TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) - Oral Roberts University reached a settlement Wednesday with two former professors who sued last year, claiming they were forced out after uncovering financial and ethical wrongdoing by the conservative Christian school's former president and family.
The confidential settlement with Tim and Paulita Brooker came at the end of a court-ordered mediation session and helps bring to a close the scandal that engulfed the evangelical school, founded in the 1960s by televangelist Oral Roberts, and led to the resignation of his son, Richard, as president.
Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, were accused of using university money for shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters at a time when ORU was more than $50 million in debt. Both have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The Brookers also had named the Robertses, former school regents and officials in the October 2007 wrongful termination lawsuit.
“After a year in limbo, it's nice to have some resolution to this,” Tim Brooker said Wednesday. He could not discuss the terms of the agreement or say whether he would return to the school.
According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, attorneys for the Brookers had asked the school for $2.5 million to settle their portion of the lawsuit this spring. That deal appeared to fizzle.
During the summer, both sides began deposing witnesses in preparation for a trial. A preliminary witness list filed by the plaintiffs contained 125 names, including U.S. senators, local political figures and several televangelists.
In January, the school settled out of court with professor John Swails, who brought the lawsuit along with the Brookers. That confidential agreement resulted in Swails' reinstatement at ORU.
In a statement read by his attorney, Richard Roberts said: “The university decided to settle the lawsuit with the Brookers, and I support the university. I cannot comment any further at this time.”
The school's interim president, Ralph Fagin, said the school was pleased to have the matter behind it.
Gary Richardson, an attorney for the Brookers, said, “I'm happy to see the Brookers be able to put this behind them so they can go on with their lives, and of course I'm happy to see it as well for the university.”
Richardson also announced Wednesday that he now represents Stephanie Cantees, Richard Roberts' sister-in-law, who prepared a report detailing the Roberts family's problems. A copy of the report was given to Tim Brooker by a student.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.