This Page Updated April, 2009
Garner Ted Armstrong
Sex, Crimes and Videotape
July 11, 1997
GERALDO RIVERA: We are in the midst of a video revolution. Video's been used to catch robbers trying to hold up convenience stores. Video's also been used to spy and women in various stages of undress. If s been used to catch baby-sitters that have little regard for your children's safety when you aren't around. It's also been used to catch cheating spouses caught in the act of being unfaithful.
Unidentified Man #1: And what happens now-we've proven here there definitely is definitely a relationship. It's holding hands, kissing. It-it-it went on for about two weeks that we had videotape surveillance on them.
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.. Before you meet our first studio guest, let me give you an idea of what you'll be seeing over the course of the next 60 minutes. Later on you'll be meeting a man who videotaped a couple having sex in a pickup truck just a few feet from his home. That tape had tragic consequences for Randy and Diana,. two of our guests. And also later you'll be meeting a grieving mom who actually videotaped the confession of the man who murdered her 20-year-old son. And what will you think, I wonder, when you see and meet a young man, a teen-ager, who was caught on tape stealing from the church poor box?
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.
Ms. SUERAE ROBERTSON (Videotaped Her Sexual Harassment by 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-I'm 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...
Ms. ROBERTSON: Excuse me, sir, no.
RIVERA: ...say they're a massage therapist, but they're just shallow fronts for sexual activity.
Ms. 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.
Ms. ROBERTSON: He is president of Church of Cod 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.
Ms. 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 harassment's of you.
Ms. 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.
Ms. ROBERTSON: On July 4th of '95.
RIVERA: So it's relatively recent.
Ms. 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, he's laying on the bed nude, didn't 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.
Ms. 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.
Ms. 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
Ms. ROBERTSON: 'My work is so important that I will be forgiven and you will be forgiven.'
RIVERA: Did you complain at that point, SueRae?
Ms. 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?
Ms. 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.
Ms. ROBERTSON: ...in this little community that...
RIVERA: And this was-this was in Texas?
Ms. ROBERTSON: This is in Tyler, Texas.
RIVERA: Ty-Tyler, Texas, OK.
Ms. ROBERTSON: Yes.
RIVERA: Is that his home base?
Ms. ROBERTSON: That's where their corporate headquarters are.
RIVERA: The Church of...
Ms. 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?
Ms. 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.
Ms.. 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?
Ms. ROBERTSON: He called me.
RIVERA: So he called you And when was that?
Ms. ROBERTSON: That was July-July 12th-15th, 15th.
RIVERA: So just-just two weeks later, not even...
Ms. 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-he's 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.
Ms. ROBERTSON: This is when he's first coming in and-and he's...
RIVERA: All right. Garner Ted Armstrong, the leader minister of file International Church of God.
Ms. 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?
Ms. 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?
Ms. ROBERTSON: We have done civil charges, OK?
RIVERA: What do you mean? Tried to sue him?
Ms. ROBERTSON: Yes.
RIVERA: Yeah. And what happened? And the church, I assume?
Ms. 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?
Ms. ROBERTSON: Yes. Yes, I'm sure he has.
RIVERA: Does he allege that you're lying in some way or that you're...
Ms. ROBERTSON: At first he-he said that it wasn't him, that it was somebody else. But those tattoos...
RIVERA: A stand-in, yeah.
Ms. 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...
Ms. 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.
Coming up later in the program, we'll update you on some of the most shocking videos we've shown in you in past programs) including the mother who secretly videotaped her daughter whom she suspected of sleeping around, the parents who forced their six-year-old twins to beat each other up. ?Remember that one?-and the husband who caught his wife cheating on the tape. We'll tell you what happened to their marriage
And focus your eyes, if you would, on Diana and Randall, who sit on our studio stage. This is the couple frustrated by years of harassment from punks using their front yard as a dump and a toilet-videotaped a couple having sex in a pickup truck not 60 feet away from their children's swing set. What happened, though, after that videotape was made public is something, I'm sure, this couple had no anticipation of. It is a tragic story in its own right So this is about Sex, Crime & Videotape. Back in a flash, folks. Stay tuned.
RIVERA: Remember this video of a teen-age car-jacking suspect? The kid swerving all over the place, cops on his tail. At one point he flips the car-the kid flips the car. The two suspect are inside. One of them was a 17-year old boy-he was the driver. His girlfriend was with him. They had eluded officers for about seven minutes, then they crashed. The kid driving was arrested as his jumped out of the car and ran; the girl suffered a severe arm injury. She went into surgery. An officer was injured during the-during this one, the officer treated for minor leg injuries.
OK, a videotape changing law enforcement. Remember this one, the would-be robber trying to steal a cash register? But the-the dummy couldn't pull the cord out of the wall. He's pulling the whole wall out. There you go. Come on, one more time. Yeah, you'll get it. You'll get it. This is not exactly John Dillinger. Finally the merchant comes out with his baseball hat. The perp gets away, but the clerk got the license plate number, cops traced the license number and the perpetrator was finally arrested.
Now we go to Randall and Diane Tell us why you took-Diana-why you took extraordinary action. First of all, were you in agreement, Diana and Randall-Diana, to take this videotape?
Mrs. DIANA POWERS (Husband Videotaped Couple Having Sex Outside Their home): Well, the tape was took while I was at work, but I was the one that come home-and when I heard what was going on, I was the one who called the sheriffs department and raised T?total-just, you know, all kinds of hell about it. You know; I was shocked that something like this could go on in front of my house not no more than 60 or 70 foot from the kids' play set, no more than 100 foot from our front door and our picture window, and that my kids...
RIVERA: So this is in broad daylight?
Mrs. POWERS: Yeah, exactly, broad daylight, 10:00 in the afternoon-?2:00 in the afternoon, and a clear line of sight, and...
RIVERA: To your house. And, in fact, Randall, wasn't it y?? one of your children who spotted the action?
Mr. RANDALL POWERS (Videotaped Couple Having Sex Outside His Home): Yes. We had...
RIVERA: All right Why don't we roll it and you tell us the story? Go ahead, roll the tape.
Mr. POWERS: This is when I-? the kids come into the house and said there was a man standing out by this truck with his pants down around his ankles and his butt moving in and out. And at that time I looked out the picture window and I could see there was something suspicious other than just someone standing talking to each other. And it just happened to be I had a video camera.
RIVERA: He doesn't even have his shirt on.
Mr. POWERS: No, they-I had thought they-the river is right in front of them...
RIVERA: I guess he...
Mr. POWERS: ...and a lot of people come down there to eat lunch, take a-you know, just have a quiet moment with each other, and that's what I...
RIVERA: lend this guy 6 bucks for a Motel 6, for God's sake.
Mr. POWERS: Yeah, that's what I said. For-for basically what they paid for a fine, they could have gone to a nice motel, had a nice dinner and stayed overnight.
RIVERA: Now the fines were the-I assume the-the guy was fined 100 bucks?
Mr. POWERS: Yes, I believe so.
RIVERA: And the woman $250?
Mr. POWERS: I'm not sure about the fines.
RIVERA: Well, I want to know-I read that. I want to know why the woman got fined more than the man.
Mr. POWERS: Maybe because she wasn't married.
RIVERA: She wasn't married. Well, see, that's another reason he should have been fined more. Wasn't this his wedding anniversary? \
Mr. POWERS: I had heard that it was his anniversary, yes.
RIVERA: But see? See? We have that instinct, don't we? Our-instinct is to look at a video like this and say, 'What a (censored). What a dope. What's on this guy's mind? Why is he doing this?' And then we can be mad at him for doing it next to these nice, law-abiding people. But now Diana will tell us what happened to the man whose face you briefly saw in that videotape as a result of a local TV station picking up that videotape and broadcasting it. Diana, what happened?
Mrs. POWERS: He-he later committed suicide.
RIVERA: Why'd he do it? Why'd he kill himself?
Mrs. POWERS: I-I have no idea. I don't know if it was because of the media pressure' or because of guilt. You know, I-I have no idea why he....
RIVERA: Do you, Randall? Any idea?
Mr. POWERS: Well, facts I do not know, only hearsay from people that moved in circles that he moved in, and people that moved in the same circles with me. I was told that he was going to counseling and they were trying to patch up ?with any married. couple, when something like this happens, there's got to be friction. He-he and his wife decided that they probably could patch this up. They went to counseling.
On the second occurrence of this video being shown on TV, it was recorded by a student and was taken to school to discuss morals in today's society, which is a class in high school. His stepdaughter went to this school, and I don't know for a fact, but there's speculation that maybe peer pressure at school and her bringing it home maybe, and maybe him feeling that this is never going to end.
That's the way we-we kind of-as-as short a time as a week ago my kids were confronted in school with it after a five-year period, kids wanting to be mean. The-the student walked up to my son and said,. 'You were banished from your town and you caused a man to kill hisself" which-at the tine, my children were seven and nine, and they had absolutely nothing to do except they witnessed it. and told me what was going on.
RIVERA: So, Randall, how do you feel about the fact you made this videotape available to the authorities and they, in turn, broadcast it?
Mr. POWERS: I wish that I never had. I-I wish that it had have died that day before he did
RIVERA: S-it's real life, see? There was a time where you do something like that and the worst thing would happen-you get scolded, you get shouted at, someone tells someone who tells someone who tells your family. Now let's go to the videotape. It has changed our worlds.
SueRae, do you feel safe now? Do you feel challenged by this organization, this International Church of God? Do you feel threatened?
Ms. 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-I'm just one of many that he has done this to.
Ms. ROBERTSON: Allegedly done this to.
RIVERA: John Osborne, what's the status of this case?
Mr. JOHN OSBORNE (Attorney for SueRate Robenson): 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.
Mr. 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.
RIVERA: Everything, every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Earlier this season, we fat-we featured a mom who videotaped, as I mentioned at the top of the program, her daughter in the daughter's bedroom. The videotape was to snoop for clues into the daughter's personal life. When we come back, you'll meet the mom, Mary, who took the video of her daughter, you'll see the video and you'll find out what happened between daughter and mom right after this. Sex, Crime & Videotape continues. Stay tuned.
NOTICE! UPDATE 5/2011
"Into Bed With Garner Ted Armstrong, THE MOVIE"
View Video HERE
See the pudgy, little, tattooed, adulterous creep in all is naked glory(?) cavorting around in the nude, wanking on his little pee-pee. How the mighty have fallen!
I take no pleasure in this. If the creep would just get out of the religion business, I wouldn't care what he did sexually as long as he wasn't hurting someone.
If you are interested in more information on Garner
Try to find Harry Crews' essay:
"Temple of the Airwaves: A Visit with Garner Ted Armstrong and The World Tomorrow."
Esquire (December 1976): 108-110, 166, 169-171, 174, 176.
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