HOUSTON — The wife of televangelist Joel Osteen did not assault a flight attendant during an angry tirade over a stain on her first-class seat, a jury ruled Thursday.
Jurors rejected Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown's claims that Victoria Osteen threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast while attempting to rush the cockpit because she was angry that a stain on her seat's armrest was not quickly cleaned up.
"I'm glad it's over," Victoria Osteen said afterward. "I expected it because it's the truth and I know the truth always stands firm."
Joel Osteen said he and his family hold no ill will toward Brown.
"It's a great vindication and shows us the faithfulness of God," he said.
Brown was suing for at least $405,000 for physical and mental pain suffered as a result of the attack she alleged had occurred before takeoff aboard a December 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo.
Brown's attorney, Reginald McKamie, said afterward, "We're disappointed in the verdict."
Testimony that assault never happened
Victoria Osteen and her husband, who also was aboard the flight, testified that the alleged assault never happened. Three first-class passengers and a pilot aboard testified Wednesday they never saw or heard anything that indicated Victoria Osteen assaulted Brown.
Another flight attendant, Maria Johnson, supported Brown's claims. Both flight attendants testified they had to block the cockpit door to prevent Victoria Osteen from getting inside.
Brown's side earlier sought an apology and punitive damages amounting to 10 percent of Victoria Osteen's net worth as part of her lawsuit. Victoria Osteen's attorney, Rusty Hardin, has declined to discuss her finances. It was unclear what percentage of her net worth the $405,000 might be.
Victoria Osteen told jurors she went up to Brown after no one helped her clean up the spill. She said it was Brown who became angry during their discussion. Victoria Osteen denied ever touching Brown or trying to get into the cockpit.
Hardin tried to cast doubt Brown suffered any physical or mental injuries. Under cross-examination, Brown acknowledged that doctors found no physical injuries on her and she delayed getting psychiatric treatment.
Claudia Hall, a former Continental flight attendant, testified by video deposition she was falsely accused by Brown of hitting and pushing her into the bathroom wall of a plane in November 1995.
The Osteens are co-pastors of Lakewood Church, which draws about 42,000 people each week for services. Joel Osteen's weekly television address is broadcast in the U.S. and internationally and his books are sold around the globe.
The Osteens paid a $3,000 fine the Federal Aviation Administration levied against Victoria Osteen for interfering with a crew member but testified they did that to put it behind them.
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