A Tarrant County jury delivered a $3.7 million verdict against Crossroads Christian Church for failing to provide supplemental retirement benefits to its former Executive Pastor and his wife, both of whom served the church for more than 20 years.
Mel Dietz, who previously served as Executive Pastor from 1995–2015, helped oversee church operations and multiple construction projects on Crossroads’ sprawling 150-acre campus in Grand Prairie. His wife, Vicki Dietz, worked directly for Crossroads’ Senior Pastor, Barry Cameron, and was Cameron’s Executive Assistant for more than 20 years. The Dietzes were both participants in Crossroads’ Supplemental Retirement Plan.
On September 12, after a 3-day trial before visiting Judge John Weeks in the 48th District Court of Tarrant County, jurors unanimously found that Crossroads Christian Church failed to comply with the terms of its Supplemental Retirement Plan by taking more than $3.7 million of the Dietzes’s retirement benefits.
“What Crossroads did to Mel and Vicki was flat wrong,” says attorney Keith Clouse, who represents the Dietzes. “We are thrilled the jury chose to right the wrong, and I applaud them for having the courage to hold a church accountable for its actions.”
During trial, the Dietzes presented evidence showing that $4.7 million in supplemental retirement benefits were improperly taken in November 2011 and placed in Crossroads’ “We Believe” building campaign to help fund construction of a 75,000 sq. ft. children’s building after the church came up $22 million short in pledges and contributions needed to build the children’s building and a youth building.
“Crossroads’ Senior Pastor testified that Crossroads had never breached a contract, but that if it did, Crossroads would make it right,” says Clouse, a name partner in the Dallas employment law boutique Clouse Brown PLLC. “I hope Crossroads finally sees fit to make this right after the jury’s unanimous verdict.”
Texas Jury Says Megachurch Owes $3.7M In Benefits Fight, by Emily Brill, Law360 (subscription required)
Texas Megachurch Owes Former Pastor and Wife $3.7M in Retirement Benefits, Jury Says, by Leonardo Blaire, Christian Post
Church Found Guilty of Misappropriating Retirement Plan Funds, by Rebecca Moore, Plan Sponsor
Jury: Crossroads Megachurch in Grand Prairie Must Pay Couple Nearly $4M after Using Retirement Money to Expand, by Karen Robinson-Jacobs, The Dallas Morning News
Jury: Crossroads Church Owes Ex-Pastor $3.7M by Mark Curriden, The Texas Lawbook (subscription required)