The final tally is in from my legal team.Ã‚ In court documents just filed in Orange County, California my legal team has petitioned the court for a payment of $254,302.58 from CRI and Hank Hanegraaff personally to cover my expenses in their ill-advised defamation law suit they lost against me.
It also turns out that my initial article about a criminal probe against Hanegraaff and CRI was entirely accurate at the time it was written.
If the court approves this amount -- and they have already ordered Hanegraaff and CRI to pay my legal bills, Hank Hanegraaff and CRI will have to *immediately* pay this amount. This is a hefty sum indeed, especially when considering that the decision to file a law suit against me was apparently made:
1.) without the full CRI board's approvalÃ‚ 2.) in direct defiance of Scripture, being that I am a professing Christian involved in evangelical causes forÃ‚ more than three decades (1 Cor. 6).
Third, the quarter million dollar penalty will have to paid out of CRI's contributors' donations, money that donors thought they were giving to God.Ã‚ Since the law suit was filed in the Spring of 2005, there has been no mention of the case in CRI publications and on the Bible Answer Man broadcast.Ã‚ Numerous former CRI supporters have contacted me astonished over the case, and many Christian leaders have contacted Hanegraaff as litigation was proceeding asking him to drop the case, but to no avail. I also wrote Hanegraaff a personal letter supplying him with my home telephone number so we could talk about some potential solutions.Ã‚ Sadly, this was ignored.
The projected CRI/Hanegraaff pay out also could not come at a worse time for CRI.Ã‚ As reported recently in the listserv AR-Talk, on 6-12-07 Hanegraaff claimed on the Bible Answer Man broadcast that CRI has experienced "a virtual shutdown in giving," and that they were $775,000 short, which might lead them to shutting down some ministries.Ã‚ "Income from giving " ¦ evaporated from where it was this time last year," he stated on the show while appealing for money to help overcome the "crisis."
Ironically, Hanegraaff and CRI Vice President Paul Young have ownership in a more than $1 million home in the middle of an exclusive golf course near Charlotte.Ã‚ (See
As previously reported, an appeals court ordered CRI to pay my legal expenses; in filing the 2005 law suit against me the court ruled that CRI's arguments could not be sustained, and the suit was apparently meant to silence a critic.Ã‚ Thus in filing the suit, Hanegraaff/CRI violated California's anti-SLAPP legislation. CRI missed their opportunity to appeal this case to the California Supreme Court by more than a month.
In previous court proceedings, CRI produced no evidence than any of their mail was diverted to another company and thrown in the trash. On the contrary, a postal report entered into evidence indicated that there was only *one tray* of CRI's mail diverted to another company on just one day, and the tray was "immediately returned."
Meanwhile I was able to introduce that fact that on six separate occasions(including an affidavit from an outside researcher)postal officials were quoted as saying Hanegraaff was under a mail fraud investigation. They only stopped saying that well after my initial story was filed and CRI's lawyer and private detectives were hired to defend CRI.Ã‚ Instead they put the case under review.
I will follow up in some type of forum, probably my web site, with actual copies and excerpts of legal papers.Ã‚ Be patient with me, I have a full time professorship and leadership position with California State University, East Bay ( Hayward) that has made it difficult for me to readily update my website and http://www.cultlink.com
It is also not known how much CRI/Hanegraaff paid their own attorney and others to attempt to bring me down.Ã‚ I encourage CRI donors to write Mr. Hanegraaff and ask him how much of contributors' money was paid in this effort in hiring Irvine attorney Tom Chun to initiate legal action against me.Ã‚ (More on this later.)Ã‚ No mention of this lawsuit or its end has been announced on the Bible Answer Man broadcast or in CRI publications.
Last, it should be pointed out that I will not receive any of the punative award; I gladly signed that away at the onset of my defense.Ã‚ I do believe my case was an important First Amendment case, and I wanted to make sure my attorneys get paid for the job they did. And these same attorneys could be there to defend other worthy First Amendment cases pro bono.
Moreover, I did not spend a dime of my personal income on my defense; I received a Word of Knowledge (or call it inspiration from God) that instructed me to not spend any money on my defense.
Last, I have been criticized for including the ACLU as part of my pro bono defense team.Ã‚ Those that would criticize me for that are ill-informed.Ã‚ The ACLU attorneys were not the lead lawyers in the case, and their attorneys did not actually argue the case in court at all.Ã‚ That was done by the national Ross,
Dixon and Bell firm that volunteered to help me pro bono.Ã‚ Attorney Kevin Kieffer was the lead attorney.
The ACLU simply had an interest in the case due to the first amendment issues involved -- freedom of speech and the rights of critics not be be harassed when speaking out about wrong doing.Ã‚ They defended Kurt Van Gorden in Salt Lake City who was arrested for exercising his free speech rights in front of Temple Square. Does this mean I endorse the ACLU?Ã‚ No not at all.
Second, The Christian Legal Society and the Pacific Justice Institute (another Christian legal group) both helped get my case before the ACLU.Ã‚ An attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute initially assisted me with the preparation of legal documents prior to my receiving representation.
Additionally, let us not forget that Mr. Hanegraaff and CRI initiated a frivilous law suit against me.Ã‚ I am going to protect my family.Ã‚ If CRI would have suceeded they could have ruined me, my family and all income possibilities in the future. AT the same time, I never had any doubt about my eventual victory; God revealed it to me, and now CRI will have to pay dearly.
William M. Alnor