Scenes From The Osteen Trial: The Race Card Played

Post-traumatic stress disorder – it’s not just for combat veterans and victims of violence anymore!

Ever been shoved? Talked down to at work? We’re not saying you’ve got an excuse to go all Martin Sheen-punching-a-mirror-in-a-Saigon-hotel-room crazy, but you may be entitled to a sweet settlement. At least that’s what Sharon Brown, the Continental Airlines flight attendant suing Victoria Osteen for 10 percent of the co-pastor’s net worth, is hoping.

Shayna Lee, the psychiatrist Brown happened to hire a week after she gave her deposition last year, testified that Brown does indeed have PTSD, which has led to her suffering symptoms of depression and, um, hemorrhoids. This resulted from Osteen disrespecting Brown’s authority in a way her attorney, Reginald McKamie, characterized as racist.

Apparently, Osteen refused to speak to Brown and another black flight attendant. Instead, the co-pastor demanded to deal with white attendant Maria Johnson.

Johnson, who testified prior to Lee, had the initial contact with Osteen upon her discovery of the unidentified liquid in her first-class seat. Not wanting to come in contact with a potentially corrosive chemical, Johnson requested a cleaning crew be brought on board to take care of the mess.

Things don’t happen fast enough, Osteen tries to muscle her way into the cabin to complain to the captain, and voila, there’s something approximating a catfight going down. (No hair-pulling was alleged, but Osteen did elbow Brown’s breast as she shoved her out of the way.)

Osteen’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, was furious when race was brought into it. He bellowed at Johnson, who – hours into her testimony – said she believed Osteen’s actions were racially motivated: “When did the two of you (Johnson and McKamie) decide to play the race card?” How was she not aware that Lakewood’s congregation is one-third black and one-third Hispanic? And how could one be so woefully ignorant of the Osteens' reputation with the black community? The Lord wants believers of every race to be rich, goddammit!

Hair Balls is certainly not suggesting that Osteen didn’t go all Naomi Campbell on an undeserving flight attendant because of a small pool of liquid on her seat. It’s important to note, however, that Brown has: actually been involved in a dangerous situation when the landing gear failed to deploy on an aircraft she was on; recently lost a brother; has had two abortions; and worked as an aspiring actress before joining Continental. (That last one’s gotta suck.) If none of that is enough to lay you out with a case of the posties, it’s hard to believe getting shoved by a television personality is going to push you over the edge.

A couple of other highlights:

McKamie objecting – as he was questioning a witness – to the fact that Hardin was objecting too much. This prompted a snarky comment from Hardin later on in the proceedings that got both boys chided by Judge Patricia Hancock.

During the incident, Joel Osteen apparently tried to make things okay by offering to clean the spill up himself. Victoria nixed that idea: “That’s not the point – I could do that if I wanted to.” Dude just wanted to go skiing.

There’ll certainly be more to come in the next couple of days when Osteen and Brown take the stand.

Blake Whitaker


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