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From the Orange County Register: The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who propelled the Crystal Cathedral into one of the most recognized churches in the world, lost the bulk of his multi-million dollar claims against his former ministry in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday. Judge Robert Kwan in Los Angeles ruled that Schuller, his wife, daughter and son-in-law did not provide evidence to back most of their claims. “It’s just a travesty after all that they’ve given and all that they’ve done,” said daughter Carol Schuller Milner. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, filed a number of claims, including a $5 million claim for breach of contract and another for an unspecified amount for copyright infringements. Judge Robert Kwan rejected most of the claims and instead awarded $615,625 to Schuller and nothing to his wife. “This was a complete victory for the creditors and the church,” said attorney Todd Ringstad, who represents the creditors. With the ruling, “we have a thousand plus checks to write” to creditors who have been awaiting payment since the cathedral filed for bankruptcy in 2010, said attorney Nanette Sanders. John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral, said in an e-mail: “A long and difficult period in the history of the Crystal Cathedral is over. “The ruling will enable the final creditors to be paid and give us the money we need to move on with our ministry, spreading a message of hope and love to the people of Orange County and, through the ‘Hour of Power,’ to the world,” Charles wrote. “The trial was painful for everyone involved, and our congregation is ready to move on. We love the Schullers and wish them well.” The elder Schullers, their daughter, Milner, and son-in-law Tim Milner will now be among the unsecured creditors vying for a piece of the approximate $17 million available for disbursement. The creditors are owed approximately $14 million, Sanders said. Kwan rejected most of the $272,000 in claims submitted by the Milners, and instead allowed $10,615 to Schuller’s daughter for a housing allowance and $67,000 for Tim Milner for two of his claims. After the creditors are paid, any remaining money will go to the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which sold its Garden Grove campus to the Catholic Diocese of Orange and is looking to move to another site next summer. // Read more here…
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From the Orange County Register: On Friday, the first day of testimony, attorneys began to build their arguments through questions to Arvella Schuller and her son-in-law, Timothy Milner, a former employee of the cathedral who was fired last year. The elder Schullers are suing for more than $5 million for money they said is due to them following the rejection of the transition agreement during bankruptcy proceedings. They also are suing for an unspecified amount in copyright infringement claims. Their daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, and her husband are suing for approximately $272,000 in various claims, including salaries the ministry stopped paying them when it entered bankruptcy. Arvella Schuller said she was never paid for her work for the church, also called a consistory: “That was my gift to God.” But the Hour of Power program fell under a separate entity, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The two were to be kept separate, she said. “My husband and Dr. Billy Graham said, ‘We must never allow the television ministry to bankrupt the church,” Schuller testified. “The church was kept separate. That was sacred.” Interviewed by opposing counsel, Schuller was repeatedly asked about a $198,000 annual payment to her and her husband. Was it for her services on the Hour of Power or for her and her husband’s intellectual property? The 83-year-old appeared to give different answers, but she emphasized there is a difference between a royalty and a license. Ringstad called her testimony inconsistent. The Schullers’ attorney, Carl Grumer, said her testimony will be clarified when she returns to the stand Wednesday and he questions her. Meanwhile, sitting toward the front with his daughter and son-in-law was Rev. Robert H. Schuller. During one of the brief breaks between his wife’s three-and-a-half hours of testimony, she approached him for a kiss. His first words to her: “This is very unpleasant.” Carol Milner, Schuller’s daughter, said afterwards: “It’s too bad that at this stage of their lives, they have to go through this, after all they’ve done for the church.” A key issue in the trial will be the Rev. Schuller’s role in his church and whether he was an employee. Attorneys for the creditors and the Crystal Cathedral Ministries questioned his wife on where Schuller worked. He had an office at the cathedral but he also worked at home and at a Laguna Beach condo they owned and donated to Crystal Cathedral in the 1990s. He also had a favorite rock on Corona del Mar where he liked to look at the ocean because “water calmed him,” she said. Another key issue during the month-long trial will be copyright issues. Starting in the early 1990s, The Hour of Power television show was registered under the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Arvella Schuller at first said she did not recall the copyright issue. Ringstad said it was done at a time when controversy surrounded televangelists Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. The Schullers did not want to “be painted with the same brush,” Ringstad said, so they copyrighted the show under the Ministries instead of the senior pastor. Arvella Schuller said that regardless of who registered for the copyright, the content of the shows belong to its creators: her and her husband. Earlier in the morning, her son-in-law testified about his work for the ministry. Tim Milner said he typically worked 9 to 5 and one of his primary roles after the bankruptcy was filed was to try to secure big donors, but he did not succeed. Ringstad asked Milner if either of the cathedral’s two limousines were ever sent to pick up his paycheck. Milner said: “I have no idea.” Read more here.
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Robert and Arvella are seeking $5 million. Here’s the story from the Orange County Register: Schuller and his wife, Arvella, seek more than $5 million. Meanwhile, the outcome of the trial will have an impact on creditors who have been waiting to be paid since the Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010. “We’re just hoping that it’s soon over, so we can just move on,” said John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. “It’s been painful for both sides.” Carol Schuller Milner, a Schuller daughter who along with her husband, Tim, also has claims in the trial scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said: “This is really grieving us. We don’t pursue conflict. We believe in reconciliation.” The elder Schullers filed a number of claims for breach of contract and copyright infringements. The largest claim seeks damages for the rejection of an agreement between them and the ministry written prior to Rev. Schuller leaving his post as senior pastor in 2005. In that agreement, the church agreed to provide for Robert H. and Arvella Schuller until their deaths. It included payments of $119,000 per year in housing allowance, $20,065 for insurance annually and $198,000 per year to Schuller’s corporation, Robert Harold, Inc. Both Schullers are in their 80s. Starting in late 2008, as the ministry faced aneconomic downturn and a decline in donations, the Schullers were paid less. When the ministryfiled for bankruptcy, all payments stopped. And in the reorganization plan, the agreement with the Schullers was rejected. Payments also stopped to Carol and Tim Milner. She was employed for $10,000 monthly to do work related to her father’s intellectual property. He worked as an independent contractor on various services, including fundraising and arranging the reverend’s speaking engagements. Their claims total approximately $189,000, according to court documents. The elder Schullers have been criticized for using their power and influence over the years togive themselves and their children generous salaries, housing allowances and other benefits, even after the church began to struggle financially. Carol Milner disputes the idea that her parents and siblings are wealthy or took advantage of the church. “People have said the big, bad Schullers took all this money, but in reality we were running a $60 million organization. And we gave it our all,” she said. “My parents did not become wealthy as the result of the church,” Milner said. You can read more here… Todd
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