Regent U. Student Sues Pat Robertson Over Joke Photo Penalty

A student at Regent University’s law school has sued the school’s founder, TV preacher Pat Robertson, over an unflattering online picture of Robertson the student was compelled to remove.

In September, Adam M. Key posted a photo of Robertson appearing to make an obscene gesture. In fact, Robertson was just scratching his nose with one finger. Key copied the photo from a You Tube video and put it up on his personal page on Facebook, a social networking Web site. He said he did not alter the photograph in any way.

Regent officials ordered Key to remove the picture. He did so, but then wrote about the flap and posted the picture on a university-sponsored e-mail discussion group. At that point, he was suspended from the school for one year.

Key told the Associated Press that the school overreacted.

“Clearly, the picture was of him scratching his face,” Key said. “That’s why it’s funny. Pat Robertson, a public figure who makes ridiculous statements, got caught in a ridiculous position and that was my whole idea of putting it up there.”

Key, who lives in Texas, filed the lawsuit in a federal court there. He asserts that the school has violated his free speech and due process rights by overriding his “Christian religious and political opinions.”

The AP reported that the suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks that Regent officials clear Key’s record. Key’s attorney argues that Regent officials had no right to order him to remove the photo since the Facebook page was not related to the school.

“Robertson should not be allowed to kick out my client who merely wanted to express his religious freedom of speech,” said Randall Kallinen, Key’s attorney.

Judy Baker, a Regent spokeswoman, said the school would have no comment on the lawsuit.

In other news:

• Pat Robertson announced last month that he will cease being the chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) effective immediately.

The move is not expected to have much practical effect. Robertson will continue to appear on the “700 Club” and will continue to serve as CBN’s chairman of the board. His duties as chief executive officer will be assumed by his son, Gordon.

Pat Robertson is now 78, and most observers believe he is planning for his eventual retirement. He apparently hopes to turn over the ministry and the “700 Club” to Gordon, who now cohosts the show.