The criminal trials of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling for their roles in the Enron scandal begin today.
The New York Times published an article last week about how a “Big Test Looms for Prosecutors at Enron Trial.” <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
It will certainly test our system of justice to see if it has the means to convict people who can afford to pay a $21 million dollar retainer fee for their defense. For more details see the documentary “Enron–The Smartest Guys in the Room.”
To get a feel for the human toll caused by this corporate scandal, listen to the podcasts of my “Religious Talk” radio interviews with Cathy Peterson. Cathy was my secretary for a number of years, while I was pastor at a church in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Houston. Her husband, Bill, was a Lotus Notes administrator who kept e-mail working for the global empire that Enron built.
Shortly before Enron imploded, Bill was diagnosed with cancer. He was already being treated when Ken Lay advised employees, who were worried about the steep decline in value of Enron stock after Skilling’s departure, that the company was sound. Bill was in the early rounds of chemo-therapy when the company went bankrupt and terminated his health insurance.
Cathy recounts how faith sustained her as she coped with the loss of their home, automobiles and worldly possessions as they faced Bill’s losing struggle with cancer in her 2003 book Flashlight Walking.
In the book she speaks of her, so far, futile attempts to find a congressperson who will sponsor legislation (a “Peterson law“) to prohibit companies, whether solvent or bankrupt, from terminating health benefits for people undergoing treatment for illnesses like cancer.
Recently she wrote a guide for helping others through grief and tragedy called “Call Me If You Need Anything … and Other Things NOT to Say.”
Bruce Prescott is executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. This column appeared previously in his Web log.
Here’s a link to a story about Cathy Peterson in the Dallas Morning News. Her story also appeared on various TV outlets over the weekend and is scheduled for Monday on “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight” and “Nightline.”