While preparing for a criminal trial due to begin in January, ousted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has apparently added a new member to his legal team: Jesus, USA Today reported.
Scrushy, 52, who stands accused of orchestrating a $2.7 billion fraud at the medical services company he founded in 1984, has been hosting a half-hour religious talk show every weekday morning since March with his wife Leslie.
The show, called Viewpoint, is supported by the Guiding Light Church, an African-American oriented ministry Scrushy joined last year after attending church for years in his upscale suburb of Vestavia Hills in Birmingham. The Guiding Light Church purchased 12 months of airtime for the show earlier this year.
Some see the show as an effort to influence the local jury pool-nearly 70 percent of the Birmingham population is African-American, USA Today reported.
"I've never seen the show because I don't watch infomercials," Doug Jones, the Birmingham attorney leading a shareholder lawsuit against Scrushy, told USA Today. "It's clear that it's a jury selection strategy, and I guess it will remain to be seen how effective it might be."
Viewpoint looks at a range of issues, including media bias (one of Scrushy's favorite subjects as he sees himself as a victim of media bashing) and self-improvement. The chief subject area though is the Bible and following the word of God, USA Today reported. Guests include local ministers and pastors.
Through his spokesman, Charlie Russell, Scrushy condemned the "defamation" campaign he said had been waged against him, presumably by the U.S. Attorney's office, and the "unfortunate media feeding frenzy" that lumped him with other alleged business malefactors, USA Today reported.
According to a statement from Russell, "Richard was raised in a churchgoing family and was saved at age 11. He felt called to the ministry at age 15 but put that call aside when he moved into teaching and then business. He has regularly attended church throughout his adult life and is married to the daughter of a minister."
Of his show, the statement says, "Viewpoint resulted from Richard finding time on his hands while awaiting trial. He sees the daily television program as a community service, providing uplifting programming while providing access to pastors and others performing essential services in the community which could not find a voice on ordinary commercial television."