RNS) — A New York City grand jury has indicted Christian Media Corp., the publisher of evangelical news website The Christian Post, and William Anderson, its former chief executive, on financial fraud charges, along with Etienne Uzac, who ran Newsweek magazine’s parent company.
The allegations center on more than $10 million in loans to buy computer equipment, but the proceeds were actually used to keep Newsweek magazine, owned by a related firm, operating, according to an indictment unsealed this week.
Some of those funds were funneled to The Christian Post’s parent firm, the indictment alleges.
The 14-year-old Christian Post — which has ties to both a prominent Southern Baptist ethicist and a controversial Korean pastor — claims to be “the #1 Christian website in the world.” According to research firm SimilarWeb.com, the site has received 2.42 million unique visitors in the past six months, down 2.51 percent over the previous period.
Along with news aimed at an evangelical audience – The Christian Post advertises itself as “pandenominational” — the site is noted for publishing commentaries authored by conservative evangelical and charismatic commentators, including Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources; Michael Brown, host of the “Line of Fire” radio program; and John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
The Christian Post also has ties to a number of high-profile national evangelical leaders.
Uzac, in a statement, claimed the indictment was payback for an International Business Times article on the prosecutor.
“I believe this very aggressive investigation is fueled by retaliation against me and my news media company for having uncovered that the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. declined to press charges against Harvey Weinstein after his attorney paid Vance money,” he said.
Oct 10, 2018
The purpose of this statement is to share my personal perspective on a grueling two-year investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s into the acquisition of server equipment through equipment finance lenders. It culminates in my indictment today and officially signals that this aggression that was playing outside of the oversight of the court, will now finally be overseen by professional judges.
I believe this very aggressive investigation is fueled by retaliation against me and my news media company for having uncovered that the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. declined to press charges against Harvey Weinstein after his attorney paid Vance money
(https://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/harvey-weinsteins-lawyer-gave-10000-manhattan- da-after-he-declined-file-sexual). The firestorm that ensued badly bruised the DA’s office, led to his office to be investigated by the New York Attorney General and almost cost him his re- election.
Within 60 days of IBT publishing the story, the DA ordered that our server room be raided. For the government to dare raid a media company’s servers no matter what the circumstances is crossing a line and a violation of the First Amendment and the Freedom of Press. As a matter of fact, I believe this is the first time in US history that the government has raided a media company’s server room.
Things will just have to play out to see how things play out.
The claim that the investigation is fueled by retaliation for reporting that a district attorney declined to press charges doesn't seem as though it's material. Let's put this another way, having documented the history of Mars Hill Church over the last ten years merely failing to take legal action isn't in itself inherently indicative of X or Y. There was a RICO suit that was dropped because fees could not be paid but the judicial assessmet of the case was that it looked like there was a basis for a case.
Alternatively, simply because, say, a Christian author could llitigate on charges of copyright infringement doesn't mean that Christian authors generally choose to do so (or that the lack of doing such means they shouldn't).