The wife of megachurch evangelist Joel Osteen told jurors Friday she was "dumbfounded" and "shook up" after a flight attendant accused her of assaulting her over a spill on a first-class seat. Victoria Osteen, in court because the flight attendant is suing her, said she pushed no one and even ended up cleaning the spill that sparked the incident herself.
Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown claims Victoria Osteen grabbed, elbowed and pushed her before the start of a 2005 flight to Vail, Colo. Victoria Osteen and her husband, who also had been on board and testified earlier Friday, denied that account.
"I love people. I'm guilty of that," Victoria Osteen said.
Dressed in an orange pant suit, Victoria Osteen was animated while testifying, often moving her hands while she talked. A couple of times during her testimony, she cried.
Joel Osteen called the incident "an unfortunate misunderstanding." He testified that his wife never raised her voice or grabbed the flight attendants, though he said he could not hear his wife's voice from his seat.
"We would never disrespect authority or disrespect" the flight attendant, Joel Osteen said.
The couple are co-pastors of Houston's Lakewood Church, a converted basketball arena that draws about 42,000 people each week for services. Joel Osteen's weekly television address is broadcast nationally and internationally and he has written books that have been sold around the globe.
On Thursday, another flight attendant on the plane, Maria Johnson, testified that Victoria Osteen demanded special attention to clean up a half-dollar-sized spill on her armrest.
When Victoria Osteen didn't get her way, Johnson testified, the passenger became verbally and physically abusive to both flight attendants. She said Osteen eventually grabbed Brown by the shoulders, elbowed her in the chest and pushed her out of the way in an attempt to get into the cockpit.
But both Joel and Victoria Osteen, who were called to the witness stand by Brown's attorney, disputed Johnson's testimony.
Victoria Osteen said when she first told a flight attendant about the spill, she was handed some napkins. She said she responded, "'It's not my job.' I didn't say it in an ugly tone of voice."
Victoria Osteen denied Johnson's claim that she later grabbed Johnson and pulled her in order to have her see the spill.