Otto Arango v. Baptist General Convention of Texas
Remember the Valley-Gate scandal which has dominated Texas Baptist life for the past two years? If you don’t, here’s a brief summary from a May, 2007 Baptist Standard article:
Last year, a five-month independent investigation uncovered evidence that 98 percent of the 258 new churches reported by three church planters in the Rio Grande Valley between 1999 and 2005 no longer exist, and some never existed—except on paper. Those churches received more than $1.3 million from the BGCT. The investigative team faulted the BGCT Executive Board staff for poor oversight, uneven management, failure to abide by internal guidelines and misplaced trust.
Otto Arango was one of the three church planters at the center of this independent investigation.
This week, Otto Arango filed a lawsuit against the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Other defendants listed in this lawsuit include David Montoya (aka Spiritual Samurai); Calvary Baptist Church of Mineral Wells, Texas; Palo Pinto Association; David Tamez; Dexton Shores; The River Ministry; Roberto Rodriguez; Primera Iglesia Bautista; Eloy Hernandez; and The Baptist Standard. The suit was filed by Arango’s attorney, David Garcia, in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Otto Arango lists libel and slander as his causes of action.
In the 12-page complaint, Arango questions the legitimacy and accuracy of the data and conclusions reached by the attorney conducting the independent investigation on behalf of the BGCT.
Here are a few snippets from the complaint:
Rumors, insinuations and innuendos quickly spread throughout the Baptist community that Plaintiff Arango had allegedly misappropriated funds and had allegedly lied about the number of new churches he had started.
Defendants resorted to actual publication of some of the rumors and insinuations about Plaintiff through its various publications. The Defendant BGCT, through its Baptist Standard publication, printed some of the information about the investigation it had commissioned without confirming the truth of the information, even though the final report indicated that the information provided to the investigative team by the Defendants was unreliable.
The Defendant’s knew or in all reasonable probability should have known that because their publication, the Baptist Standard is distributed throughout Texas, the libelous articles about Plaintiff could easily be picked up by secular newspapers. In fact, this is exactly what happened and the Plaintiff’s name and the investigation into his alleged misappropriation of church funds soon found its way into the San Antonio Express, the Monitor of McAllen, the Dallas Morning News and other papers…
Defendants by and through its agents, servants and employees, made certain statements of purported fact that the Plaintiff had stolen and/or improperly used the Defendant BGCT funds, that he had allegedly lied about the number of churches he had formed, and that he had allegedly stolen money from the Defendants. These false and malicious statements have been and continue to be detrimental to Plaintiff’s reputation, credibility and integrity as Plaintiff had a history of being an honest individual. Further, these statements were published to the Plaintiff and others in Defendants’ publicatiosn such as the Baptist Standard and in its world wie website. These publications were made with malice and a lack of good faith. These defamatory statements have injured the Plaintiff in his business, trade, occupation and/or profession and in his ability to obtain future employment.
The Defendants, by and through its agents servants and employees communicated to others that Plaintiff had stolen funds, had improperly used church funds and had lied about the number of new Hispanic Baptist churches he had started. As a direct and proximate resolut of the publication of the defamatory statements, as stated above, Plaintiff has suffered damages including damages to his reputation as well as to his business, trade, occupation and/or profession which are in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this court. As a result of the wrongful conduct and the acts described herein, Plaintiff has suffered damages as further alleged in this Petition.
And the Damages that Otto Arango is claiming:
Damages that Otto Arango is claiming:
- Lost Earnings and Special Damages
- “loss of earnings and loss of earning capacity will continue long into future, if not for the balance of Plaintiff’s natural life. “
- -Past and Future Mental Anguish
- -Exemplary (Punitive) Damages
- -Attorney’s Fees and all other related suit costs
More to come. Just wanted to throw text from the suit online.
For complete coverage of the “Valley Funds Scandal” – see the Baptist Standard archive.