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Health & Spirit

Jessica Hahn, woman at center of televangelist's fall 30 years ago, confronts her past

Tim Funk, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Religious News

In a rare, wide-ranging 50-minute interview with the Observer, Hahn also talked about her enduring religious faith and about her conversation with Bakker's equally famous ex-wife, Tammy Faye, shortly before she died in 2007.

The Observer requested an interview with Jim Bakker, who now hosts a TV ministry near Branson, Mo., but was told he was unavailable.

Hahn told the newspaper she has a great life now, with her "really lovable" husband Frank Lloyd, who's done stunts in the "Spider-Man" movies and in scores of other films and TV shows.

And yet, Hahn added, "it's what's deep down inside that keeps me up at night. ... After all these years. So when people go 30-40 years (before speaking out about sexual abuse), I do get it. ... It's really settled into my heart and soul what happened and how I allowed things to happen. And how it's affected my life overall."

'Like God walking into the room'

On Dec. 4, 1980, Hahn said she got a call from Oklahoma City evangelist John Wesley Fletcher, whom she had known from his crusades at the Long Island church where she worked. Fletcher was then a friend of Bakker's and a frequent guest on "The PTL Club," a popular hour-long Christian talk show that was broadcast nationally from Fort Mill, S.C., and co-hosted by Bakker's ebullient wife, Tammy Faye.

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Hahn was a fan of the Bakkers and their show, so she jumped at Fletcher's invitation to come to Florida, where Jim Bakker was doing a telethon. The plan, Hahn has said over the years, was for her to meet Bakker and babysit his children.

Hahn and Bakker met Dec. 6, 1980, in a hotel room in Clearwater Beach. In the years since, different versions have been offered about why they met there and what exactly happened.

In the 1980s, Fletcher told the Observer he invited Hahn to Florida after Bakker told him he wanted to make his wife jealous. In two December 1984 interviews with the Observer, Hahn said Fletcher led her to expect she'd meet Bakker and watch the telethon.

Instead, she was taken to the hotel room, where Bakker had sex with her.

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