Friday, August 15, 2008

Richard Roberts Gets Severance

The former president of Oral Roberts University, who stepped down amid allegations he misspent school funds to live in luxury, is being offered a severance package but university officials won't divulge its terms.

Richard Roberts, the son of school founder Oral Roberts, resigned in November. He and his wife, Lindsay, were accused of spending money on shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters at a time when ORU was more than $50 million in debt. Both have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green took the reins at ORU in January, donating $70 million and pledging to restore the public's trust in the small evangelical school. Billy Wilson was selected to serve with Green as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

On Wednesday, Green called the proposed severance agreement "fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of ORU." The package has yet to be finalized, and Green refused to comment further on the details.

Frank Hagedorn, Roberts' attorney, confirmed the negotiations.

"He was promised a severance and he should get his severance," said Hagedorn, who would not say whether his client was assured severance when he resigned last November.

Critics say any deal for Roberts sends the wrong signal.

Richard and Lindsay Roberts still face a lawsuit brought by two former professors who claim they were forced out after alleging financial and ethical wrongdoing on the part of Roberts and his family. They also are named in a lawsuit brought by Trent Huddleston, a former senior accountant at ORU, who is suing for wrongful termination.

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