- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2008

HOUSTON | The wife of televangelist Joel Osteen did not assault a flight attendant during an angry tirade over a stain on her first-class seat, a jury ruled Thursday.

Jurors rejected Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown’s claims that Victoria Osteen threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast while attempting to rush the cockpit because she was angry that a stain on her seat’s armrest was not quickly cleaned up.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Mrs. Osteen said afterward. “I expected it because it’s the truth and I know the truth always stands firm.”

Mr. Osteen said he and his family hold no ill will toward Ms. Brown.

“It’s a great vindication and shows us the faithfulness of God,” he said.

Ms. Brown was suing for at least $405,000 for physical and mental pain suffered as a result of the attack she alleged had occurred before takeoff aboard a December 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo.

Ms. Brown’s attorney, Reginald McKamie, said afterward, “We’re disappointed in the verdict.”

Mrs. Osteen and her husband, who also was aboard the flight, testified that the alleged assault never happened. Three first-class passengers and a pilot aboard testified Wednesday that they never saw or heard anything that indicated that Mrs. Osteen assaulted Ms. Brown.

Another flight attendant, Maria Johnson, supported Ms. Brown’s claims. Both flight attendants testified that they had to block the cockpit door to prevent Mrs. Osteen from getting inside.

Ms. Brown’s side earlier sought an apology and punitive damages amounting to 10 percent of Mrs. Osteen’s net worth as part of her lawsuit.

Mrs. Osteen’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has declined to discuss her finances. It was not clear what percentage of her net worth the $405,000 might be.

Mrs. Osteen told jurors that she went up to Ms. Brown after no one helped her clean up the spill. She said it was Ms. Brown who became angry during their discussion. Mrs. Osteen denied ever touching Ms. Brown or trying to get into the cockpit.

Mr. Hardin tried to cast doubt Ms. Brown suffered any physical or mental injuries. Under cross-examination, Ms. Brown acknowledged that doctors found no physical injuries on her and that she delayed getting psychiatric treatment.

Claudia Hall, a former Continental flight attendant, testified by video deposition that she was falsely accused by Ms. Brown of hitting and pushing her into the bathroom wall of a plane in November 1995.

The Osteens are co-pastors of Lakewood Church, which draws about 42,000 people each week for services. Mr. Osteen’s weekly television address is broadcast in the U.S. and internationally, and his books are sold around the globe.

The Osteens paid a $3,000 fine the Federal Aviation Administration levied against Mrs. Osteen for interfering with a crew member but testified they did that to put it behind them.

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