Pastors Victoria and Joel Osteen
A civil trial is under way in Houston today as a flight attendant is suing the wife of megapastor Joel Osteen, claiming an onboard temper tantrum caused the stewardess to lose her religious faith and suffer a flare-up of hemorrhoids.
Sharon Brown says Victoria Osteen threw her against a restroom door and elbowed her in the chest during a scuffle on a Continental Airlines flight in December 2005.
She claims Osteen became confrontational, pushing and shoving her after she failed to promptly clean up a spill on Osteen’s first-class seat.
Brown reportedly wants an apology and is looking to punish Osteen with punitive damages amounting to 10 percent of her net worth after being “traumatized.”
Both Joel and Victoria Osteen showed up at the Harris County civil courthouse today as the case began, and are denying the allegations.
“It’s absolutely insane,” Rusty Hardin, Osteen’s attorney and spokesman for the Lakewood Church, told the Houston Chronicle. “The flight attendant went bonkers. She flipped out, acted rashly and now wants to be paid for it.”
Hardin calls it “a silly lawsuit,” noting Brown claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, an emotional condition most recently diagnosed in Iraq War veterans.
But Reginald McKamie, the attorney for Brown, maintains Victoria Osteen became irate after the spill was not cleaned up quickly enough.
“One thing led to another and that’s when Mrs. Osteen assaulted Continental flight attendant Sharon Brown,” McKamie told the paper. “She threw her against the lavatory door and she elbowed her in her breast.”
“She was traumatized by it, the whole event,” McKamie said. “She was seriously injured by Victoria Osteen’s conduct.”
In a pre-trial deposition, Brown said the incident damaged her faith, as she now questions the legitimacy of other spiritual leaders including those at her own church.
Brown also claims that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the scuffle, and is also suing Osteen for medical expenses for counseling.
Osteen paid a $3,000 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration for interfering with a flight.
Hardin said because the Osteens have tried to put the incident behind them, they didn’t contest the FAA’s findings and paid the fine without an admission of guilt.