A new Reelz Channel documentary, Scandal Made Me Famous, is digging deeper into the Jessica Hahn sex scandal that caused the collapse of a multi-million dollar televangelist empire.
In the '80s, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker rose to fame with their successful TV ministry PTL (Praise the Lord) Club. The program was later titled The Jim and Tammy Show.
The Christian ministry was all but destroyed after a local newspaper discovered that Jim paid $279,000 in hush money to church secretary, Hahn.
The incident took a quick turn after the Charlotte Observer learned that a massive sum was paid to Hahn to keep her quiet after she was allegedly raped by Jim in a hotel room in 1980 when she was just 21-years-old.
Jim would later admit to having sex with Hahn but contended that it was consensual.
The sex scandal was only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the wrongdoings committed by the Bakker's.
The Charlotte Observer Reports Speaks Out
The Jessica Hahn scandal was first uncovered by Charlotte Observer reporter Charles Shepard. In the upcoming episode of Scandal Made Me Famous, Shepard speaks out about the shocking fall of the Bakker TV ministry.
According to Shepard, he was first tipped off by Hahn herself.
"I fielded this call from someone who turned out to be Jessica Hahn telling us that something had happened between her and Jim Bakker," Shepard said.
Hahn claimed that Jim pinned her down in a Tampa, Florida hotel room for an hour and repeatedly said to her: "By helping the shepherd, you're helping the sheep."
While working on the story, Shepard claimed that he was threatened by PTL management several times. In one particular occasion, he said that an executive pulled a gun on him.
"I remember very vividly being in his office, and he pulling a handgun out of his pocket and dropping it on the desk, kind of in front of me, as if to let me know who is in charge and I better be well-behaved," Shepard said.
Shepard's discovery was enough to prompt law enforcement officials to take notice and further investigate the allegations.prevnext
The Downfall of the Bakkers
After the bombshell news that Jim paid Hahn to keep her quiet for an alleged rape, deeper investigation into him and his ministry uncovered that he had also been siphoning church funds.
Jim had defrauded his churchgoers out of $158 million.
It was later uncovered that the ministry had paid for almost everything. The Bakkers even used $100,000 of the ministry's money to charter a private jet to merely collect clothes from their North Carolina home, according to Daily Mail.
The disgraced pastor was found guilty on 24 counts of fraud and was originally sentenced to a 45-year prison sentence in 1989. However, he would only end up spending five years behind bars.
Negative news regarding the Bakkers continued to pour in after they were initially ousted by the Charlotte Observer for the sex scandal. Other stories that made headlines around the world involved Jim being caught engaging in an orgy with three much younger men in a sauna.
As for his wife, Tammy Faye, she had also allegedly been throwing herself sexually at her hired staff and was frequently popping prescription pills. During one plane trip, she attempted to open the door and sedating her took enough Valium to "kill a truck driver."prevnext
After Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker Left PTL Club
Despite the millions that the Bakkers stole from the church, it was the sex scandal that led to their ministry's undoing.
Following Jim's departure from PTL club, rival preacher, Jimmy Swaggart tried to take control of the TV empire. However, Swaggart was later exposed for his own sex scandal.
Ultimately, Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority founder, took over the ministry. He stepped in only to discover that PTL had debt amounting in the millions and that money raised for hotel timeshares had been rerouted to other places.
Jim and Tammy Faye divorced in 1992. She went on to marry their close friend Roe Messner, who was the one to come up with the hush money to pay off Hahn. Messner was later jailed for bankruptcy fraud while Tammy Faye went on to reinvent herself as a reality TV star and self-help author. She passed away at the age of 65 in 2007.
After getting out of jail, Jim went on to marry a woman named Lori that looked very much like Tammy Faye. Lori is 18 years his junior and they tied the knot after a whirlwind 50-day dating period.
Currently, Jim is working on his latest TV show selling buckets and books for end-of-times preppers.0comments
As for Hahn, she used her media spotlight from the sex scandal to become a Playboy Playmate and would go on to star in multiple "B" movies.
Be sure to tune into Reelz Channel on Saturday at 9 p.m. to watch Scandal Made Me Famous.prev