The 165,000 people who gave $1,000 to Jim Bakker's planned Heritage U.S.A. resort in return for promised four-day vacation stays will receive just $6.54 each.
That's partly because attorneys will receive $2.5 million of the $3.7 million settlement fund (created by former PTL accountants years ago), under a July 24 order issued by U.S. District Judge Lacy Thornburg in Asheville, North Carolina. A claims administrator will receive $200,000 to track down people entitled to money. Had the victims been given the entire settlement, it would have amounted to only $22.42 each.
Thomas T. Anderson and Associates, a California-based law firm, actually asked the judge for the entire settlement. The firm claimed it would be fruitless to search for all involved in the 16-year-old class action. Thornburg denied that request last year.
Bakker resigned from PTL in 1987 after admitting to an affair with a ministry secretary. He was convicted two years later of a wire- and mail-fraud scheme involving the sale of lifetime partnerships in Heritage U.S.A. in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison. A judge later cut his term to 18 years. He served 5 before being paroled in 1995.
Bakker is on the air again with The Jim Bakker Show, which originates at the Studio City Café in Branson, Missouri. The show's first installment aired on January 2.
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The Associated Press also ran an article about the settlement.
"The Jim Bakker Show" web site offers more information about the show and its hosts.
Christianity Today's earlier coverage of Jim Bakker and PTL includes:
The Re-education of Jim Bakker | Back on the streets, this fallen televangelist is preaching good news to the poor and predicting an asteroid-studded Second Coming (Dec. 7, 1998)
Semi-Amazing Grace | Jay Bakker (yes, Jim and Tammy Faye's son) describes his continuing recovery from church-inflicted wounds (Jan. 23, 2001)
Tammy Faye, Gay Icon | A new documentary rescues the former PTL star's reputation, especially in the homosexual community (Oct. 4, 2000)
Weblog: Jim and Tammy Faye, Together Again | Bakkers reunite on Larry King Live (June 1, 2000)
Part of the Truth | Jim Bakker's memoir leaves some important questions unanswered (Dec. 9, 1996)
Bakker: Falwell Was 'Totalitarian' (Dec. 9, 1996)
Jim, Tammy Faye Describe Downfall (Nov. 11, 1996)
Charlotte's News 14 recently did a story on a new documentary about Tammy Faye.
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