Not the Devil's Work: Ex-Employee Accuses Christian Broadcaster Daystar of Defamation

Late last year, you may recall the excitement surrounding the Christian TV mega-network Daystar, whose co-founder Marcus Lamb announced on the air that he'd had an affair with one of his employees. Three ex-employees, he said, were trying to extort $7.5 million from Lamb and his wife Joni, threatening to go public with news of the affair.

The next day, ex-Daystar employee Jeanette Hawkins filed suit against the broadcaster, saying she was shocked to discover Lamb's affair taking place within the wholesome Christian workplace she thought she'd been working in. Two days later, Daystar countersued Hawkins, along with two other ex-employees, Karen Thompson and Jennifer Falcon, claiming they were extorting the couple -- even though they previously hadn't been named.

And, save for a Daystar downsizing announcement last week, then things were pretty quiet -- until today, when Thompson, a former producer on Daystar's The Joni Show, filed a complaint against Daystar in Dallas federal court, accusing the company of defamation and saying she was wrongly terminated.

According to the complaint, which follows, Thompson joined Daystar in 2002, and by early last year she'd struck up a romantic relationship with a co-worker -- "not prohibited by any policy of Daystar," the suit says.

In January 2010, though, Joni Lamb told Thompson to end the relationship, saying, according to the suit, "that she had 'shamed' both Daystar and Joni Lamb, called [Thompson] a 'liar' and a 'bad example' and told [Thompson] that she was 'unhealthy.'" Thompson also alleges Joni Lamb asked "explicit and inappropriate" questions about the relationship.

Update at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday: Daystar, through its legal representatives, has emailed Unfair Park a response to the litigation filed Monday in Dallas federal court. It reads in full:

Ms. Thompson's claims are without merit, and in its answer to this lawsuit, Daystar will say that Ms. Thompson initiated a relationship with another employee, who was under her supervision and approximately 15 years younger. She was repeatedly told that the relationship was incompatible with her leadership position at Daystar. Unfortunately, she refused to end this disruptive relationship, becoming increasingly resentful and disruptive over time, leading to her termination.

After Thompson refused to end her relationship, the suit goes on, she was fired. The man she'd been seeing, though, "was neither demoted nor fired."

The suit -- filed by attorney James Fisher, who also filed Hawkins's complaint -- then goes on to paint a much richer picture of sexual misconduct at Daystar, including Marcus Lamb's "illicit relationship with a female Vice President," and accusations of sexual harassment by Joni Lamb's father Bill Trammell.

In each case, the complaint says, the male employee was never demoted or fired for their conduct.

The suit goes on to accuse Daystar of defaming Thompson, claiming in the press -- on Daystar, as well as on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil -- that those three ex-employees were doing the work of "the Devil," and attempting to extort money from the church.

According to this suit, Marcus and Joni Lamb deliberately described Thompson, Falcon and Hawkins as criminal extortionists being investigated by law enforcement, even though Fisher, their attorney, was the one who'd approached the Lambs about the suit.

Karen Thompson v. Daystar Complaint

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Patrick Michels
Contact: Patrick Michels