Harvest Bible Chapel’s founder and former leader James MacDonald has slapped Chicago radio personality Matthew “Mancow” Muller with a lawsuit alleging multiple counts defamation and is seeking at least $50,000 in compensatory damages for the spread of false information which caused him emotional distress and significant harm to his reputation.
Also named in the lawsuit is Cumulus Media, Inc., a Delaware corporation, which owns and operates WLS-A.M. 890 Radio, which broadcasts Muller’s morning show in Chicago as well as individuals involved in the production of Muller’s podcasts.
MacDonald’s controversial Feb. 12 ouster from Harvest Bible Chapel was triggered by “highly inappropriate recorded comments” made public on Muller’s radio program as well as “other conduct.”
He was recorded talking about planting child pornography on Christianity Today CEO Harold Smith’s computer, and making crude remarks about independent journalist Julie Roys — including joking that she had an affair with then CT Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli — and a vulgar reference to Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
“MacDonald’s statements, as broadcasted, streamed and otherwise published by Muller and Cumulus, was a private conversation between James MacDonald speaking on the telephone in the presence of Walk in the Word employees Daniel Sumpter and Wayne Shepard on one side, and Johnnie Moore, a noted Christian evangelical leader and public relations specialist, on the other side, from an enclosed and soundproof studio at the Harvest Bible Chapel campus in Elgin, Illinois with no outsiders or extraneous participants known to be listening, invited to listen, or listening with MacDonald’s knowledge, authorization or consent,” lawyer’s for MacDonald argue in the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County, Illinois.
“The recording was made through eavesdropping as defined in 720 ILCS 5/14-1 as MacDonald had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the private telephone conversation that took place in a closed-door, soundproof room, and he had not given authorization or consent to uninvited third parties outside the room to listen to the private conversation via an electronic device or record same and lacked knowledge that the conversation had been intercepted through a listening device and was being recorded,” they continue.
“Muller knew, or should have known, that the telephone conversation was private and was recorded unlawfully …. One who uses or discloses any information he knows or reasonably should know was obtained from a…