Forks pastor files suit to keep tape off 'Oprah'

The Forum/May 28, 1994

Fargo, ND -- A pastor of a controversial Grand Forks, ND church has filed a lawsuit in the District Court in Fargo to stop conversations she had with a former church member from being broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey show.

The Rev. Renee Julison, a pastor of the Victory Church, is suing former church members Brad and Karlene Croy of Grand Forks, Oprah Winfrey, NBC, Harpo Productions, Winfrey's production company, and Rick Ross, a cult deprogrammer from Phoenix.

Julison contends Brad Croy illegally taped telephone conversations between her and his wife, Karlene, while Karlene was a church member and gave the tapes to Ross. Julison alleges that Ross then held Karlene Croy in an isolated place against her will and forced her to renounce her religious beliefs and leave the Victory Church.

Julison also claims that on May 20, Winfrey taped a show to be broadcast later that includes parts of the taped conversations and interviews with the Croys and Ross.

According to lawsuit, the conversations Julison had with Karlene Croy were confidential because they were between priest and penitent. Julison said having them broadcast would subject her, the church and Croy to irreparable harm and unjustified scorn and would undermine the church and its religious faith.

Julison asked for a temporary restraining order to keep the tapes from being aired, but U.S. District judge Patrick Conmy of Bismarck denied that request Friday.

Conmy said Karlene Croy and others were interviewed for the show, and Croy, at least by inference, has consented to the tape recordings being used.

Julison also is seeking in excess of $50,000 in punitive damages and the same amount in monetary damages and her attorney's fees and other costs of bringing this lawsuit.

Winfrey, Harpo Productions, Ross and the Croys couldn't be reached.

The Croys are among six former Victory Church members who filed a lawsuit against the church and its pastors in Northeast Central District Court in grand Forks last month. The former members allege that Julison and her husband, Rev. Ed Julison, and the church inflicted "intentional and negligent emotional distress and battery" on them.

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