During a press conference before a speech last night at American University, former PTL president Richard Dortch offered neither revelation nor apology regarding his years at PTL but admitted, "Mistakes were made."
Dortch, who was facing an audience for the first time since April, is beginning a lecture tour of college campuses, and AU was the first stop.
Flanked by his attorney, Bill Diehl, who deflected every question pertaining to the PTL scandal, Dortch said he could not tell his story because of a federal investigation into the PTL empire.
Dortch said the events of the past five months have left him emotionally drained. "I'm not trying to gain your sympathy by saying this," he told reporters, "but I'm just now getting out of the crying mode."
In a 30-minute speech to about 250 AU students, Dortch defended television evangelists, but contended that the strength of religious television often creates its weaknesses.
"One can easily begin to believe that he can do no wrong on the air," Dortch said. "A television preacher gets on a roll, and there's all this acclaim, hundreds of thousands of letters of support, and he doesn't know what to do ... He feels like he has to make the stories bigger and better each time he tells them ..."
Chris Aluotto, an AU student and member of the campus' Kennedy Political Union, which sponsored the speech, said Dortch's speaking agency called the university in July and said Dortch wanted to speak there. He said the two parties had agreed to keep Dortch's fee confidential.
The only real moment of revelation came when Dortch admitted that he and his family regularly watch a popular "Saturday Night Live" spoof of a television ministry.
"I always watch 'Church Chat.' I find it extremely interesting and very funny. And it's so real, it's absolutely incredible."