Lawyers, Lies, Louisiana College & Denmark

The story of Louisiana College and its embattled President, Joe Aguillard, reminds me of Denmark. Not the literal country, mind you. Rather, a popular expression that includes references to the country and rotten smells. As one who admittedly has no dog in this fight and has not closely followed the ongoing shennanigans at LC, I have not had an interest in writing on this subject until now. For excellent background, analysis, and opinion from a variety of perspectives, you can check out posts by Joshua Breland at The Daily Bleat (here, here, and here) and Peter Lumpkins at SBC Tomorrow (here, here, and here).

It was actually Peter’s most recent article, “Lawyers exonerate whistleblowers and LC Trustees exonerate Aguillard, but who will exonerate the Trustees?” whch peaked my curiosity. How could I not get interested when he drags lawyers into the mix!  After cutting through all the smoke and mirrors,it seems that the main issues surrounding the controversy at Louisiana College, a school affiliated with and supported by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, are not primarily related to Calvinism (although Calvinism has no doubt played a supporting role in the kerfuffle), but rather to Character. Or, the lack thereof.  As Alabama Pastor and “Cousin” CB Scott rightly pointed out in a comment on the aforementioned post at SBC Tomorrow:

The issue at LC was always about and continues to be about the absence of Christian character.”

What, prey tell, is Mr. Scott referring to? Could it have anything to do with certain conclusions contained in a written report that was the product of an independent investigation commissioned by LC’s own Board of Trustees? The investigation was conducted by the New Orleans law firm of Kinney, Ellinghausen, Richard & DeShazo. You can read the full report, issued on March 17, 2013,  here. Did the Trustees vote to accept or reject the March 17 report or to merely receive it without accepting or rejecting the report’s findings? If the Trustees did not vote to accept, reject, or even receive the report as part of the official record, why not? Is all of this so privileged that Louisiana Baptists must be shielded from knowing the truth? A little bit of sunshine is always the best kind of disinfectant.

From an outsider’s perspective, the facts of this case and the conclusions of the lawyers charged with investigating the allegations against Dr. Aguillard are quite damning if true. I say “if true,” because apparently a majority of the erstwhile Trustees at LC either rejected the statements of fact and conclusions contained in the report OR ignored the findings of the report altogether.  The first is indefensible absent another double secret report or additional evidence that was not available to the law firm. The second is unconscionable. Of course, the lack of mitigating evidence — if it exists — can be attributed to Dr. Aguillard’s refusal to attend any scheduled interviews with the lawyers investigating the serious charges leveled against him.

If the Board, in its April 30 meeting, received additional evidence , facts or testimony that would contradict the findings of the independent investigation, it is incumbent upon the Trustees to reveal that.  As of now, no one outside the Board is privy to any exonerating evidence. The Board cannot hide behind “Executive Session” to shield them from legitimate questions that they should answer.  Unless other evidence outside of the March 17, 2013 report exists, I cannot imagine another scenario in which a majority of LC’s Trustees would have rejected the conclusions of an independent investigation commissioned by the Board itself. That borders on negligence, not to mention a complete and utter abdication of the Trustees’ fiduciary duty to the institution they are supposed to serve and protect.

In voting to retain Joe Aguillard as President of LC, absent any other evidence which has not been publicly divulged, at least a majority of the Board of Trustees ignored or rejected the following findings of the independent investigation:

Our investigation confirms the whistleblower complaints of Dr. Chuck Quarles and Dr. Tim Johnson, and corroborates the Cason’s statements. In light of the information we have to date, we find that (1) Dr. Aguillard intentionally misled the Louisiana College administration, the Board of Trustees, and donors regarding a $10 million pledge from the Cason Foundation, (2) Dr. Aguillard misappropriated Caskey School of Divinity funds for expenses related to LC Tanzania and attempted to hide that misappropriation, and (3) Dr. Aguillard intentionally misled the Louisiana College Board of Trustees and Louisiana College donors regarding promised funding for LC Tanzania. . . .

Based on the actions and misrepresentations of Dr. Aguillard, it is our opinion that the Board of Trustees has more than enough evidence to terminate Dr. Aguillard’s contract on any of these three grounds.  Professional demeanor notwithstanding, Dr. Aguillard has engaged in falsehoods and misrepresented material information to the Board of Trustees on countless occasions.  While it is not our role to recommend to the Board outright that Dr. Aguillard be terminated, we do strongly advise that there is more than enough evidence for such termination to occur. . . .” (full report here)

How many lies is too many? How many “countless occasions” of the President engaging in falsehoods and misrepresenting material information does it take for the Board of Trustees to terminate Dr. Aguillard’s contract or, at the very least, ask for his immediate resignation? In light of the lawyers’ report and in light of all available public information to date (maybe a double secret report has been hidden somewhere in the Bayou), how could the Chairman of LC’s Board of Trustees make the following statement with a straight face (unless he simply does not know the definition of the word “exonerate”):

After a long, thorough investigation, the board has exonerated Dr. Aguillard of all allegations that were brought forward in the whistleblower complaints.”

Peter Lumpkins asks a penetrating question, one I’m quite sure that Trustee Chairman Gene Lee and other Aguillard supporters do not want addressed, ever:

A very simple question remains: how did the trustees come to exonerate the president given the indisputable conclusion the independent investigation confirmed that, given the factual information they collected, the president appeared guilty as charged?”

Indeed, that is the question that needs to be answered by those purporting to be Trustees of Louisiana College. Silence is not an option. To not answer, in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing that has not been publicly refuted, is to tell Louisiana Baptists (as well as other Southern Baptists) that “all is well,” when, in fact, the integrity and reputation of the college — and, by extension, the LBC — is being trampled upon by those who should know better.

Standing before reporters and proclaiming that “the board exonerated Dr. Aguillard of all allegations” is like saying that the jury exonerated O.J. Simpson of all murder charges brought against him. Just because the Simpson jury inexplicably voted to acquit the Juice does not mean that he is innocent. Likewise, just because a majority of the Board of Trustees at Louisiana College inexplicably voted to retain Aguillard as President does not mean that he is “exonerated.” Those are complete fictions that only an L.A. jury or an LA Trustee Board could believe!

37 comments for “Lawyers, Lies, Louisiana College & Denmark

  1. Bill
    May 2, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    It appears to me that the Board at LC is a “ship of fools”

  2. May 2, 2013 at 10:14 AM


    Trust me when I say that whatever words came out of Gene Lee’s mouth were carefully crafted by the majority of trustees that voted to keep him. They are not his words, nor would he ever have uttered them except, as chairman of the trustees, it was his duty to make the announcement. He makes it with a straight face because he is a man of integrity who is fulfilling his duty, not as a man who believes anything he was saying was actually true.

    SBC Historian

    • Keith Hudson
      May 2, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      A man of integrity does not impart an untruth no matter who is behind the scenes

      • May 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        Keith, I am going to take a stab in the dark and guess you don’t actually know Gene Lee. If I’m wrong, please correct me. But your comment implies that Gene is not a man of integrity. That could not be further from the truth. As chairman, his job is to read the statement approved by a majority of the members of the Board of Trustees. That doesn’t mean he has to agree with it or believe it is actually true.

    • May 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM


      I’ve been out today at a National Day of Prayer Luncheon, so haven’t been able to respond sooner. Keith has already beat me to the punch with his spot-on comment. If Gene Lee, even if he was instructed to make a statement in his official capacity as Board Chairman, did so knowing that what he was saying is untrue, I don’t know how to square that with your contention that he is “a man of integrity.” Perhaps he is, but I simply can’t comprehend how someone would issue a statement that they know to be false. If you can help me with that, I would appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by and God bless,


      • May 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        I’m going off memory of the video I saw, but I believe the statement read that the board exonerated Joe of all charges. That is a true statement. That is the action/vote the board took. What i am trying to communicate (though apparently i have not been successful) is that Gene does not believe Joe is innocent or should have been exonerated. He believes Joe is guilty as the day is long. But he accurately reported the events of the meeting, and the words he used (I’d bet my last dollar) were written by the majority that kept Joe in power. Hope that better explains what i’ve been trying to say.

  3. May 2, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    There is a difference between the phrases “the Board at LC” and “the majority of persons who comprise the Board at LC”. In your comment, you have unfortunately inserted the first phrase when the second one is the appropriate nomenclature.

  4. Bennett Willis
    May 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Law and legal reports: The right words used in the right ways. A take off on someone’s definition of poetry being the best words used in the best ways. 🙂

  5. James
    May 2, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    It is true, only half the board agrees with the decision. Three of whom are resigning.

    • May 2, 2013 at 1:35 PM


      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. In light of the report of the law firm and given the fact that a majority of LC’s Trustees apparently disregarded the report and, given that there has been no other report or evidence made known outside of the Board which would have refuted the report’s findings, I think that this is an issue in which I would resign if I were a Trustee who was in the minority. I could not in good conscience support the majority of the Board, much less support the President of the College. At this point, I would not blame — and, in fact, would applaud — any LC Trustees who resigned over this sordid mess. Thanks again for stopping by and God bless,


  6. May 2, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Excellent points and questions. Many of us are at a loss for words regarding the whole LC debacle. Truth appears to be nowhere on the table for the majority of those entrusted with LC. My husband has been writing on the issues on his blog for a couple years ( It is simply amazing to watch multiple facts be revealed which show Aguillard’s lack of character … only to for them to be completely disregarded. These trustees appear to be serving a god to whom truth, honesty and integrity matter not.

    • May 2, 2013 at 2:21 PM


      I had not followed the LC controversy closely until yesterday. After reading the law firm’s report (including their findings) following their independent investigation that was commissioned by the Board of Trustees, I could not believe how any Board — much less a Board comprised of Christians — could continue to support anyone who has intentionally misled them “on countless occasions.” Shouldn’t once be enough for the President of a Christian college? The Trustees’ actions (or at least the majority of them) on Tuesday certainly does raise questions about truth, honesty, and integrity. And, the answers don’t appear to be good. Thanks for taking the time to share today. God bless,


      • May 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Welcome to Louisiana Baptist politics. There’s no room for truth, honesty, and integrity when authority, power, and prestige are up for grabs. And this is precisely what happens when you have the Executive Director of the LBC as an ex officio member of every LBC entity board. He controls the purse strings of the state convention, and almost everyone who voted with him to keep Joe in power were pastors who didn’t want to ruin their chance to kiss Hankins’ backside.

        • May 2, 2013 at 2:33 PM


          I had always heard that secular politics in Louisiana were corrupt, but it’s sad when this kind of politics infects the church. Having just rotated off the Executive Board of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, I can tell you that our policies and procedures are completely different. Our Executive Director, Dr. Joe Bunce, repeatedly reminded Board members that he was a servant of the churches and that he answered to us. That’s as it should be, whether in NM or LA. If pastors — God-called servants of the churches — think more about the approval of men and future jobs than they think about representing the name of Jesus Christ with honesty and integrity — regarless of the earthly consequences — then it’s past time that these type of “men” get out of the ministry. Not only to they destroy the witness of Christ to Christians within the church, but they tarnish the name of Jesus with those unbelievers outside the church. Power does indeed corrupt. What a sad and pathetic illustration of that truth that we see at LC. Thanks again for the dialogue. God bless,


          • May 2, 2013 at 2:37 PM

            David is one of the least humble men I know, and he certainly doesn’t act as if he’s subservient to churches in his state. Just a few days ago, he called a pastor and yelled at him. The pastor, who was not intimidated at all, told David to either change his tone or he would hang up. David Hankins makes me ashamed to be a Southern Baptist. Glad to know it’s not like everywhere in the SBC.

          • May 2, 2013 at 11:13 PM

            We were blessed to be led in Iowa by Jimmy Barrentine – the kind of humble servant-leader you describe your exec to be. May their tribe increase in the SBC.

          • May 2, 2013 at 11:42 PM


            I think you nailed it when you said “servant-leader.” I know that state conventions like Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and others in the southeast are much larger than Iowa and New Mexico combined. I have no doubt that it takes a strong leader to do an effective job. However, I think too many leaders at all levels of SBC life — local church, association, state convention, and national convention — have forgotten that they are servants first and foremost. If and when Christian leaders forget that indispensable part of the job, then it’s time for them to step aside. I think that Barrentine’s and Bunce’s tribe will increase when grassroots Southern Baptists elect/nominate men and women who are servant-leaders and not just glorified CEOs. Thanks for sharing that about your state exec. I do hope their tribe increases. God bless,


      • May 4, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        Exactly, Howell. Even just *one* impropriety should have been enough to raise eyebrows in this case and bring about a serious seeking of answers. Yet multiple issues don’t even cause people to question, especially those entrusted with power. My husband was head of LC’s art department for almost 4 years, until it was clear he would not follow Aguillard’s lead. Once you cross Aguillard, your neck is on the line. It is effective for keeping the faculty in check. My husband tried, during his tenure at LC, to speak to VP’s and Aguillard about the slippery ethics which he refused to be a part of. Ultimately, he wrote and we sent out many letters to Trustees and large churches in LA- both by mail and e-mail. Let’s just say his Open Letter to Louisiana Baptists did not go over well-at all. (It’s documented on his blog.)The main contention of his letter being that we ought to seek to please God over man and be honest and transparent, neither of which characterized LC. We have never been in such a spiritually sick environment and are very glad that were were able to finally leave and come back home (CA). It boggles the mind how so many can sleep at night.

        • May 4, 2013 at 10:45 PM


          Thanks for sharing some of the background that you and your husband had at LC. I checked out his blog and saw that Rondall was on faculty for almost four years at LC. I figured that something had transpired — most likely involving Aguillard — that ended his employment at LC. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that LC is a “spiritually sick environment.” I’m quite sure that one vote to “exonerate” Aguillard is not going to heal what ails LC. It will take a Holy Spirit house cleaning that will be anything but easy. Hopefully there are enough Trustees and enough grassroots Louisiana Baptists who will stand firm and say, “enough!” Not having had a dog in this fight, my mind has truly been boggled at the facts of this case that are publicly known. One can only imagine what it would do to one’s mind to find out some of the facts that are not yet known. But, that which is now hidden will come to light, sooner or later. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts on this sad tale. God bless,


  7. May 2, 2013 at 1:01 PM


    As usual a very good analysis. I only hope our beloved trustee system has not become so fundamentally skewed, we cannot pull ourselves out of this discouraging deep ditch into which we seemed to have fallen.

    I read with righteous anger (I think) the “BIG” announcement yesterday about LC receiving a new $10M donation as if money is the remedy to halt LC’s spiral downward. No, my dear trustee brothers and sisters. No. There’s not enough money in Louisiana that can plug a leaky institutional hole when the leaky hole is not the lack of collecting money but the moral corruption of men.

    • May 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM


      You are exactly right about the money. I was going to mention that in my article, but it was running long as it is. As an inconsistent Calvinist :-), I don’t believe in accidents, coincidences, or luck. What, then, to make of the $10 million dollar anonymous donation to the school that was announced on the same day that the majority of LC’s Trustees voted to retain Aguillard as President? Perhaps this is all in God’s timing, but I find the timing and the amount of the donation curious. Maybe all of this is completely above board, but the perception is not good. The reality, if we dig, might be even worse. But, as a church member said earlier today, this whole mess is being watched by a lost world and what they are seeing at LC is a defamation of the name of Christ. This is truly disgraceful and a sad commentary on the corruption of men. Thanks for your reporting on this and for stopping by. God bless,


  8. Pastor James
    May 2, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    As someone familiar with the situation, I would say that the chairman, Gene Lee, has been mischaracterized. He is NOT and Aguillard supporter. He commissioned the law firm’s report. He brought forth the charges against Aguillard. He was one of the three out of seven trustees on a special committee to investigate the charges who DID find that Aguillard was in the wrong. He was only unfortunate enough to be the one responsible for reporting the actions of the board.

    One further note: During the board meeting, the trustees were informed that a $10M plodge was given the school. It was announced Wednesday. That’s an odd thing to bring up in such a meeting, unless it amounts to bribery to keep the current president. Something really does smell rotten in Pineville.

    • May 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Pastor James,

      Thanks for the clarification about Gene Lee. As I mentioned in a comment to SBC Historian, if Gene Lee disagreed with the Board’s vote and if he knew that the statement that he was making was not true (or that he himself did not believe it), then integrity would have demanded that he decline to make the statement. Surely one of Aguillard’s supporters could have made the statement, especially if the Board crafted the statement. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I hopefully would never allow myself to be put in a position where I had to make a public statement that I knew, or had reason to know, was not true. As to the $10 million donation, I mentioned in my comment to Peter that I thought the amount and the timing of the donation was curious. Even if “bribery” could not be proven (and I think it would be hard to), I think that the perception that this surprise $10 million donation influenced how Trustees voted cannot be dismissed. Of course, there are a lot of perceptions — both true and untrue — that people have in the wake of the Board’s vote to retain Aguillard as President. And, most of those perceptions have a rotten smell to them! Thanks for the comment and for stopping by. God bless,


      • Pastor James
        May 3, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        It was revealed yesterday that the donor is a member of the board who supports Aguillard. It is certain that there is no coincidence about the timing of the announcement DURING a board meeting to determine Dr. A’s fate.

        • May 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM

          Pastor James,

          That’s what we would call an “appearance of impropriety.” Of course, this could also be evidence of impropriety in fact. As Christians — particularly leaders like Trustees and college Presidents — we should do our best to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It would seem that that ethical/moral ship sailed long ago at LC and with the President in question. Who thinks that it would be proper to announce that during a Board meeting in which the embattled President was facing termination? Who believes that announcing the $10 million donation, while acting as if everything was swell at LC, was proper? Oh, that’s right. The same people that thought it proper to ignore the report of the law firm which found that Aguillard misled the Trustees “on countless occasions.” If I were lied to once, much less countless times, I would not have faith in a person to be dog catcher, much less President of a Christian college. It does make one wonder what the majority of Trustees were thinking. But, at least we have an idea of how much their souls allegedly cost the devil 😉 Thanks and God bless,


  9. Max
    May 2, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    I’m surprised that the report from the legal firm was not sealed for 15 years from public view … to follow SBC precedent ;^). Considering this and actions taken or not taken by the trustees at other SBC entities, makes me wonder “how the heck do some of these folks end up as trustees in the first place?!” The world loves this stuff … for us to air our dirty clothing in public. At this rate, the SBC is quickly becoming a by-word and a reproach. Folks, we have a leadership crisis in the SBC.

    • May 2, 2013 at 2:49 PM


      Hope you are doing well. You hit the nail on the head when you said “we have a leadership crisis in the SBC.” We have Trustees at the state and national level who have forgotten (if they ever knew) that they have a fiduciary duty to protect serve the institution/entity, not the President of that institution/entity or college, in the case of LC. I’m not sure that our Trustee process is working. The malfunction, which we have seen clearly in the LC situation, starts with the selection/nomination of the Trustees. “How the heck do some of these folks end up as trustees in the first place?” You and I both know the answer to that question. It’s who you know, how big your church is, and how many palms that you’ve greased or backs that you’ve slapped. That doesn’t apply to everyone, but ther have been too many examples of incompetent trustees serving our institutions who were more interested in power and prestige rather than in serving. Unless and until grassroots Southern Baptists (or Louisiana Baptists) stand up and say “enough is enough,” then these ethical/moral lapses will continue. And, we will have no one to blame for becoming “a by-word and a reproach” but ourselves. Thanks again for the good word and God bless,


      • May 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        The process you mention continues in Louisiana, specifically for filling empty spots on the LC board. There were 4 vacancies that needed to be filled before the next trustee meeting in the summer (or fall, not sure which one). Members of the Committee on Nominations were calling potential people and asking them if they were interested in serving as trustees at LC. If they said yes, then they were asked two additional questions (paraphrased, but accurate): 1. Do you support David Hankins and his leadership of the LBC, and 2. Do you support Joe Aguillard and his leadership of LC. They only want cronies who will keep the status quo in the LBC.

        • May 2, 2013 at 4:10 PM


          I would say that I am surprised by the process employed in Louisiana (and probably other places as well), but this is par for the course. What about asking potential nominees if they will support and serve the best interests of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and Louisiana College, irrespective of who is Executive Director or President? Cronyism is alive and well throughout the SBC. And, to try to hide the cronyism, old boy network, and shennanigans at work, many Trustee Boards are all too willing to enter into “Executive Session.” I think that there are very limited times where Executive Session is proper. Most of the time, Executive Session is used as a way to keep confidential that which rank-and-file Baptists would find appalling. It’s time that the sun — and the Son — shone on what is taking place in the dark, behind closed doors, at LC and other places in SBC land. But, until the grassroots and those men and women of integrity already in positions of power are willing to stand up to the status quo — even if it will cost them those same positions of power — we will continue to see business as usual. And, that business stinks to high heaven! God bless,


  10. May 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    The “cousins ” learn to play “all in the family ” soon enough at all levels including Trustees . We can spend better at home instead of firing here and sending dough to non-existing missionaries in foreign countries where it can’t be traced . We’ll be a failure until we get a handle on things .

  11. Ann
    May 2, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Hankins will turn on Joe eventually, but probably not until after SACS drops the hammer. Joe did David’s bidding (and thus secured his job for the time being) by getting rid of the three young calvinistic-leaning professors, which ultimately led to Quarles’ departure also. For all of that, Joe gets to keep his job for now.

  12. LC tuition payer
    May 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    The source of the $10 million donation is a current LC trustee.

  13. John
    May 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Darn (for the sake of propriety) I hate “evil shepherds.”

    • May 3, 2013 at 2:54 PM


      Too bad that the majority of Trustees at LC were not worried about propriety or the appearance of impropriety when they voted to retain and “exonerate” Aguillard and when one of the Trustees even announced his $10 million pledge to LC, under the leadership of Joe Aguillard, in the middle of the meeting called to vote on the President’s termination. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. It does make you almost want to use words that are inappropriate 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and God bless,


  14. May 3, 2013 at 4:54 PM


    What is interesting is that Aguillard refused to provide evidence supporting his supposed innocence to the neutral law-firm conducting investigation but would give evidence to the 7 person special comm board stacked with “yes men,” one of whom was David Hankins. Also, that special committee did not allow either of two Vice Presidents to testify, only Aguillard and his lawyer(s). Even with this stacked, botched, committee… Tony Perkins, Jack Hunter (lawyer), and Glen Wilkins voted to affirm Aguillard’s guilt in lying and misappropriating funds. Unbelievable. Louisiana Baptists need to remove Aguillard and Hankins before any sort of health and responsible behavior will return to Louisiana.

    • May 3, 2013 at 5:09 PM


      The more that I read about this whole sordid affair, the stronger the stench coming from Pineville. It appears that Dr. Aguillard was given ample opportunity to be interviewed by the New Orleans’ law firm conducting the independent investigation, but he repeatedly declined to be interviewed. I would also assume that any exculpatory evidence that he or his lawyer had would have been gladly received by the investigators. Now, following the April 30 vote, we are told that an inch-thick folder of evidence exists which completely exonerates Dr. Aguillard. For the record, I’m not buying it. It has been reported that one of the Trustees was actually the anonymous donor of the $10 million. Can you corroborate that information? If that is true, this Trustee/Donor was represented by the same attorney as Aguillard. Can anyone say “conflict of interest” or “appearance of impropriety?” This is a mess that cannot be swept under the rug. And, even $10 million will not be able to cover the smell coming from LC. Thanks for your posts on this. God bless,


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