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Report: Former Co-Host Fletcher Says Bakker Bisexual

December 5, 1988 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A former television preacher says he told a grand jury he had sex with Jim Bakker three times and arranged the fateful tryst with church secretary Jessica Hahn at Bakker’s urging, according to a magazine interview.

John Wesley Fletcher, who appeared on ″The PTL Club″ television program from the mid-1970s to 1981, described Bakker as a bisexual who openly lusted after the show’s young male camera operators.

″I was Jim Bakker’s male prostitute,″ he said in the interview for January’s Penthouse magazine.

Fletcher is the second man to say publicly that he had sex with Bakker. In September, former PTL official Jay Babcock said he had told the grand jury of a sexual encounter with Bakker.

Fletcher said in the interview released Sunday that he related the sexual encounters to the federal grand jury investigating charges that Bakker, Bakker’s wife, Tammy, and PTL aide David Taggart illegally spent contributions to the ministry on their lavish lifestyles.

The grand jury, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., apparently began deliberations today after a 16-month investigation.

Among other things, witnesses have said the jury also is investigating whether ministry funds were used to pay $364,000 in hush money to Ms. Hahn or to entice aides to grant Bakker homosexual favors. The jury has been examining allegations of wire, tax and mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors were in the panel’s meeting room for nearly two hours this morning before returning to their offices and leaving the grand jury alone.

Bakker, the PTL founder, has denied in a sworn deposition that he ever had a homosexual relationship with anyone, and has denied charges of financial wrongdoing.

Two attorneys for Bakker, Jim Toms and Ryan Hovis, issued this statement Sunday in response to the Penthouse report:

″Sadly, some so-called journalists continue to exploit human tragedy by stories such as the one we now understand to be in Penthouse about Mr. Fletcher.

″He has lost his ministry and finances and recently has been hospitalized. We would not want to further add to his difficulties by commenting on the story, and simply point to where it is being published.″

Toms has said he believes it is only a matter of time before the grand jury indicts Bakker.

Fletcher said he participated in homosexual activity with Bakker only reluctantly.

Fletcher said he related allegations about Bakker’s sexual encounters to officials of the Assemblies of God before the Pentecostal denomination defrocked Bakker in May 1987.

Fletcher was removed from the Assemblies of God ministry in 1981 amid accusations of homosexual activity, the magazine said.

Penthouse reported that Fletcher’s psychiatrist confirmed he spent a month in a hospital last spring recovering from a suicide attempt.

Fletcher blamed himself in the interview for setting off PTL’s sex-and-hush money scandal by introducing Hahn to Bakker, even though he said he did so at Bakker’s request. Hahn has charged that Bakker and Fletcher raped her in a Florida hotel room; Fletcher said in the interview that she willingly had sex.

Fletcher also charged that Bakker often threatened suicide to manipulate those around him and was cynical about fund-raising.

″Some of the little old ladies he called ‘Grandma Grunts,’ like here comes another pocketbook,″ Fletcher said.