Garner Ted Armstrong - "Getting Rubbed the Wrong Way"

Ted Armstrong has caused some colorful headlines in his time as a televangelist, but the video exposure outlined below probably ranks as an all time low.

Excerpts from the Transcript of SEX, CRIMES & VIDEOTAPE
Geraldo Rivera Talk Show, July 11, 1997


Geraldo Rivera


RIVERA: The stories you're about to hear are from people whose. lives have been forever changed by video. After you catch someone on video, gotcha. But what happens to these people after the gotcha?

After the gotcha? that could have been the title of today's program...

Now meet our first guest, SueRae Robertson. She's the victim of sexual abuse allegedly who decided she was not going to take it anymore.  She secretly shot some damaging video of a famous television evangelist, a television evangelist who she alleges was sexually assaulting SueRae during a therapeutic massage session.

SueRae tell us what it is you do exactly.

ROBERTSON (Videotaped Her Sexual Harassment bv an Evangelist): Well, I'm a nurse of 30 years. I've had some extensive training under an orthopedic surgeon in massage therapy. I'm-Im working now in-in just a-a general hospital. in Tyler.

RIVERA: So you're a-a massage therapist, but you're not one of these kinky ones, are you? You know, in LA they have-with all due respect, they have people who...

ROBERTSON: Excuse me, sir, no.

RIVERA:  ...say theyre a massage therapist, but they're just shallow fronts for sexual activity.

ROBERTSON: I understand that, but I-I really take offense to that. No, I'm a licensed nurse. I-I spent a lot of years getting my training. No, it was all up above board. I had doctors referring patients to me for therapeutic massage.

RIVERA: Now tell us about Garner Ted Armstrong. It's a name we are familiar with in vague terms. Tell us who he is.

ROBERTSON: He is president of Church of God International, is a TV evangelist. At one time hi-his show was shown worldwide. He has congregations all over the world. He's a-a very precise man; I mean, he's-when he walks into a room,  I mean, it's-his presence is-is known.

RIVERA: Charismatic, commanding.

ROBERTSON: Yes. yes.

RIVERA: Now the videotape we're about to see was not shot during the first of his alleged kind of assaults or harassments of you.

ROBERTSON: The sexual assault that was not caught on tape is at a minimum of four times worse

RIVERA: Tell us briefly what you allege happened that first time, then we'll show your video.

ROBERTSON: On July 4th of '95.

RIVERA: So it's relatively recent.

ROBERTSON: Yeah. Mr. Armstrong, who had been a patient of mine for about four months, had called and asked to come in. He had been on a trip and was complaining of severe back pain, and when-he came in and I directed him back to the treatment room and allowed him time to prepare. And then when I went into the room, why, hes laying on the bed nude, didnt have the drape over him. And he-I tell him to turn over, and to go ahead and to start the massage, because the massage starts-you start on their feet first.

RIVERA:      Mm-hmm

ROBERTSON: But he-he very qu-just as I started the massage, he-he turned over, he took my hands and pulled them down on to his genitals, and I pulled away. He came up off the table, backed me into a corner, pulled up my top I-I was wearing scrubs-bit my breast, and attempted to pull my pants down and got his-was trying to put his penis in between my legs.

RIVERA: OK, w-we-we definitely get the idea here, SueRae.

ROBERTSON: The-the final part was when he pulled my head down and forced me to-tried to force me to perform oral sex on him. And at-the whole time he's telling me, 'Now, SueRae, if you do this, it's OK, because it's like-it will be like repentance for your sins because I am as much like the son of David, and it-by...'

RIVERA: Oh, jeez

ROBERTSON: 'My work is so important that I will be forgiven and you will be forgiven.'

RIVERA: Did you complain at that point, SueRae?

ROBERTSON: I left the room. I-I finally got away from him, and I was so scared...

RIVERA: But did you call the cops? Did you make any allegations at that time?

ROBERTSON: No. I-I-I ran and I hid, and-till I heard him leave, and he i-he is very, very powerful...

RIVERA: I know.

ROBERTSON: this little community that...

RIVERA:  And this was-this was in Texas?

ROBERTSON: This is in Tyler, Texas.

RIVERA: Ty-Tyler, Texas, OK.


RIVERA: Is that his home base?

ROBERTSON: That's where their corporate headquarters are.

RIVERA: The Church of...

ROBERTSON: International Church of God

RIVERA: International Church of God. OK, so when this second time? When was this time where you laid this video trap for this guy?

ROBERTSON:  OK. For fear of going to the police, OK, I contacted a friend who put me in contact with an attorney, who said that. I-you know, Who are they going to believe? You know, they're not going to believe you'...

RIVERA: I-I think that that was probably good advice.

ROBERTSON: ...and asked if I thought I could handle letting him come in again, and that they would set up a camera that the private investigator would be in the next room, they would not let anything happen to me, but to let it go just as far as I possibly could, and I really didn't know if I could do that. And-and it was-that-that had to be the hardest thing I've ever done.

RIVERA: Did you call him for a reappointment or did he call you?

ROBERTSON: He called me.

RIVERA: So he called you And when was that?

ROBERTSON: That was July-July 12th-15th, 15th.

RIVERA: So just-just two weeks later, not even...

ROBERTSON: Hi-his normal pattern would be that he would come in for scheduled appointments about every two to three weeks. And, I mean, he-he-hes apologizing when he made the appointment for his behavior, and on the tape, as you saw, I mean he's apologizing for it again. But, I mean, it's like he had no conception of what he had just done to me.

RIVERA: OK. Well roll the tape now. Let's roll it. OK, tell us what's happening.

ROBERTSON: This is when he's first coming in and-and he's

RIVERA: All right. Garner Ted Armstrong, the leader minister of the International Church of God.

ROBERTSON: Which I? I don't know if it shows on this, but one thing that is just-it-it's astonishing to me. He has tattoos all over his body.

RIVERA: Yeah. And then what's he doing here?

ROBERTSON: This is where he's got me forced into the comer and he's-he's got my top pulled up. He is standing there masturbating at that time.

RIVERA: We contacted his office, Garner Ted Armstrong's office. He said that if SueRae was involved in any of this program, he would have absolutely no comment. It was not a denial. But I understand you tried to bring criminal charges based on that videotape?

ROBERTSON: We have done civil charges, OK?

RIVERA: What do you mean? Tried to sue him?


RIVERA: Yeah. And what happened? And the church, I assume?

ROBERTSON: The criminal-yes, and the church, because he is the church. And in some of the sessions, he had invited me to his church...

RIVERA: Has he ever seen that-has he ever seen that videotape?

ROBERTSON: Yes. Yes, I'm sure he has.

RIVERA: Does he allege that you're lying in some way or that you're...

ROBERTSON: At first he-he said that it wasn't him, that it was somebody else. But those tattoos...

RIVERA: A stand-in, yeah.

ROBERTSON: Everyone knows that it's him. He-after a period of time, he stepped down supposedly from the position.

RIVERA: I heard that. I heard that he...

ROBERTSON: But he-he-he's still running the church. It's just not public. And he-we have a-a tape that one of his former ministers sent to us that - of him apologizing to his wife and his children and to his congregation for any embarrassment that it may have caused.

RIVERA: Well, good for him. OK. John Osborne, SueRae's attorney, is here. We'll get a legal update on the status of her case, both the lawsuit seeking damages, I guess, against Garner Ted Armstrong and against the church, and whether or not any criminal charges will be lodged against the once-famed TV minister.


SueRae, do you feel safe now? Do you feel challenged by this organization, this International Church of God?   Do you feel threatened?

ROBERTSON: Well, after several death threats to myself, to my attorney, to his family, indications that they knew where my grandchildren were at, and the research that was done on this man when we found out, you know-Im just one of many that he has done this to.

RIVERA: Allegedly.

ROBERTSON: Allegedly done this to.

RIVERA: John Osborne, what's the status of this case?

OSBORNE (Attorney for SueRae Robertson): Right now the case is languishing in the Court of Appeals. The Church of God is trying to get out of the suit. A judge initially ruled in their favor. She later recused herself from sitting in the case having to do with her husbands relationship, I think, with Garner Ted. But at any rate, the Court of Appeals is going to rule whether or not the church should be a party to this lawsuit, and once they do, we proceed from there.

RIVERA: The videotape should make the case pretty open and shut, unless they interpret it as SueRae in some way inviting that kind of conduct.

OSBORNE: Well, she had a choice. She could either try to persuade a jury pool in a small Texas town where this man is a big fish, her word against his, or she could seek some sort of proof that this man is capable of acting in this fashion, and I think she made the right decision.