Â©Copyright 2009, The Oklahoman Larry Jones took bribes and hid hard-core porn magazines at the charity, Feed The Children is alleging in a countersuit against its fired president. The charity also is accusing Jones in the civil case of other misdeeds, including misspending charity funds, pocketing travel money, keeping gifts from appearances and misusing a charity employee as a nanny. Jones, 69, denied wrongdoing. "They fired me wrongfully,” Jones said Tuesday evening. "What they’re trying to do is build a case up against me so that will hold up. It won’t hold up … I didn’t do anything. … If I had … done anything wrong, you better believe I would have taken everything out of the office … because I knew I was probably going to be fired. "This is crazy,” he said. "I’m not saying they can’t live without me, but everywhere I go, people say, ‘Feed The Children is Larry Jones and Larry Jones is Feed The Children.’ And what they’re trying to do is bury me … with all these trumped-up charges.” He specifically said the alleged bribes were above-board payments to him and that the magazines were research for a new novel, "The Zipper Disease,” about AIDS in Africa. Jones on Nov. 10 filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the charity and its board of directors. Attorneys for the charity made the new accusations against him in the countersuit filed Monday.
Organization says it is continuing missionThe countersuit is the latest twist in the turmoil at the Oklahoma City-based Christian relief organization. The charity is known nationwide, primarily from Jones’ heart-wrenching television appeals for funds to feed starving children. Jones had been the face of the charity since founding it 30 years ago. In a statement Tuesday, the organization said it is strong and viable and "continues to fulfill its biblical mission each and every day.” It said officials have worked for two years to correct Jones’ misguided actions and end his free-wheeling dominance of the organization. "We believe that Larry started out as a man with a mission to help children and families. We will continue that mission. Additionally, we will continue to defend this organization,” said Rick England, chairman of the charity’s board of directors. Jones was fired Nov. 6 after admitting he had hidden microphones installed in the offices of three top executives at odds with him. Police investigated Jones after remnants of the recording devices were found. Prosecutors decided not to file any charges. Jones said he did nothing illegal because he intended to record only his own conversations. Jones also was fired because directors decided he solicited a $22,000 bribe from a supplier. Jones said he only asked for help with legal expenses and the vendor took his request the wrong way. Evidence of other wrongdoing was found after his termination, the charity and its attorneys said. "The unexpected discovery of pornographic material, along with other personal items found in his offices, leaves this board of directors saddened, but certain the right decision was made,” the charity said in its media statement Tuesday. In the countersuit, the charity’s attorneys described the material as publications and excerpts from publications ranging "from hardcore pornography to incestuous sexual family relationships.” The attorneys said the material was found hidden in his charity office and a nearby private area. The attorneys identified some of the publications as Family Affairs, Taboo’s Family Heat, Best of Family Touch, Penthouse Secret Fantasies, The Penthouse Sex Files, Penthouse Forum, Best of Forum Letters, Penthouse Letters, Penthouse, Penthouse Variations and Playboy.
‘I’ve never taken a bribe,’ Jones saysAs an evangelist in the 1970s, Jones crusaded against pornography. In his book, "Keep Walking,” Jones wrote he even bought a bulletproof vest because of multiple death threats early in his campaign. Jones said Tuesday he intended to send the magazines to a Nashville ghost writer, Tom Carter, to explain to the writer how bad pornography has become. He said the ghost writer is helping him with a series of novels, including "The Zipper Disease.” "I’m not a dirty, old man. All of this was done for research,” Jones said. The charity’s attorneys said evidence Jones took bribes was found in documentation in his office after his termination. The attorneys said the documents show Affiliated Media Group — which buys TV time for Feed The Children’s fundraising spots — regularly paid Jones. The attorneys alleged Jones concealed the payments. The attorneys also alleged Jones secretly entered into a three-year contract with Affiliated Media Group and persuaded the company to put his son on its payroll. Jones said Tuesday, "I’ve never taken a bribe in my life.” Jones said he was paid about $10,000 a month in sales commissions by Affiliated Media Group. He said he was paid because he recruited preachers to use the company for their own fundraising spots and air them before or after a Feed The Children spot. He said that arrangement helped reduce Feed The Children’s costs for airtime, too. He said the payments ended years ago. "The owner said to me, ‘Hey, man, you’re one of the best salesmen I’ve got. I don’t feel right you doing this without remuneration.’ I said, ‘Whatever you want to do is fine with me.’ … It was the same as … what his salesmen were getting,” Jones told The Oklahoman. About getting his son a job, "I can’t say that I didn’t help do that. He worked for Affiliated Media. He doesn’t any more, but he did. There was nothing wrong with that. … If you came to me and said you wanted your son to go work for me and your son was capable in an area we needed him, then what would be wrong with that?”