May 28, 1995 in Nation/World

Evangelist’s Libel Suit Against Abc Dismissed

Associated Press

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a libel lawsuit by evangelist Robert Tilton, who claimed ABC News destroyed his TV ministry with a 1991 expose on “PrimeTime Live.”

U.S. District Judge Michael Burrage granted summary judgment to ABC just three weeks before the lawsuit was to go to trial. He said he will release his opinion in 15 days.

Tilton’s Word of Faith World Outreach Center in suburban Dallas had a monthly income of about $7 million before the “PrimeTime Live” report saying Tilton falsely claimed to run an orphanage in Haiti and misled followers about praying personally over their prayer requests.

Tilton claimed ABC deliberately took information out of context to cast him in a bad light. He said the program resulted in “public scorn and derision.”

“We’re delighted to have these unsubstantiated and inaccurate charges behind us,” ABC lawyer Floyd Abrams said Friday.

J.C. Joyce, Tilton’s lawyer, was out of the office Friday and not available for comment, his secretary said. On Thursday Joyce said, “The truth is that Robert Tilton is an honest man and his church was an honest church.”

Tilton took his “Success-N-Life” show and live Sunday broadcasts from his church off the air in October 1993. His church, which once boasted more than 10,000 members, now has fewer than 1,000.

In February, a federal judge in Dallas dismissed another lawsuit that Tilton filed against ABC News and the Trinity Foundation, a religious watchdog group that provided information about Tilton for the “PrimeTime Live” broadcast.

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