Judge Rules Bakker Fit to Continue Trial

From Associated Press

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Jim Bakker competent to stand trial on fraud charges after a government psychiatrist testified that the PTL founder was not going crazy when he broke down last week.

Bakker's trial was recessed and he was sent to a federal prison in Butner for psychiatric evaluation last week after he was found in his lawyer's office apparently hallucinating and hiding under a couch.

"For the first time in three years, the whole situation came home to him, and he began to cry," Dr. Sally Johnson, chief of psychiatric services at the prison, told U.S. District Judge Robert Potter.

Feeling Normal Stress

"He is not going crazy," Johnson testified. "He has no hidden mental illness. The stress that he's feeling is normal. I can't rule it out that it won't happen again, but I can't rule it in either."

Potter asked Bakker, 49, who was brought to court in leg irons and handcuffs, to stand, and asked:

"Do you understand what you are on trial here for?"

"Yes sir," Bakker responded.

When asked if he was able to assist his lawyers, Bakker said: "I'm very tired, but I believe I can."

Bakker showed little emotion, sometimes hanging his head and staring at the floor.

Potter denied defense lawyers' motions for a continuance and for a dismissal, and he ordered that the trial be resumed. The judge ordered also that Bakker be released from federal marshals' custody.

Bakker, who resigned from the PTL ministry in 1987 during a sex-and-money scandal, went on trial Aug. 28 on conspiracy and fraud charges.

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