Flight attendant suing Osteen’s wife takes the stand
A Continental Airlines flight attendant who is suing Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen, accusing her of attacking her on a plane, told a jury Tuesday she had once described Osteen and her husband, evangelist Joel Osteen, as the “devil” and their church a “cult,” but has since changed her opinion.
“I don’t believe they’re the devil,” Sharon Brown said near the end of her testimony on Tuesday.
Brown spent nearly six hours on the stand taking questions from Rusty Hardin, Osteen’s attorney. Hardin said he plans to question Brown again this morning, when the trial resumes in state District Judge Patricia Hancock’s courtroom.
Brown made her negative comments about the couple in a deposition she gave in 2007 in preparation for the civil trial. In that deposition, she said she believed Osteen was “struggling between good and evil” at the time of the incident.
On Tuesday, Brown said she now “has no opinion” of the co-pastor.
Attendant: Osteen’s wife eyed cockpit after attack
HOUSTON (AP) — A flight attendant suing the wife of megachurch evangelist Joel Osteen over a preflight confrontation testified Tuesday that she felt compelled to keep an irate Victoria Osteen away from the cockpit door.
“I looked in her eyes and realized she was looking at the cockpit. I positioned myself in front of the cockpit,” Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown said. “I still was trying to understand what was going on because it happened so quick. My main concern was I wasn’t going to let this lady in the cockpit.”
Rusty Hardin, Victoria Osteen’s attorney, however, questioned how Brown knew that Victoria Osteen was headed toward the cockpit just by looking into her eyes.
“Can you look into my eyes and tell me where I am going to go?” Hardin said as people in the courtroom laughed.
Brown testified that Victoria Osteen approached her and was upset and angry before the start of a 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo.
In her lawsuit, Brown accuses Victoria Osteen of verbally and physically abusing her and another flight attendant when a spill on the arm rest of the woman’s first-class seat was not quickly cleaned up.
“I asked her to calm down. When she came to me she was very upset. She was shaking (her sunglasses) in my face,” Brown testified. “I asked her ‘What could I do for you?’ I did everything I thought I could do in that situation.”
Hardin had Brown come down from the witness stand during her testimony to perform a demonstration of the alleged attack.
At one point, Hardin had Victoria Osteen and Brown stand next to each other so the jury could see that Osteen was taller. The height issue came up after Hardin questioned Brown’s claim that after Victoria Osteen tried to rush into the cockpit, she went under Brown’s arm, elbowed her and then pulled out another flight attendant who was in the cockpit.
“How in the world can that happen? The answer is you don’t know,” said Hardin, who later asked how the captain in the cockpit or other passengers were not aware of the attack.
In a videotaped deposition shown to jurors earlier in the day, Bill Burnett, the plane’s captain, said he hadn’t been aware of the alleged attack.
Hardin’s questioning of Brown got intense enough that state District Judge Patricia Hancock several times warned both not to speak over each other.
Brown is suing Victoria Osteen for punitive damages, compensation for physical and mental injuries she allegedlyl suffered in the alleged attack, and an apology.
Brown testified she suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the incident and that her faith has been affected.
Under questioning by Hardin, she acknowledged that no doctor has diagnosed any physical injury resulting from the encounter on the airliner.
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