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Three Former Professors Sue School

A wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit filed in Tulsa County District Court, claims 3 professors were forced out because they brought up serious concerns to ORU's board of regents. A wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit filed in Tulsa County District Court, claims 3 professors were forced out because they brought up serious concerns to ORU's board of regents.
A news conference was held Tuesday announcing a lawsuit against Oral Roberts University. A news conference was held Tuesday announcing a lawsuit against Oral Roberts University.

Oral Roberts University, ORU's president Richard Roberts, and other school leaders are named in a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit on Tuesday. The lawsuit was filed in Tulsa County District Court. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports the suit was filed by three former professors who say they were forced out, after bringing up concerns about how ORU is operated.

The lawsuit against ORU, President Richard Roberts, the ORU provost and several other administrators was filed by three former professors. Two of whom, talked to reporters along with their attorneys at a news conference Tuesday morning.

"I determined to respond as a gentleman and a Christian. Although the actions taken against me were neither in my opinion," says John Swails, Ph.D.

Former professors John Swails, Tim Brooker and Brookers' wife Paulita, also a former professor, filed the suit. They say they were wrongly terminated or forced out.

"I want to make it right. It's wrong. And I found out since then it's not just me," says John Swails, Ph.D.

The former professors say they were forced out after voicing concerns about Richard Roberts insistence that the university get involved in Randi Miller's run for Tulsa Mayor.

"We were told use whatever resources that are at your disposal and go do it," said Tim Brooker, Ph.D.

Brooker says he objected, warning that using university resources would violate state and federal law and jeopardize ORU's non-profit status.

"I was called in and told you cannot involve Richard Roberts in any aspect of the report to the IRS. You have to create a narrative that totally leaves him out. Well he was the only reason we were involved, "says Tim Brooker, Ph.D.

According to the lawsuit, the professors also went to ORU regents with concerns about an internal university report, documenting allegations of questionable expenditures and management of the university. According to the lawsuit, the report itemizes dozens of instances of misconduct.

"Misuse of funds, misuse of assets at the university. Misuse of University personnel, all sorts of issues that we thought would be damaging for people to know," said Dr John Swails, Ph.D.

The professors believe they were punished for being whistleblowers.

"If they don't make some very significant changes administratively, there won't be an ORU much longer. Our goal is to help save the university, "says Tim Brooker, Ph.D.

ORU released a statement about the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon.

"It is important for ORU students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni, partners as well as the general public to understand that this lawsuit is largely premised upon a compilation of incomplete statements, unsubstantiated rumors and innuendos. ORU will address these allegations through the legal process."

Originally aired 10/2/2007 7:37 AM - Updated 10/3/2007 6:41 AM

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