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Gay engineer, Trinity Broadcasting, settle harassment suit

A confidential settlement has been reached between a gay broadcast engineer and his former employer, Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Trinity Christian City International in Costa ...Image via Wikipedia

Brian Dugger sued Trinity last March, claiming he was harassed and discriminated against by employees of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting empire.

Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger with pornography, said TBN was no place for fairies and declared that ‘Brian has a man-gina!’ ”

In court paperwork, Crouch said those things never happened.

Dugger began working as a broadcast engineer for Trinity in Nashville in 1993, and grew “exceedingly close” to Paul Crouch Jr.’s daddy, Paul Crouch, the suit said. When TBN headquarters moved to Southern California, the senior Crouch insisted that Dugger come, too; but once here, the senior Crouch became less involved with the station, while wife Jan and son Paul Crouch Jr. took the reins.

That’s when things began to get difficult for Dugger, the suit said.

Soon after his transfer to Tustin in 2001, Dugger was told not to dress so gay or to wear jewelry, to act more straight and to pay attention to girls, it said. “Brian has a man-gina!” Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger (in front of a live video camera and a crowd of TBN workers). The junior Crouch (that’s him at right) also sent Dugger explicit pictures of genitalia – male, female and transsexual – as well as explicit images of copulating couples and other pornography, the suit said.

Dugger claimed that he was denied promotions, raises and responsibility because of his sexual orientation, and ultimately forced into a “sham independent contractor relationship” with TBN, so the network could keep its distance from him. That deprived him of the benefits afforded to employees under California and federal laws, the suit said.

In 2007, Dugger’s contract was not renewed. When Dugger appealed to the junior Crouch, Crouch told him that TBN was not a place for fairies, the suit said.

The suit was originally filed in Orange County Superior Court, but then moved to federal court. Dugger sought at least $1.9 million in punitive damages; $650,000 in general and special damages (lost wages and benefits, emotional distress); as well as statutory damages.

Dugger’s attorney, Tymothy MacLeod, said he could not discuss the terms of the settlement. Trinity did not respond to requests for comment.

In 1994, $425,000 was paid to silence allegations of a gay tryst involving the senior Crouch and an employee. The senior Crouch denied it happened.

Trinity preaches the prosperity gospel and is the world’s largest religious broadcasting company. Its twinkling white headquarters is just off I-405 in Costa Mesa. In addition to broadcasting into most every American home, it arrives via satellite on TVs in Russia, Spain, Portugal, the Middle East, Central Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Brazil and more. It produces films, owns theme parks and dozens of homes.

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