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Church settles suit over firing of secretary who traded sex e-mails with Jeremiah Wright


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A 39-year-old former Dallas church secretary who traded sexual e-mails with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has settled her wrongful-termination lawsuit against Friendship-West Baptist Church.

Elizabeth Payne, 39, of North Richland Hills, had worked as executive assistant to Friendship-West's senior pastor, the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, for about seven months when she was fired in August 2008.

Payne, who is Hispanic, contends that she lost her job because of racism by the mostly African-American staff at the church. She also alleged that she was fired after church leaders discovered that she had been trading sexual e-mails with Wright, whom she had met during one of his trips to Dallas.

Wright, former pastor to Barack Obama, is a longtime mentor to Haynes. Payne's and Wright's e-mails, introduced as evidence in the civil case, were written in 2008, about the time Wright's extremist views nearly derailed Obama's presidential campaign.

Haynes, in a deposition, and Friendship-West's lawyers have said in court documents that Payne was fired for poor job performance. They denied race was a factor. They also say she spoke to the media in connection with one of Wright's visits to Friendship-West, which was against church policy.

Church officials have denied knowing about her correspondence with Wright before she was fired.

Payne and Friendship-West reached an undisclosed settlement Wednesday in the lawsuit, which was filed in March 2009. The trial was to begin Monday in federal court in Dallas.

Payne's lawyer, Susan E. Hutchison of Grapevine, said the parties agreed not to talk about the settlement.

The church's lawyer, Faith Simmons Johnson of Irving, did not return calls or e-mails Friday.
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The church's lawyer, Faith Simmons Johnson of Irving...


The lawyer's name is Faith? Hispanics discriminated against by blacks. Race wasn't a factor, but sex content is. Obama's minister tied in. I would say shocking, but I think falls into business as usual these days.

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