The latest sordid episode of the Rev. Ted Haggard’s sex-and-drug peccadilloes now includes allegations that New Life Church reneged on its offer to provide financial comfort to a young male parishioner who was the object of the evangelical leader’s lewd affections.
I just hope AP religion reporter Eric Gorski got some combat pay for having to report the details of Haggard’s no-hands tryst.
Gorski writes in an article picked up by the Colorado Springs Gazette an incredible story by Grant Haas, a New Life Church volunteer and ex-seminary student, of Haggard masturbating in front of him while on a trip to a popular casino west of town in 2005. It’s not stated if the excursion was church-related or a personal getaway to the craps tables by the two men.
Then 22 years old, Haas admitted to Haggard that he was expelled from the Moody Bible Institute for “struggles with homosexuality.” He further claims that Pastor Ted’s “eyes lit up and his whole attitude towards me changed.” What followed was upwards of 2,000 text messages per month from Haggard chronicling the pastor’s sexual experiences and drug use.
And that’s the tame part.
Gorski’s story, which borrows heavily from an exclusive interview of Haas by reporter Tak Landrock of Colorado Springs ABC-affiliate KRDO-TV, doesn’t provide a time frame in which the apparent non-physical sexual relationship and prolific texting took place.
In the on-air interview with Landrock, Haas tells a much more sordid tale of pornography, methamphetamine use and mutual masturbation. (Note: This video is not safe to view at work, near children or anybody with a lick of common decency.)
After hearing of Denver male escort Mike Jones’ shocking November 2006 assertions of a long-time cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard, Haas went privately to New Life authorities with his own salacious story.
While Haggard was getting canned by both his own church and the National Association of Evangelicals where he served as president of the 45,000-member strong protestant church network, New Life entered into a financial agreement with Haas. Current New Life pastor Brady Boyd vigorously denies the payment was “hush money.”
Accounts vary slightly with each passing news account, but Boyd claims a congregational insurance settlement of $179,000 — “compassionate assistance” — provided college tuition and counseling through 2009 as long as Haas did not speak publicly about the relationship.
But Haas provided documents to KRDO claiming the church broke its word and stopped making the payments.
“Their main focus was, you know, cover it up, don’t say anything,” he said. “You’ll regret it if you come forward.”
For his part, Haggard says that he apologized to Haas following steamy news accounts of the 2006 sex scandal. Not to be forgotten, Jones released his own YouTube video Monday decrying New Life’s cash payment to Haas and reminding the church community that there are more victims of Haggard’s bawdy advances.
Boyd blames the forthcoming HBO bio-pic, “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” which early reviews lambaste as a self-pitying account of the fallen pastor’s post-scandal life, as motivating Haas to go public.
To add to the growing media circus, Haggard and his wife, Gayle, will appear on “Oprah” in a taped interview Wednesday and on “Larry King Live” Thursday evening immediately following the premiere of the Haggard tell-all movie.
Cue up your TIVO and then smash it.