Bakker Plans To Rebuild TV Ministry in Florida
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Defrocked PTL leader Jim Bakker is staying at a Florida retreat for ministers suffering from emotional distress and plans to re-establish his TV ministry while awaiting his fraud and conspiracy trial, a retreat official said Saturday.
″We extended an invitation to him,″ said the Rev. John Dawsey, chairman of the board of directors of the Lake George Ministries Retreat in the tiny community of Lake George, Fla., about 40 miles west of Daytona Beach.
Dawsey, who is pastor of the Church of God in the nearby community of Salt Springs, Fla., said Bakker arrived Wednesday at the 30-acre retreat.
Under terms of his bail, he was allowed to travel to Florida. On Friday, a federal magistrate in Charlotte gave him permission to move there.
Dawsey would not say whether Bakker’s wife, Tammy Faye, or other family members were staying at the retreat.
″It’s a place for ministers to come and rest and recuperate,″ Dawsey said in a telephone interview. ″Most pastors that come here have been hurt or devastated or have emotional problems or distress.″
Bakker received the go-ahead to move to Florida after U.S. Magistrate Paul Taylor was told Bakker has found a location in Lake George to live and to broadcast the ″Jim and Tammy″ show, at least temporarily.
The Bakkers had been broadcasting his show from the living room of their home outside Pineville, N.C., near Charlotte. But they were told the operation violated Mecklenburg County’s zoning ordinance and must cease by May 7.
Bakker resigned from the PTL ministry in March 1987 after a 1980 tryst with a church secretary, Jessica Hahn, and subsequent payments to her were revealed. The Assemblies of God later stripped him of his ministerial credentials, and the PTL ministry filed for protection under the bankruptcy laws.
In December, Bakker and his former top PTL aide, Richard Dortch, were indicted on mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from a 16- month federal grand jury probe into PTL and its fund-raising practices.
Bakker, who is free on $50,000 bond, must agree to conditions outlined by Taylor, according to court documents obtained by The Charlotte Observer.
Bakker cannot leave Florida without permission from court officials and he must maintain weekly and monthly contact by telephone and in person with court officials in Jacksonville.
Dawsey said the retreat had no broadcasting facilities and couldn’t comment on where Bakker planned to tape his show.
Neither Bakker nor his attorney could be reached for comment Saturday. Dawsey said Bakker would not take telephone calls at the retreat. There was no answer Saturday at the Charlotte home of Bakker attorney Harold Bender.