A granddaughter of Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of the flock-fleecing Trinity Broadcasting Network, says the company is covering up her rape at the hands of an employee when she was 13 years old.
Carra Crouch, now 19, filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on June 18 alleging that in April 2006 she was raped in an Atlanta hotel room by Stephen L. Smith, a 30-year-old TBN employee at the time.
The lawsuit alleges battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, and is one of several court cases in which Trinity is mired.
Carra Crouch’s attorney is Michael Koper, the husband of Brittany Koper, who blew the whistle on alleged financial misdeeds and sexual harassment within the company. Brittany Koper is Carra Crouch’s older sister. Michael Koper used to work for Trinity and has been accused by the company of financial misdeeds when he was employed there.
According to Carra Crouch’s lawsuit, Jan Crouch had invited her to be a guest on a fundraising “telethon” for the network, and the company paid for her airplane ticket and stay at the hotel.
During the telethon one night, Smith visited Carra Crouch in her hotel room to discuss the telethon and other company matters, then ordered a bottle of wine, according to the lawsuit, which also says Trinity makes it a practice to supply alcohol to employees during business meetings.
According to the lawsuit, Smith coerced her into drinking the wine, which made her intoxicated. She says in the lawsuit that she asked Smith to leave the room, and that he offered her a glass of water to help her feel better. When she drank it, she immediately passed out, according to the lawsuit.
She believes the water contained a date rape drug which caused her to pass out. When she awoke the next morning, she says Smith was laying next to her, and there was blood on her bed sheets. She also claims to have had “severe pain and soreness in her body in places which indicated she had been molested and raped.”
Carra Crouch then locked herself in the bathroom and screamed at Smith to leave her room, which he eventually did, the lawsuit says. Later that day, she flew home to California, according to the lawsuit.
Distraught over the incident, Carra Crouch was advised by her mother to inform Jan Crouch and Trinity attorney John Casoria, who also is an ordained minister and a nephew of Paul and Jan.
A meeting took place at the Crouch family mansion in Newport Beach, where, according to the lawsuit, Jan “became furious and began screaming at Ms. Crouch,” and began telling her “it is your fault.”
Carra Crouch alleges that after the screaming fit thrown by Jan, she approached Casoria, who allegedly became agitated with the 13-year-old, said he didn’t believe her, and suggested that she was already sexually active “so it did not really matter,” and she “may have propositioned him.”
Still, Carra Crouch says Paul, Jan and Casoria actually did believe her accusations, and fired Smith the next working day. She also believes her grandparents and Casoria hid their belief in her accusations so they could “cover up” the incident and make sure it was never reported to the police or to the media.
According to the lawsuit, Casoria fired Smith over the telephone, saying it was a decision by Paul Crouch, that it would be without cause even though Trinity had enough evidence to terminate him with cause, and there was probably enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Smith.
Carra Crouch also alleges that Trinity offered to not disclose the evidence to the police if Smith would not file for unemployment, worker’s compensation or an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim.
The lawsuit also says the Crouches and Casoria, as ordained ministers, were mandated reporters under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.
According to Carra Crouch, none of them made any report of the alleged rape, and she was not allowed to speak with the police or seek counseling from sex abuse therapists.
Michael Koper granted the Weekly, which has requested comment from Carra Crouch, permission to use his client’s name in this story.
“We’re really not saying anything,” Koper said. “The complaint speaks for itself.”
Carra Crouch did tell the Orange County Register, which first reported on the lawsuit, that she feels angry, and “Nobody once asked me, ‘Carra are you O.K.?'”
Colby May, the attorney for Trinity, said in an email that to his knowledge, Trinity has not been served with the complaint.
“However, based on the document others in the media have sent me, Trinity vehemently denies the allegations and believes them to be without merit and baseless,” May said. “Also, the allegations made in the Complaint materially differs from the version Ms. Carra Crouch has reported to third-parties, and is completely at odds with what she told her mother and Trinity at the time. The multiple versions undermine Ms. Crouch’s credibility, and support the position that Trinity has certainly done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, such meritless lawsuits have become commonplace in our society, and accordingly, Trinity will fully and vigorously defend itself.”
May went on to say that Carra Crouch appears to be a pawn in the larger vendetta of her older sister, Brittany Koper, and Michael Koper, whom he says were fired from Trinity and its related ministry, International Christian Broadcasters “when it was discovered they had embezzled and misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house and investment condo, among other things, and they have been vainly trying to divert attention from their wrongs ever since.”
“This is truly tragic, and is now made more so by the Kopers’ calculated use of Ms. Crouch,” May said.