Changes Made To Lawsuit Against ORU

Thursday, February 7th 2008, 7:35 pm
By: News On 6

A new billion dollar allegation is leveled against Oral Roberts University.  The jaw-dropping figure comes from a former accountant who says he was fired for knowing too much.  The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports he now accuses the former ORU Board of Regents of funneling a billion dollars through the university.

The accountant's attorney, Gary Richardson, says they've actually known this information all along.  But, he says he didn't have confirmation until now and his client has amended his lawsuit effective Thursday.

The amended suit names ORU, Oral Roberts Ministries, Richard and Lindsay Roberts, as well as 25 other members of ORU's now disbanded board of regents.  ORU's former senior accountant Trent Huddleston first filed suit last November, claiming he was fired for knowing too much.

"About being chastised on more than one occasion for asking questions that most accountants would say they need answers to," said Huddleston's attorney, Gary Richardson.

Now Huddleston claims he needed an answer to a billion dollar question.

The new version of the lawsuit says Huddleston had access to unrestricted accounts and one of them was used to funnel more than one billion dollars a year through the university.  The suit claims the money was not used for any legitimate university purpose that Huddleston knew of and that he was fired just before a scheduled audit.

Richardson says his client doesn't know where the money came from or where it went.  But, the lawsuit says it appears the former regents participated in the funneling of the money for their personal use.  Richardson claims it's a case of the fox watching the hen house.

Obviously, the suit now deals with a huge number.  A billion dollars is more than $80 million a month, which is more than ORU earned or spent in an entire year, according to IRS filings.

ORU has denied the allegations.

Richardson says if the university wants to set the record straight, they should release the results of the independent audit requested last year.