CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Bakker's former bodyguard said a PTL employe told him he had homosexual relations with Bakker to save his job.
"Jim kept hitting on him and he, in his own mind, felt if he turned him down he would be fired," said Don Hardister, bodyguard and personal aide to PTL's founder for 11 years.
"He never told me exactly what happened," said Hardister, who refused to name the man. "I don't have the stomach to ask him."
"I do remember times when his boss wanted to fire him," Hardister said Saturday. "But Jim said, 'Move him anywhere in the ministry, but you cannot fire him.' Looking back, I say there was a problem there.
"He told me he was not the only one," Hardister added.
Hardister said at least four former employes have told him they warded off homosexual advances from Bakker.
"The situations involved Jim trying to touch them," said Hardister. "They were obvious advances -- trying to touch them or asking them to touch him."
Hardister is now a spokesman for PTL, which stands for Praise the Lord or People That Love. The ministry filed for protection from its creditors June 12 under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.
Hardister would not identify any of the men.
"One man said he was at the Bakkers' house and was asked to give a massage," Hardister said of a 10-year employe. "Then Jim reached up and grabbed the guy . . . He jumped back. He said after the incident happened he tried to convince himself it didn't happen."
Bakker, who turned over leadership of the television ministry to the Rev. Jerry Falwell in March after admitting a 1980 sexual fling with former church secretary Jessica Hahn, left Palm Springs, Calif., with his wife Tammy Faye and a moving van bringing possessions to the couple's Gatlinburg, Tenn., home. The Bakkers arrived late Saturday.
Bakker, who has consistently denied charges of homosexuality and was not available for comment on these charges, was defrocked earlier this year by the Assemblies of God church for adultery and "alleged bisexual activities."
Hardister said he frequently guarded the door to Bakker's posh studio office while the PTL chief met for hours with men. He said he thought the meetings were business meetings, but now believes the meetings were sexual liaisons.
"When I was down there in the hall guarding the door, the people had a logical reason for going in there," Hardister said. "They weren't grimy people getting off a garbage truck and going in. They were TV people, upper-management people. Jim would say, 'This is an important meeting and I don't want to be interrupted.' "
Hardister says he is staunchly antihomosexual and says he personally had a number of employes fired when he found out they were gay.
"God did not create Adam and Bruce," Hardister said. He said he is angry that homosexual activity may have occurred while he guarded the door to Bakker's studio office.
"I look pretty stupid, this going on day after day under my nose," he said. "One of the guys said to me, 'You were the perfect cover for all of us.' Because nobody would ever link my name to homosexuality.