Televangelist Rev. Marcus Lamb has become the latest preacher to publicly admit to having an affair. However, this disclosure came with an allegation of extortion. Lamb appeared with his wife, Joni Lamb, to admit to an affair on this show “Celebration” and alleged that three people had demanded $7.5 million or they would reveal the affair.
The disclosure came on the couple’s website of Daystar Television Network. On the show, he stated “They’re trying to take our pain and turn it to their gain . . . We’re not going to take God’s money to keep from being humiliated.”
Lamb says that he went to the police with the extortion claim.
The ministry appears to be based in Georgia. Here is the extortion statute that applies in Georgia:
O.C.G.A. § 16-8-16 (2010)
§ 16-8-16. Theft by extortion
(a) A person commits the offense of theft by extortion when he unlawfully obtains property of or from another person by threatening to:
(1) Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
(2) Accuse anyone of a criminal offense;
(3) Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair his credit or business repute;
(4) Take or withhold action as a public official or cause an official to take or withhold action;
(5) Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; or
(6) Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense.
(b) In a prosecution under this Code section, the crime shall be considered as having been committed in the county in which the threat was made or received or in the county in which the property was unlawfully obtained.
(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraph (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subsection (a) of this Code section that the property obtained by threat of accusation, exposure, legal action, or other invocation of official action was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstance to which such accusation, exposure, legal action, or other official action relates or as compensation for property or lawful services.
(d) A person convicted of the offense of theft by extortion shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
HISTORY: Code 1933, § 26-1804, enacted by Ga. L. 1968, p. 1249, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 16.
Option 3 would appear the relevant provision: “Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair his credit or business repute.” Notably, however, adultery is still a crime in Georgia (as raised in option 2). Pursuant to § 16-6-19: “A married person commits the offense of adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.” I have previously written about such adultery laws and how they are presumptively unconstitutional (see also here).
According to his bio, he and his wife live in Dallas. It appears that extortion is simply folded into the theft provision in that state.
If the allegation is true, an extortion charge would appear warranted. None of this, of course, relieves Lamb of the hypocrisy of lecturing people on morality while a practicing adulterer.
There is even a song that goes with this inglorious moment called Now Behold the Lamb of God:
Now behold the Lamb
the Precious Lamb of God
Born into sin that I may live again
He’s the precious Lamb of God
When I always didn’t do right
I went left, He told me to go right
But I’m standing right here
in the midst of my tears, Lord
I claim You to be the Lamb of God