Tammy Faye Bakker Gets Divorce, Custody of Son, 16

From Associated Press

Tammy Faye Bakker was granted a divorce Friday from her husband, former television evangelist Jim Bakker, who is serving an 18-year prison sentence for fraud and conspiracy in his PTL ministry.

Circuit Court Judge Hal S. McClamma also awarded Mrs. Bakker, 48, custody of the couple’s 16-year-old son, James Clarke Bakker.

The Bakkers were married on April 1, 1961, in Minnesota. Mrs. Bakker now lives in Orlando, Fla., but the divorce was filed in Tallahassee because that is the home of her lawyer, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice B. K. Roberts.


Bakker, 52, began serving a 45-year prison sentence in 1989 for his role in a financial scandal involving PTL. An appeals court later threw out the sentence, and a judge last year cut the term to 18 years. Bakker will be eligible for parole in 1995, four years earlier than under his previous sentence.

Bakker, who founded the PTL ministry, resigned in 1987 amid a sex-and-money scandal involving former New York church secretary Jessica Hahn.

Jim Toms, a Hendersonville, N.C., attorney who represents Bakker, said Thursday that Mrs. Bakker wanted the divorce because she could not bear the separation and the uncertainty of when her husband might be released.

Officials at the federal prison in Rochester, Minn., said requests for comment from Bakker must be made in writing and would not be answered for at least 48 hours.