A former executive of the Christian TV network Daystar claims in a lawsuit that she was pressured to participate in a cover-up of an extra-marital affair by the Rev. Marcus Lamb that left her suicidal and involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
The woman’s attorney called Lamb’s allegation that he was being blackmailed “preposterous.”
The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County District Court on Wednesday, is the latest twist in a saga that began Tuesday, when Lamb and his wife made the affair public in a live broadcast of their television show “Celebration.” They also claimed that three people threatened to tell reporters about the affair unless Daystar paid them $7.5 million.
Hawkins’ attorney, Jim Fisher of Dallas, said he also represents two other Daystar employees who have not yet filed lawsuits. He would not identify them or elaborate on their claims.
Fisher said he approached Daystar’s attorneys a few weeks ago and informed them he represented the three women and proposed a settlement before he filed the case.
"There was no blackmail,” Fisher said. “There was no extortion… I did say I intended to file a lawsuit the first week of December, and so I don't think it was a coincidence that it was the last day of November that they put on this media spectacle."
In a dramatic broadcast Tuesday, the Lambs took to the airwaves, admitted the affair “several years ago” and accused three people -- presumably Fisher's clients -- of trying to blackmail them.
"They are now saying that unless Daystar pays them $7.5 million, that they're going to take our story that we just shared with you to the media,” Joni Lamb said.
Fisher would not specify his proposed settlement figure but strongly denied any extortion.
He said lawyers attempt to settle lawsuits every day.
"I never made such a threat,” he said. “I did not threaten to go to the media, and I didn't go to the media. They went to the media with this story."
Fisher is familiar with big news stories. In the 1990s, he represented Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against then-President Bill Clinton. The case ultimately settled for $850,000.
Fisher filed Wednesday's lawsuit solely on behalf of Hawkins but said he also plans to file lawsuits for his other two clients who are also former Daystar employees.
In the lawsuit, Hawkins claimed that:
- Marcus Lamb's affair with a top assistant lasted seven years.
- An employee found "many lewd statements" in e-mails Lamb had written to the woman. In one of them, according to the lawsuit, Lamb said he "could not wait to make her the next Mrs. Marcus Lamb."
- Daystar bought the woman’s house and “entered into a sham consulting agreement under which Daystar paid substantial sums of hush-money to her."
Hawkins alleges she was pressured to take part in an alleged cover-up and was so depressed, she became suicidal and eventually was "involuntarily committed to a mental institution."
Fisher declined to talk about the specific claims in the lawsuit but did say he wanted to set the record straight about the allegations of blackmail.
"The notion that I would go to their office and talk to their lawyers and commit a second-degree felony when they easily could have been recording the conversation or even videotaping it with a hidden camera, is preposterous,” he said. “No one would have done that."
Daystar spokesman Larry Ross said he had not read the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
Daystar’s attorney, John Lynch of Grapevine, did not immediately return a phone call late Thursday.