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Ex-Worker Accusing TBN Pastor Says He Had Sex to Keep His Job

Ford believes a 1998 confidentiality deal has been broken. TBN officials deny claims.

September 22, 2004|William Lobdell | Times Staff Writer

Within weeks of the alleged Arrowhead encounter, Ford -- on probation for his previous offenses -- tested positive for cocaine and marijuana and was sent to jail. After he was released in early 1998, TBN officials refused to rehire him.

Ford threatened to file a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment but settled for $425,000. In exchange he also promised not to reveal what a later arbitrator's ruling described as "salacious" allegations.

TBN officials said Crouch reluctantly agreed to the settlement after advisors urged him to avoid a costly and sensational legal battle.

Despite the agreement, Ford threatened last year to publish a memoir that included the allegations, prompting a flurry of legal maneuvers conducted in closed court hearings that resulted in the judge's order barring Ford from disclosing his allegations and private arbitration that ended in a victory for TBN. In court filings, TBN depicted Ford as a penniless drug addict and sexual predator who was trying to extort $10 million from Crouch.

Ford and his attorney, Eugene V. Zech of Newport Beach, deny the extortion claims.

In June, a private arbitrator ruled that Ford could not publish the manuscript without violating the 1998 settlement agreement.

On Tuesday, TBN attorneys asked Judge Watson to keep The Times from publishing this story. Ministry lawyer John Casoria said it could cause "irreparable harm."

Watson agreed with The Times' attorney, Kelli L. Sager, that the 1st Amendment prevents the court from barring publication of an article.

After the hearing, Casoria said TBN may ask the judge to hold Ford in contempt of court for speaking publicly about the case.

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Times staff writer Claire Luna contributed to this report.

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