Judge issues gag order in ORU case

Friday, January 11th 2008, 10:31 pm
By: News 9


A judge issued a gag order on Friday in a lawsuit filed by two former Oral Roberts University professors.

 The suit names the school and former president Richard Roberts. Attorneys for ORU asked for the gag order, saying the attorneys for the fired professors were tainting the potential jury pool by talking to the media. The development came one day after a third fired professor settled with the university and is back on campus.

John Swails, Tim Brooker and his wife Paulita Brooker filed the lawsuit, claiming they were fired by the school after revealing the university's role in Tulsa's 2006 mayoral race. They said they had documented evidence of moral and ethical problems by then school president Richard Roberts and his family. Late Thursday night, Swails and the university settled. Terms have not been made public, but Swails is allowed back on campus.

"He's a good teacher and I haven't ever heard anything bad about him. All the students love him," ORU junior Sam Dyk said.

Attorneys for Tim and Paulita Brooker, citing Friday morning's gag order, said they couldn't say if they were also looking to settle their lawsuit.

Students on campus who said they hope the Brookers do reach a settlement and return to ORU.

"I really do, I would love to see them back. Tim is a really great guy, he's a really great professor, I've had him for several classes and it would really good to see him back," said ORU senior Justin Van Dyke.

ORU's attorneys asked the judge for the gag order, saying they're worried about comments made to Tulsa media by the professor's attorney, Gary Richardson.

The judge agreed, but added appearances such as the one by Richard and Lindsey Roberts on Larry King Live could also influence the jury pool. So he barred everyone involved from talking about the case outside the courtroom. On campus, many students said the gag order may not make a difference.

"I feel like people are going to believe what they're going to believe. I mean, it seems like everybody who thinks that president Roberts is innocent they'll still think that. And everyone who thinks he's guilty still thinks he's guilty. I really don't think it does a whole lot," said ORU junior Marissa Ranberger.

The university released a statement late Friday afternoon welcoming Swails back to campus, saying he would continue his teaching duties. Also this week, Benny Hinn and I.V. Hilliard resigned from the university's board of regents. Two others, Jesse Duplantis and Creflo Dollar, resigned from the board last month.