CHARLOTTE, N.C., NOV. 17 -- A $758 million lawsuit filed against Jim Bakker and other defendants today charges that contributions to PTL were diverted through foreign bank accounts and payments to nonexistent employes.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of PTL contributors in U.S. District Court here, alleges a massive conspiracy to divert millions of dollars for personal use by Bakker and his former aides. The suit doesn't name PTL, but it charges that Columbia, S.C., lawyer Billy Robinson, the federally appointed bankruptcy adviser, is part of a continuing plot to return control to Bakker.
The 140-page suit reads like a detective novel in places, with references to "The Secret Bank Account" and "The Money Suitcase." Many of the charges echo allegations the Rev. Jerry Falwell made during his six months as PTL's chairman.
Most of the allegations involve previously published information about possible wrongdoing at PTL under Bakker -- the $265,000 in PTL money promised to Jessica Hahn, the over sale of "partnerships" in PTL hotels, the lavish salaries and bonuses paid to Bakker and his aides.
Tom Anderson of Palm Springs, Calif., the lawsuit's lead attorney, said it is designed in part "to get at the truth on many allegations you've been seeing in the press."
Bakker's attorney, Ryan Hovis of Rock Hill, S.C., discounted the allegations.
The plaintiffs are Joseph and Helen Teague of Fort Mill, S.C., and Deborah Watkins of Atlanta, who once asked in bankruptcy court to be named PTL's trustee.