Just like old times: Televangelist Bakker back in court Bakker will take responsibility, but not entirely, his lawyer explains.

August 23, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Bakker was expected to accept responsibility for misleading PTL's faithful today, but it was unclear how far Bakker's admission would go.

One of Bakker's attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, said yesterday that the fallen television evangelist planned to "tell the court he feels completelyresponsible . . . and will accept responsibility for his conduct."

But when asked yesterday if that meant Bakker would own up to intentionally defrauding PTL partners, Dershowitz said, "He's not going to say something that isn't the case," Dershowitz said, leaving court after the first day of Bakker's two-day resentencing hearing. "He's not responsible."

Bakker was originally sentenced to 45 years, but an appeals court overturned that sentence. U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen, who presided over yesterday's hearing, will resentence Bakker.

If Bakker accepts responsibility today, it would be the first time since his conviction in October 1989 on 24 counts of mail and wire fraud. He is accused of bilking followers of up to $150 million.

Inside and outside the court house, it seemed like old times.

In the courtroom, prosecutors spent almost four hours yesterday repeating the highlights of the Bakker's 1989 trial. They played videotapes of Bakker's former television show, including one that showed Bakker crying and pleading for money.

"The cash flow hasn't always been able to catch up with the vision," Bakker says on the tape.

Tammy Bakker, daughter Tammy Sue and other family memberssat in the front row, sometimes giggling at prosecutors' accounts of their lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutor Deborah Smith urged Mullen to give Bakker a "significant" sentence.

But Bakker's faithful supporters were there, too.

They cheered when Jim Bakker stepped from a U.S. Marshal's Service van in shackles at the back of the courthouse. They cheered again when Tammy Bakker stepped from a car at the courthouse curb.

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