HOUSTON – A Continental Airlines flight attendant's lawsuit against Victoria Osteen, wife of nationally known pastor and author Joel Osteen, was expected to go before a jury, attorneys said.
Sharon Brown alleges in a civil lawsuit that Victoria Osteen, co-pastor of Houston's popular Lakewood Church, assaulted her during a Dec. 19, 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo., by throwing her against an airplane bathroom door. She also alleges Osteen elbowed her in the left breast.
The Federal Aviation Administration fined Victoria Osteen $3,000 for interfering with a crew member during the flight.
Rusty Hardin, her attorney, adamantly denies the allegations.
"It's absolutely insane," Hardin said Wednesday in an online edition of the Houston Chronicle.
Attorneys for both sides on Wednesday will attempt to seat a jury and Joel Osteen was expected to testify during the trial.
In a pretrial frenzy of finger pointing, lawyers for both women say airplane passengers and Continental employees will testify it was the other woman who was out of control.
The FAA report states that Osteen asked another flight attendant to clean a liquid on her first-class seat armrest. When that attendant said she would get another flight attendant, Osteen grabbed a second flight attendant and took her to the seat, the report said. The second attendant said she would call cleaning personnel and headed to the cockpit, the FAA said. Osteen followed her and came across Brown, whom she pushed and elbowed in the left breast in an attempt to get to the cockpit, according to the report.
The flight attendants asked to have Osteen removed from the plane; she and her family left voluntarily. Osteen denies the charges of assault.
According to court documents, Brown claims that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the incident and said her faith was affected. She is also suing Osteen for medical expenses for counseling.
Brown's attorney, Reginald McKamie, declined to discuss the evidence he plans to present at trial, but said medical professionals will testify on Brown's behalf.
McKamie said Brown wants an apology and wants to punish Victoria Osteen with punitive damages amounting to 10 percent of her net worth, saying his client was "traumatized" by the whole event.
Joel Osteen's weekly television address is broadcast nationally and internationally.