Norfolk, Virginia -- A Texas bodybuilder suing Pat Robertson contends the religious broadcaster walked into federal court for a legal proceeding and told him: ''I am going to kill you and your family.''
According to a complaint Phillip Busch filed with the Norfolk police, Robertson made the threat when he entered a room in the courthouse Wednesday to be questioned for a deposition.
''There was no such threat,'' said Robertson's attorney, Glen Huff.
Busch is suing Robertson for what he says is misappropriation of his image to promote Robertson's protein diet shake.
Robertson has been touting his ''age-defying'' weight-loss shake for five years on his Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network talk show ''The 700 Club,'' offering the recipe free to any viewer who requested it.
Busch contacted the show in 2005, saying he had slimmed down from 400 to 200 pounds by drinking the shake. CBN showed his before-and-after photos 20 times in a promotional spot and flew Busch to Virginia Beach for a live TV interview with Robertson.
Busch says he didn't know when he contacted CBN that Robertson recently had licensed his shake for commercial distribution by a nationwide health-food chain. He sued Robertson in September 2005, alleging that the broadcaster used his image for a commercial purpose without compensating him.
The case is set for trial in April. Robertson's spokesmen have accused Busch of extortion, and Busch has posted disparaging comments about Robertson on his personal Web site.
Busch has dismissed his attorneys and is litigating the case himself.
This is not the first time Robertson has been accused of threatening an adversary.
After the failure of an earlier Robertson commercial venture featuring Bible study courses and discount coupon books, the broadcaster fired Mark Peterson, the venture's top executive.
The two feuded publicly, blaming each other for the failure. Peterson sued Robertson in 1995, alleging that Robertson made a veiled death threat in a telephone conversation with Peterson's sister. vRobertson said he did not make a threat. Peterson dropped the lawsuit in 1997, saying he had forgiven Robertson.