D’Souza denounces reports; “World” stands by its story

Yesterday, Dinesh D’Souza responded on FOXNews.com to the World magazine report (see my CWR post) that he was divorcing his wife, that he had become engaged before the divorce was finalized, and that he and his fiancée “apparently” shared a room together at a hotel in North Carolina following a conference featuring D’Souza as keynote speaker. D’Souza explained that he and his wife, Dixie, have been separated for two years, that he met Denise Joseph three months ago, and that nothing improper has taken place, saying that either World magazine reporter Warren Smith or conference organizer Alex McFarland must be “lying”: “one of them made up the quotation attributed to me that we stayed in the same room but ‘nothing happened.’  This is pure libel.” He also states:

I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.  Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.

D’Souza suggests the World piece was motivated by a “vendetta” originating with Marvin Olasky, editor of the magazine and former provost of King’s College. Olasky, according to D’Souza and other sources, strongly opposed the hiring of D’Souza as president of the school in 2010, and resigned from his post a few months later. “Having nursed his grievance for two years,” claims D’Souza, “now apparently Olasky is using World to continue his vendetta.” He concludes with a strongly worded denunciation of the story:

Ultimately this is not just about Olasky or even World magazine.  It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching. Is this how we love and treat fellow believers? If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?  Instead, here is a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry.  This is viciousness masquerading as righteousness.  And this is the behavior that is truly worthy of Christian condemnation.

Christianity Today reports today that Smith stands by his story:

Smith said any speculation that World published its report as a vendetta against D’Souza and TKC is irresponsible.

“It is simply not true,” Smith said. “It’s a story we did not pursue, but once we came across it, we made a pretty straightforward journalistic determination that this is a newsworthy story.”

Smith said conference organizers McFarland and Tony Beam observed D’Souza’s “highly irregular” behavior and shared the information with Smith, who was speaking at the same event.

Neither McFarland nor Beam could be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Smith said World’s decision to pursue the story was journalistic in nature.

“The way we made the ultimate decision was by asking this question: If it was the president of some other Christian college, would we pursue this story?” he said.

Smith added, “We are 100 percent confident in our reporting.” D’Souza also reiterated he had not been aware of how the timing of divorces and engagements were usually handled in “Christian circles”:

“I believe I have good biblical grounds for divorce and was going through the legitimate process,” said D’Souza. “The thing I will admit: I did not have any idea that it is seen as wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced even though separated. … That was a true error of judgment, but it was truly a case where I didn’t know better.”

“My purpose was to put our relationship on a legitimate and honorable foundation,” said D’Souza. “I’m a college president at King’s and a public figure as a Christian apologist, and I thought it very important that any woman I appear with have a legitimate relationship with me.”

When CT asked D’Souza directly for his response to charges of infidelity, he responded: “It’s absolutely not the case that [pause] …. Look, the issue here is that World is attributing to me an admission that I never made—is attributing to me a quotation that I never said. That to me is the problem. … They are just claiming based upon my non-assertion that I did something that I didn’t do.”

D’Souza also told CT that if King’s College does wish to part ways, he is willing to “move on and do something else. I’ve got plenty to do.” Sources indicate that the school’s board of directors are meeting today to discuss the situation.

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About Carl E. Olson 1190 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.