updated 8:03 p.m. ET, Wed., Aug. 13, 2008
TULSA, Oklahoma – The former president of an Oklahoma university founded by televangelist Oral Roberts, who stepped down amid allegations he misspent school funds to live in luxury, was offered a severance package but officials would not divulge its terms.
Roberts’ son, televangelist Richard Roberts, resigned from Oral Roberts University in November.
He and his wife, Lindsay, were accused of dropping money on 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.
In her 1983 memoir, “Ashes to Gold,” Richard Roberts’ first wife, Patti, documented the jet-set lifestyle: a blue Mercedes as a Christmas gift for Richard, a Jaguar for her, Italian suits and Palm Beach vacations.
“We lived like characters in a novel or a made-for-TV movie about the beautiful people and I reveled in it,” she wrote. “Having made a truce, albeit an uneasy one, with my conscience over the source of our wealth, I proceeded to enjoy its prerogatives with total abandon.”
One person who says she observed the Roberts’s profligate spending up-close is Suzanne Culpepper. After hearing news of the lawsuit, she decided to come forward to recount her time working as a nanny for the Robertses one summer in the late 1980s, when she was an ORU student. Fed up with hearing the Robertses complain about the university’s financial hardship at the time, she snooped around their walk-in closet one night while the couple was out and the kids were asleep. It was “bigger than the one-bedroom apartment I live in now,” says Culpepper. She counted 275 pairs of shoes for Lindsay, all arranged by color, three rows of dresses and “tons of jewelry.” On Richard’s side, there were 160 suits, 454 ties and 18 pairs of golf shoes. (A university spokesman declined to respond to a request for comment on Culpepper’s description.) “I had a righteous anger to an injustice,” she says. “It is so sad that people have been misled, but the truth is coming out.” Until the Robertses get a chance to respond with their own version of events, they’re surely praying as fervently as ever.
updated 8:01 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct. 5, 2007
TULSA, Okla. – Twenty years ago, televangelist Oral Roberts said he was reading a spy novel when God appeared to him and told him to raise $8 million for Roberts’ university, or else he would be “called home.”
Now, his son, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, says God is speaking again, telling him to deny lurid allegations in a lawsuit that threatens to engulf this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal.
Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors’ expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.