NEWS STORY: Focus on the Family Official Resigns Because of Affair

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c. 2000 Religion News Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. _ A top executive and well-known radio personality for the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family has resigned after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman other than his wife.

Mike Trout, 53, the co-host on Focus on the Family President James Dobson’s popular radio program, said in an interview his behavior violated the moral standards the ministry’s employees agree to follow.

Trout, who has been married for 31 years and has three grown daughters, would not discuss details of the relationship. He called the relationship “not a long-term thing” and said it is now over. He said he is still trying to figure out why he got involved with another woman, whom he would not identify.

A Focus on the Family spokesman said the woman does not and has not worked for Focus on the Family, which is based in Colorado Springs.

“I’m greatly saddened,” said Trout, who resigned Oct. 11. “I didn’t work at Focus on the Family for 19 years because of the paycheck or the benefits or the positive environment. I worked at Focus on the Family because I believed in what we were doing. I know that might sound strange, because I violated it.”

The revelation comes at a particularly bad time for Focus on the Family, a $116 million-a-year nonprofit organization that has positioned itself in the last decade as a prominent national voice for conservative values through its many radio programs, publications and political lobbying efforts.

A month ago, another Focus on the Family official, John Paulk, was criticized by both his peers and critics for visiting a gay bar in Washington, D.C., and then lying about it. Paulk, a self-described former homosexual who advocates that gays can change, remains employed at Focus on the Family. Dobson said in a radio program a week ago that Paulk should be forgiven even though he “hurt the cause of Christ.”

Paul Hetrick, a Focus on the Family spokesman, said he didn’t think the group’s credibility would be hurt by either story because it handled both incidents appropriately. He called the reasons behind Trout’s resignation “grievous.”

Trout said getting involved with another woman was hypocritical considering he worked for an organization that stresses the sanctity of marriage. But he said his actions should not reflect badly on Focus on the Family.

“As people think about this situation, reflect on me, don’t reflect on Focus on the Family,” Trout said. “This is exactly what I described it as _ a personal problem, not a corporate problem. This is a cancer in my own life, not in the ministry of Focus on the Family.”

Though best known as Dobson’s on-air sidekick, Trout spent most of his time managing the Focus on the Family broadcast division as a senior vice president, the only person at the ministry to hold that title.

Beginning in 1986, Trout was the announcer and co-host on Focus’ daily half-hour radio broadcast, which reaches an estimated 2 million people in North America. He’s also written two books, one about the radio show and another on a cross-country bike trip. That trip led to a series of bike rallies across the country, “Bike for the Family,” to generate money and publicity for Focus on the Family.

KRE END GORSKI

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