AP 06/22 1408 PTL By WILLIAM STRACENER Associated Press Writer TEGA CAY, S.C. (AP) -- La
AP 06/22 1408 PTL
By WILLIAM STRACENER Associated Press Writer
TEGA CAY, S.C. (AP) -- Lawyer Melvin Belli said today that a
caretaker should run PTL while he helps Jim and Tammy Bakker
fight to regain the ministry, but the Rev. Jerry Falwell called
their efforts "un-Christian shenanigans" and said God would
decide the battle.
"The odds are very, very much in favor" of the Bakkers
returning to the TV ministry, Belli said Sunday after meeting
with the couple for four hours in the PTL-owned home they are
occupying on Lake Wylie.
Bakker said Sunday for the first time that he wants to regain
control of the ministry he handed over to Falwell in March amid a
Belli, in an interview today before flying back to San
Francisco, where he lives, said Pat Boone would be a good choice
for temporary leader of the 518,0000-member ministry. He said
Boone "has no axe to grind."
Boone, in a statement issued through his manager, Tim Swift,
said no representatives of Falwell or the Bakkers have contacted
him. Boone said he hopes "Jerry and Jim and their attorneys will
get together in a room, close the doors, pray and not come out
until they have a meeting of their hearts and minds and put the
whole thing to rest."
Falwell said in a telephone interview Sunday from his home in
Lynchburg, Va., that the fate of PTL, which owes $72 million, is
in the hands of the bankruptcy court. "I am sure the federal
court will take into consideration that it was under Reverend
Bakker's leadership that the terrible violations which brought
about the virtual collapse of the ministry occurred," he said.
"Most of us who who love Reverend Bakker and who love the PTL
ministry are saddened that he would put himself ahead of the
survival of the ministry," he said. "However, I believe that God
will overrule all this monkey business and will recover this
Falwell added that Bakker had a full week to reconsider
turning the ministry over to its present board.
"It was not until some of his dissident friends encouraged him
to resume leadership at PTL that all of these un-Christian
shenanigans began," Falwell said.
Belli said Sunday that Bakker wasn't properly advised when he
gave up the ministry he founded to Falwell. "Had we been in at
the beginning of this, Jimmy never would have resigned," he said.
Calling Bakker his "finest client" in 53 years of practicing
law, Belli said the defrocked Pentecostal minister's side has not
been told. "We're going to tell it without venom" over the next
two to three days, he said.
Belli, an Episcopalian, said he wants to meet with PTL
officials and the old bord of directors. He also said he would
like to set up a meeting between the Bakkers and Falwell.
Belli, 79, has represented Jack Ruby, who killed John F.
Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald; victims of the Bhopal,
India, chemical leak in 1984; and families of those killed when
the Soviets shot down a Korean Air Lines jet in 1983.
Bakker said Sunday he wanted to make peace but had to seek
legal counsel when the ministry's new leaders filed for
"Our desires and goal is that the ministry continue, that all
creditors be paid 100 percent and that all the partners have
fulfilled the vision that we gave them to have a place for
retreat," Bakker said.
When asked if he expected to resume control of the ministry
despite recent allegations concerning his sex life and spending
practices, Bakker said, "They accused Jesus Christ of the same
thing. They said he was a wine-bibber, that he went out with
publicans and sinners and prostitutes. Just because people
accuse you doesn't change the call of God on your life."
Mrs. Bakker added, "And that doesn't make you guilty,
Meanwhile, contractor Roe Messner said Saturday that he and
other PTL creditors are working on a plan to reorganize the
ministry in case Falwell's plan in federal bankruptcy court does
not call for full payment of debts.
Messner, in a telephone interview from Wichita, Kan., said he
does not care who runs PTL as long as he gets the money he is
due. Messner said the ministry owes him $14 million for work he
did at Heritage USA while Bakker was in charge.
PTL's business managers were given 120 days in which to
present their reorganization plan to the bankruptcy court in
Columbia. The plan must be accepted by a majority of the
creditors, which include contractors and the TV stations that
carry the ministry's program. PTL, which stands for People That
Love, or Praise the Lord, listed 1,400 creditors.
Today, Jessica Hahn, the former church secretary whose sexual
encounter with Bakker seven years ago led to his resignation,
said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program she never had been
paid "hush money" because of the encounter.
Ms. Hahn said she was paid $20,000 plus monthly interest "for
damages," but did not specify what the damages were.
Belli said Ms. Hahn "demeaned herself" by appearing on
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