Evangelist Marvin Gorman filed a $90-million lawsuit Tuesday accusing fellow evangelist Jimmy Swaggart of trying to bankrupt Gorman's television ministry by spreading tales of sexual misconduct.
Gorman said in the lawsuit filed in state District Court that he committed "an immoral act" with a woman in 1979. But he said he had repented and felt he was forgiven by God.
He said in the lawsuit that he resigned in July as pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in New Orleans after Swaggart joined church officials in a conspiracy to defame him.
After Gorman resigned, the lawsuit alleges that Swaggart and church officials of the First Assembly of God insisted that Gorman leave "the ministry in its entirety, going into rehabilitation for two years and leaving Marvin Gorman Ministries Inc., and others depending on its existence, for bankruptcy."
Gorman continues to head Marvin Gorman Ministries at his television studio in suburban New Orleans.
Swaggart did not return numerous telephone calls seeking comment.
Gorman's lawyer, Tommy Frasier, alleged that Swaggart was making an attempt to win over Gorman's followers--and their money.
"Somebody somewhere wants to be the only spokesman for God, the only one who receives the tithings for God," Frasier said at a news conference at Gorman's studio. Gorman attended with his family, but he made only a brief opening statement.
Frasier said Swaggart and Swaggart's wife, Frances, telephoned members of the First Assembly last summer and told them that Gorman had had affairs with numerous women.
Copies of Letter
Frasier also distributed copies of a letter he said was written by Swaggart in which Gorman is accused of misconduct with at least two women.
The lawsuit says Swaggart last year persuaded TV evangelist Jim Bakker to remove Gorman's program from Bakker's PTL Network.
Frasier said he knew of no connection between Swaggart's alleged efforts to discredit Gorman and Bakker's current troubles, but that there are parallels.
"Some aggressive young lady entered my client's life at that time (about seven years ago)," Frasier said. "And I understand that's the way the seed was planted with poor Jimmy Bakker."
Swaggart and Jimmy Swaggart Ministries are two of the 15 defendants in the lawsuit. The others include the Missouri-based General Council of the Assemblies of God and various others affiliated with that church.