Staff editorial: Oral Roberts president appears to dig himself deeper

Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts spoke out against allegations of misuse of university funds on Larry King Live on Tuesday, although his appearance may have done more harm to his cause.

In a lawsuit raised against the university, three former ORU professors allege they were dismissed after reporting on Roberts’ misuse of funds for personal expenses during a 14-year period. They also allege that funds were used to support a mayoral candidate in Tulsa, Okla.

Roberts appeared to be shocked with the seriousness of the accusations levied against him and smiled his way through the line of questioning while on camera.

His appearance throughout the broadcast was less than convincing.

"I’m not exactly sure what to make of this," Roberts said. And it seemed that no one else did either when he smiled after his statement.

Roberts said that of the three professors, one was dismissed, another resigned and one did not have his contract renewed. The lack of detailed answers appeared to conceal information. Instead, he should have been ready to respond clearly to the damaging accusations.

The lawsuit allegations include a claim that Roberts and his family spent $51,000 on clothes, expended university funds to remodel his home 11 times in 14 years and acquired a jet for personal travel.

Roberts’ wife, Lindsay Roberts, defended the constant remodeling by saying that their home has had a problem with black mold and the expenses were paid by ORU because it was university property.

The allegations not only include financial misconduct, however, but also questionable behavior with downloaded politicians’ names on Roberts’ sister in law’s computer. Accusations also mention Lindsay Roberts’ alleged cell phone bill of more than $800 a month from sending text messages to underage boys.

The accusations come at a time when suspicious acts will not go unnoticed, especially after Texas Southern University’s former president, Priscilla Slade, who’s trial is now finishing, has been accused of misusing university funds for personal expenses.

Fortunately, the university’s board of regents has taken steps to review Roberts’ records by hiring an independent auditor on Friday to verify any wrongdoing, The New York Times reported.

Although Roberts’ appearance may be have worked against him, the inquiry will be the first step to expose any wrongdoing ideally it will put closer scrutiny on abuses of power by university officials across the country.

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