Ex-Oral Roberts professors ask school for $2.5M

Tulsa_Two former Oral Roberts University professors have asked the school for $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit in which they claim they were forced out after alleging financial and ethical wrongdoing on the part of the school's former president and his family, The Associated Press has learned.

According to several people familiar with the lawsuit, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the lawsuit is ongoing, the evangelical school contacted attorneys for Tim and Paulita Brooker requesting a proposed settlement amount.

The overture was made as school attorneys prepared to produce records per a judge's order from a school pilot and security guard - witnesses the professors say will prove claims of wrongdoing in their lawsuit.

The Brookers' attorneys responded late last week, asking for $1.5 million for Tim Brooker and $1 million for Paulita Brooker, according to a settlement demand letter obtained by The AP.

"We understand that settlements of litigation are always negotiable," the demand letter states. "However, please be advised that unless the plaintiffs receive very substantial counter-offers, they will not further negotiate these demands."

Attorneys for the professors and the school declined to comment on any settlement talks Tuesday, citing a judge's order prohibiting them from talking about the case outside of court. School spokesman Jeremy Burton also declined to comment.

The wrongful termination lawsuit, filed Oct. 2, initially included three former professors who claimed they were forced out after reporting the school's potentially illegal involvement in a local mayoral race and after they gave school regents a copy of a report documenting alleged moral and ethical problems of Richard Roberts and his family.

Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, are accused of spending school funds on shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses and for their daughters. They are also accused of having sent a daughter and her friends on a Bahamas vacation aboard a university jet.

The lawsuit also accuses Lindsay Roberts of having spent the night in a school guest house with an underage male nine times.

The allegations came as the school faced more than $50 million in debt.

Richard Roberts, whose father Oral Roberts was the school's founder, resigned in November, pledging to clear his name. Both he and his wife have denied wrongdoing.

In January, the school settled out of court with John Swails, one of the professors, resulting in his reinstatement at the school and an undisclosed financial payment.

The Brookers remained as plaintiffs, and filed an amended complaint that added as defendants the individual members of school's board of regents.

Earlier this month, a district judge ruled that the Brookers' lawsuit against the university would be allowed to proceed. Attorneys for ORU and Richard Roberts sought to have the case dismissed, arguing the professors failed to support their claims in the court filings.

, AP Writer  © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.