Jan Crouch, co-founder of one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting networks, died early Tuesday of a massive stroke at 78 – before a truce could be called in her family’s painfully public civil war.
Alongside her late husband, Paul, Crouch built Orange County-based Trinity Broadcasting Network from a vision Paul had while tooling down MacArthur Boulevard into a religious empire spanning the globe with nearly $1 billion in net assets.
Trinity’s religious programming – designed to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, and built on the “Have a need? Plant a seed” philosophy – can be seen throughout Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands, among many other locations.
Crouch’s death leaves the prosperity-gospel empire in the hands of her younger son, Matthew Crouch. Cut out of the picture almost entirely was her eldest son, Paul Crouch Jr., and his family. Members of the Crouch Jr. clan hadn’t seen Jan Crouch for years, and learned of her passing through news reports, family members said.
In a statement on Trinity Broadcasting’s web site, son Matthew and his wife Laurie said they “just watched the transition of our precious Mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward.
“Those who battled for the Kingdom of God knew her as a fighter — someone who didn’t give up, someone who fought relentlessly to get the Gospel around the world,” it continued. “ She has taken a piece of our hearts with her, but it’s so wonderful to know that Paul and Jan Crouch are together again, in the arms of Jesus.”
For those on Paul Crouch Jr.’s side of the family, the news was devastating.
“Today was a day I never thought would happen,” said Brandon Crouch, Paul Jr.’s son, on Instagram. “I can still hear her voice as she tells the heart-wrenching story. Grandma: ‘Brannie, what would you like for Christmas this year?’ Me: ‘For my grandma to live forever.’
“Your legacy will be in me forever… I love you grammie,” Brandon Crouch wrote. “Wish my son would have had a chance to meet you, and wish I could have seen you at least once in the last six years.”
Brandon Crouch and his sisters, Brittany Crouch Koper and Carra Crouch, hadn’t seen Jan Crouch because of the family’s brutal infighting. Both sisters are suing Trinity.
Brittany Crouch Koper has accused the mighty Christian broadcaster of playing fast and loose with the ministry’s millions, and provided internal documents to back up her claims.
Carra Crouch alleges that she was plied with alcohol and raped by a TBN employee in Atlanta when she was just 13 – and that her family covered up the incident rather than report it to authorities, to protect TBN’s reputation.
Trinity says it’s all untrue. It accused the Kopers of engaging in an inflammatory smear campaign to divert attention from their own financial sins against Trinity.
Trinity has filed a half-dozen suits against Brittany Crouch Koper and her husband Michael Koper, charging them with stealing some $1.3 million during their years of employ with Trinity, as well as a trove of privileged documents that they’ve inserted into the court record in “dribs and drabs” in an attempt to blackmail and destroy the network. The Kopers said they just want the ship of Trinity’s mission righted and set back on course.
On the rape allegation, Trinity has argued that many adults with a more direct line of authority over Carra Crouch apparently failed to take her to a doctor or to call police after the alleged incident. Those adults would be far more culpable than anyone at Trinity if, indeed, the facts she claims are true, an attorney for Trinity said at Carra Crouch’s deposition in 2014.
The ongoing legal battles with Trinity have bankrupted Brittany Koper Crouch, who went from beloved granddaughter to exiled accuser.
Brittany Koper Crouch and her grandmother grew very close when Brittany was in high school in Irvine. “She was every girl’s dream come true,” Koper told the Register in 2012. “She has a funny sense of humor – really different from what you see on TV. We’d talk about boys, gossip, get magazines and look through at the celebrities. It was a teenage-girl type of relationship. She’s the one who encouraged me to dye my hair blonde, wear blue contacts and go on a diet. When she lived in the mansion in Newport Beach, I’d go over and she’d do my make up and put her wigs on me. We’d go to movies together; she’d take me on shopping sprees for clothes, and when I went away to college, I was very homesick. She’s the first person I would call to talk to.”
After Brittany Koper Crouch made her accusations against Trinity, “it’s like I’m dead to them,” Koper Crouch said. Jan Crouch didn’t answer calls. On a recent Christmas day, Crouch Koper sent Jan Crouch a text that said, ‘Grandmom, I love you so much no matter what. Thank you so much for teaching me about Jesus.’”
She didn’t hear back.