Crystal Cathedral founder seeks $5M from church

Associated Press Modified: November 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm •  Published: November 2, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The aging founder of the Crystal Cathedral is in court seeking more than $5 million from the ministry he built from scratch in a dispute that has delayed millions in payments to creditors left short-handed when the church filed for bankruptcy two years ago.

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller was in Los Angeles on Thursday for the start of a 10-day trial over copyright infringement, intellectual property and contract violation claims that stem from his ministry's devastating financial collapse. The trial continued Friday with testimony expected from his wife, daughter and son-in-law.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with more than $50 million in debt. The Schuller family's claims continue to delay about $12. 5 million in payments to creditors. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the ministry's soaring, glass-paned Crystal Cathedral last year in a bankruptcy deal and the remaining worshippers will move out by next year.

"We're just hoping that it's soon over, so we can just move on," John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, told The Orange County Register (http://bitly.com/T8GI6x ). "It's been painful for both sides."

One of Schuller's daughters and her husband also have claims in the case. The daughter earned $10,000 a month as an employee and her husband worked as an independent contractor for fundraising and arranging Schuller's speaking engagements.

One of the biggest sticking points for the Schullers is an agreement between the couple and the church written before Schuller left as senior pastor in 2005. That deal promised total annual payments of more than $337,000 for housing, insurance and money for Schuller's corporation, Robert Harold Inc. — but the payments stopped after the bankruptcy filing, the newspaper reported.

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