the university.

• ORU/ORM Security personnel are routinely used by the family to fetch groceries, hair bows and accessories, family meals, and even undergarments for the girls — all while on the university payroll.

• Mrs. Roberts personally awarded thirteen non-academic, non-need-based scholarships exclusively to friends of her children. Two of the recipients scored 12’s on the ACT, making them academically ineligible for admission to the university. When informed that the two students with 12’s on the ACT could be admitted contingently and put into the Bridge program, Mrs. Roberts demanded that they be admitted without condition and that the questioning employee be fired. (Original draft references affidavit and copies of all transcripts of students awarded scholarships. Additionally, copies of awards for fulI room, board, and tuition scholarships, bearing Mrs. Roberts signature, were attached.)

• Mrs. Roberts was informed that these unilateral scholarship awards might constitute inurement, as she often received significant “thank you” gifts from the recipients or their parents. The unfortunate aspect of these scholarship awards to questionable students was the depletion of limited resources to fund the educations of more worthy candidates.

• After awarding the thirteen full academic scholarships to friends of the family, Mrs. Roberts established the “Make Your Day” scholarship. This financial aid was advertised as serving needy students. As before, Mrs. Roberts selected the recipients from a pool of mostly friends of the family.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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