Disgraced celebrity pastor, James MacDonald, and Harvest Bible Chapel have settled their months-long arbitration, and both parties have agreed to a Protective Order, keeping the details of the settlement confidential.
That’s according to court documents filed today by MacDonald’s lawyer. The documents state that the settlement was reached on August 14.
The documents are part of MacDonald’s defamation lawsuit against Mancow Muller. And the information about the arbitration settlement was included as support for MacDonald’s argument that certain documents requested by Muller’s lawyer should remain confidential.
The arbitration between MacDonald and Harvest dates back to May 2019.
According to an Elder Update, MacDonald sent the church a letter demanding arbitration in May. (MacDonald actually filed for arbitration in July 2019.) Harvest said the issues in MacDonald’s claim primarily involved MacDonald’s termination and ownership of his former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word.
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At the time, Harvest said: “As leaders of this church, we are committing to communicating about this arbitration process as it progresses. There is no desire to keep this matter unnecessarily private.”
To date, Harvest has made no public announcement about the settlement.
I emailed the elders of Harvest and Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw, seeking comment, but they did not respond by time of publication.
MacDonald Seeking Confidentiality in Muller Lawsuit
The information about the arbitration settlement was included in MacDonald’s response to the first set of interrogatories and requests for documents by Muller and his employer, Cumulus Media, as part of MacDonald’s lawsuit against them.
MacDonald is suing Muller for allegedly fabricating stories about MacDonald and falsely labeling MacDonald a “con man” on Muller’s morning show on WLS-AM.
In the documents filed today, MacDonald claimed that he has been unable to obtain a position with a new church “in whole or in part” as a result of Muller’s actions. MacDonald added that his economic losses include $1.9 million in lost salary/deferred compensation; $300,000 in lost intellectual property royalties and speaking engagements; and $500,000 in lost publishing.
In several cases, MacDonald objected to Muller’s request for documents, stating that they were confidential because of the Protective Order that’s part of MacDonald’s arbitration settlement with Harvest. These included requests for:
- All documents and communications concerning or referencing the termination of Your position as Senior Pastor of the Harvest Bible Chapel.
- All non-privileged documents and communications referring or relating to any lawsuit filed against You or the Harvest Bible Chapel, including, but not limited to, any discovery requests that were served in such lawsuits.
- All non-privileged documents and communications referring or relating to any lawsuit filed by You or Harvest Bible Chapel.
MacDonald also objected to Muller’s request for MacDonald’s tax returns while MacDonald was employed at Harvest. In the document, the request is labeled an attempt to “harass” MacDonald. And the document states that MacDonald will produce the documents “upon the execution and entry of a Protective Order.”
MacDonald also objected to the following requests, and similarly said he would comply only if both sides agreed to a Protective Order:
- All documents and communications concerning or referencing any criticisms or complaints pertaining to your conduct as a pastor.
- All communications between You and any member of the Harvest Bible Chapel regarding your termination or sabbatical.
- All documents substantiating Your allegation that You sustained “injury to [Your] reputation, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, mental anguish, the termination of [Your] position as Senior Pastor of HBC, and monetary damages” as a “proximate result of Defendant’s defamatory statements.”
A judge has not yet ruled on Muller’s document requests or interrogatories.