Women drop lawsuits against Bedford's Daystar Christian network

Daystar Television Network's sex scandals may be winding down after three women who filed lawsuits against the Bedford network have dropped them. Daystar, in turn, dropped a countersuit.

No financial compensation was paid to the former employees, a Daystar spokesman said. Nor did the women pay any money or monetary equivalent, the attorney who had represented them said.

The cases were filed after Daystar founder Marcus Lamb acknowledged having had a sexual relationship with a former network executive. On a TV broadcast, he also accused three people, whom he did not name, of demanding $7.5 million from him to keep the affair secret.

Lamb later filed a complaint with Bedford police, but an investigation found that no laws were broken.

The women's lawsuits said that many Daystar employees knew he was referring to them. The network vigorously fought the lawsuits, including submitting arguments to the Texas Supreme Court.

One of the women, Jeanette Hawkins, a former director of marketing at the network, claimed in her lawsuit that she suffered extreme mental distress because she was hired to work in a Christian environment that was supposed to conform to the "highest standards of chastity, modesty, integrity and purity."

She also claimed that she was told to cover up Lamb's affair. Hawkins' lawsuit said Daystar paid "substantial sums of hush-money to her."

Hawkins argued in a fraud claim that Daystar and Lamb "misrepresented how Daystar was being managed and they failed to disclose that the persons to whom she would report were engaged in an ongoing, long-standing, illicit sexual relationship," according to her lawsuit.

A lawyer for the network said that her case may have turned on a ruling in October in which Hawkins' claims of fraud against Daystar were dismissed. "We obviously believe the Oct. 14 ruling in Dallas court throwing out Ms. Hawkins' fraud claim had a lot to do with plaintiffs ultimately dropping their lawsuits," said Michael Anderson, one of Daystar's attorneys.

In a statement, Arnold Torres, business administrator for Daystar, said "the decision to permanently drop these lawsuits without compensation confirms the true nature of their unfounded allegations and vindicates our position in fighting these claims."

But the women's former attorney, James Fisher of Dallas, said that at least two of the women decided to walk away from the cases out of principle. Both women, who are Christian, offered in writing to dismiss their litigation and appear before a group of "mature Christians to seek reconciliation," according to court documents. Daystar rejected their offers.

"Based on their Christian principles, my clients decided to terminate their claims voluntarily when it was obvious there was not going to be any peaceful resolution," Fisher said.

Fisher also said some rulings in the cases were in favor of Daystar and some in favor of his clients.

"The notion that they've tried to portray [that] defeat was imminent was simply not true," he said.

Hawkins dropped her suit in December. The other two women, who had filed their suits in federal court, also dropped theirs.

One of those was filed by former Daystar employee Karen Thompson, who had worked as producer of The Joni Show, a program featuring Lamb's wife, Joni, according to the suit.

Her March 2011 lawsuit claimed, among other things, that she was defamed, demoted and discriminated against because she would not break off an office romance.

A spokesman for Daystar's legal team has said Thompson initiated a relationship with an employee under her supervision who was 15 years younger.

A third lawsuit was filed by former employee Jennifer Falcon. In it, she accused Joni Lamb's father, Bill Trammell, of sexually harassing Falcon.

The suit accused him of engaging in inappropriate behavior, such as telling the woman to sit on his lap and hugging her tightly for prolonged periods.

Falcon was fired about two months after Joni Lamb and another woman confronted Trammell about his behavior, according to Falcon's suit. Daystar responded by saying Falcon "fully and finally released any claims she had against Daystar in a written severance agreement under which she received eight weeks of severance pay."

When the women dropped their cases, Daystar dropped its countersuit, Torres said. Daystar had accused the women of conspiring to commit extortion, violating confidentiality agreements and seeking profit at Daystar's expense. Despite the legal action and sexual revelation, Daystar's finances were relatively unaffected, according to information from the network. In March 2011, donations were down 7 percent compared with the same period in 2010 but up 5 percent over 2009, the ministry said.

Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126

Twitter: @DarrenBarbee