Christian Television Network Daystar Downsizing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Bedford-based Christian television network Daystar has laid off employees at its local stations in Houston, Denver and Ashland, Ky.

    Daystar spokesman Larry Ross said the three stations would continue to transmit the network’s signal but that their studios would no longer be staffed by full-time production employees.

    He would not specify how many jobs were eliminated.

    The cuts come as Daystar faces two high-profile lawsuits.

    In one, a former ministry executive, Jeanette Hawkins, claims she was directed to participate in a cover up about the departure of another employee who left because of an extramarital affair with Marcus Lamb, who founded Daystar with his wife Joni.

    Hawkins claimed she suffered such emotional distress, she became suicidal and was involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

    In the second case, another former employee claimed Joni Lamb’s father sexually harassed her by touching her inappropriately during what he called “quiet time.” Joni Lamb’s father, Bill Trammell, is the network’s manager of special projects, the lawsuit said.

    Marcus and Joni Lamb revealed his affair with the former employee in December on their daily TV show “Celebration” and claimed three former employees were demanding $7.5 million or they would go public with the allegations. The Lambs have not commented personally on the second lawsuit involving Joni Lamb's father but Daystar issued a statement saying the allegations were “outrageous.”

    In a separate lawsuit alleging defamation and extortion, the network’s lawyers cited a comment the women’s lawyer made to NBC DFW about a previous lawsuit involving a third former employee of Daystar.

    Jim Fisher, the Dallas attorney who is representing the women who filed both lawsuits, said he had represented a third former employee who settled a lawsuit against the ministry last year.

    Fisher characterized the claim in that lawsuit as sexual harassment.

    “The common denominator in all of them is a lack of integrity and a lack of adherence to the moral principles that Daystar purports to adhere to,” he said.

    The former employee, camera operator Paul Bonanno, listed a variety of allegations in the suit, including an incident in Feb. 2007 in which he claimed a co-worker assaulted him when she “bumped into him from behind.”

    The lawsuit did not specifically claim sexual harassment but in a letter to Joni Lamb before the case was filed, Bonanno’s original attorney said he had advised his client to file a federal complaint alleging “age, race and sexual harassment.” The letter was attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit.

    Court records show Fisher took the case over from the Bonnanno's first attorney and amended the lawsuit in October to a simple claim of retaliation. It was settled a month later.

    Reached Monday, Fisher said he could not discuss the Bonanno lawsuit because it has become a legal issue in the most recent case.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Daystar is facing two sexual assault lawsuits. NBCDFW regrets the error.