Ex-evangelist Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle visit “Oprah” on Wednesday for a tell-all with tears about Haggard’s struggles with his sexuality and about how he wound up being drummed out of his church as a result.
That “Oprah” appearance, coincidentally, will take place one day before the debut of a new HBO documentary about his troubles called “The Trials Of Ted Haggard.” And now the documentary itself, or the marketing of it, is causing new trouble for Haggard.
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Today both The New York Times and the Associated Press are reporting that a young man has come forward to claim that Haggard performed a sex act in front of him and sent him explicit text messages and that he reached a settlement with the Church over the incident in 2007.
So why is this new information surfacing now? The young man in question, according to the Times, saw HBO’s advertising for the show and thought it was overly sympathetic to Mr. Haggard and was about to break his silence. HBO’s people reacted with a release saying while there was no physical contact between Haggard (now 52) and Grant Haas (who was 22 at the time) that it was an “inappropriate relationship.”
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For its part, the Church has acknowledged paying Haas — to the tune of nearly $179,000 according to documents provided to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs.
In characterizing a legal settlement involving money with Haas, a church spokesperson told the New York Times that the deal was, “not so much a settlement as it was compassionate assistance - we were trying to help the young man by being discreet.”
The church has suggested that none of this would have come out if HBO hadn’t been airing the documentary this week.
Meanwhile, Alexandra Pelosi, director of the HBO documentary and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, doesn’t see HBO as the root of the problem. She told the Associate Press that, “this is what happens when you don’t handle things properly at the time… If the church had been 100 percent full disclosure at the time, maybe this wouldn’t be a problem now.”
Haggard was first bounced from his post as Founding Pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs in 2006 after admitting to a long-term relationship with a male prostitute.
Meanwhile, on “Oprah”: Haggard’s wife Gayle said, in clips released today by Oprah’s people, that she was shocked early in their 30-year-long marriage when her husband first told her he was attracted to men.
“I felt it was the thing that could destroy Ted if he gave in to it,” she said. “So I prayed for him and I felt as though he was winning the battle.”
And on New Life’s Web site today… no mention of Ted Haggard at all.
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