Transcript for Televangelist Jim Bakker goes on trial, charged with fraud and conspiracy: Part 8
I want to tell my husband how much I love him today. I want to tell him to be a strong soldier. Honey, this is for you today. Don't you dare give up. Hang in there! ?????? It has been a long road for the television evangelist Jim Bakker. Bakker went on trial today charged with fraud and conspiracy. ??? You're safe in his arms ??? You know, we hold our heroes up. But boy when they fall, we want to jump all over it. It was a melee. I mean you couldn't believe how many crews were down there fighting for the interviews, fighting for the shots. You guys, you want a live interview? I'm here because I want to see him tell his story. He's been the most maligned man that I've ever heard of. The man did a lot of wrong. I think he should pay the price. One couple showed up in Jim and Tammy Faye masks. The charge was mail and wire fraud. And that has to do with going on the air and -- and essentially making a promise. You'll receive a special membership card that will allow you to stay here in the heritage grand for four days and three nights every year for the rest of your life. And then not fulfilling that promise. Bakker was -- in fact was using the money for other purposes. I like spending money, too. I like clothes, too. I like houses. And I like cars, he ain't doing no different than me. Bakker's trial took place in front of a stern, southern federal judge, Robert potter, whose nickname was maximum Bob." The evidence as it unfolded on the stand was devastating. One of the witnesses the prosecution called was Steve Nelson. Nelson knew that Jim knew that the lifetime partnership program was oversold. As Jim Bakker's lawyer cross-examined Steve Nelson. At one point, Nelson actually collapsed on the stand. When he fainted, it was this silence. And I was setting -- a voice from the audience came, "Ooh, he's giving his life to god." And Bakker's attorney called him up, "Jim, Jim," as if there's gonna be a miracle. He can bring him back to life. I looked up and saw Jim Bakker squatting down behind everybody and he was praying aloud. Jim literally thought that he died. That really pulled the plug on his -- his grip on reality at the time. Bakker later broke down in the hallway sobbing to his attorney not to leave him, still visibly shaken as he left. Nelson was taken to a hospital where he was treated for an intestinal illness and released. He's supposed to be in court. And apparently, he was in his lawyer's office. He later said that he was hallucinating, that the reporters outside the courtroom looked to him like giant bugs. He was curled up underneath his attorney's couch. I think the weight of that trial and the weight of everything that he had done, good and bad, just crushed him. Jim Bakker had a psychological breakdown. Bakker and his team wanted to have him treated at a local private hospital. But judge Robert potter was having none of this. And he had Bakker committed to a federal prison psychiatric ward. It was horrific. It was sad, actually. Move back! I remember asking people, where are you taking me, where am I going? This voice said, gym, don't let them you. I remember thinking it was too late. It was very convincing to most people. But for those who knew the showman and the actor in Jim Bakker, they thought, well, this could be the best act of his life. I know it's a sympathy stunt. I have no compassion for him. Quite frankly, I look at it like a piece of Swiss cheese, full of holes and just as rank. I didn't think that was an act. I believed him. Of course, they had to put the trial on hold. How you feeling Mr. Bakker? Jim has been manhandled. He's been strip searched. He's been paraded. He's been treated like a freak at a carnival show. It was anxiety, not insanity which caused the breakdown of television evangelist Jim Bakker. Looking better today Mr. Bakker. I've got the flu. So I'm a little -- besides being in a mental institution. So I'm glad to be out of that. Jim Bakker comes back. And he actually takes the stand. It shocked everybody. How do you feel about testifying today? Wonderful, thank you. The prosecutor had a field day, picked him apart like -- like roadkill. This was far and away the easiest fraud case I ever prosecuted. This was a fraud case where the fraud was on video tape. It was a lock tight case. I was in the courtroom. And the judge was reading off the charges. I remember that moment was just very dramatic because guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. And it -- it just kept adding on. Jim Bakker guilty on all 24 counts of wire and mail fraud and conspiracy. Maximum Bob gave him 45 years. I think you can murder somebody in this country and be out in about 10 or 12 if you're good. And here we got 45 years which was a little excessive. I think they sent an innocent man to prison. He should be free preaching the gospel. He should have had to live in that air-conditioned doghouse for the remainder of his life. We understand that they will be coming out the courtroom in just a moment. You see a rather frenzied environment behind us. Here's Jim Bakker. Right here. It's just a little pandemonium right here. I have a song for you. ??? On Christ the rock I stand ??? It was classic Tammy Faye. Was both empathetic, and -- and kind of pathetic, right? You don't know how to respond, except what? It's not over til it's over. When Jim left to go to prison, we were left with $1000 to our name. I mean who would hire Tammy Faye Bakker? Before people invite something new into their
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