Televangelist’s estranged husband claims abuse in new book
By ERRIN HAINES
ATLANTA – The estranged husband of evangelist Juanita Bynum says in a new book that she has tried to use a highly publicized physical altercation to revive her own flagging ministry.
The self-published book by minister Thomas Weeks III includes chapters with titles such as “I Would Rather Push You Now Than Punch You Later” and “She Wanted to Be Oprah at Any Cost” and says it was Weeks who suffered physical and emotional abuse in the relationship.
In the 153-page “What Love Taught Me,” Weeks says the Aug. 21 dispute was nothing more than a continuation of the “heated fellowship” the two ministers engaged in during their marriage. The scuffle between the two in a hotel parking lot landed Weeks in jail on charges he pushed, choked and beat Bynum, and he ultimately pleaded guilty to assaulting her. He is serving three years of probation.
Weeks claims his wife instigated the parking lot incident and used it to paint herself as a poster girl for domestic violence and to boost her ministry.
“Ultimately, she had to have a plot and a plan to destroy my credibility, to leak issues that were in the process of being resolved … so that she could get out of the marriage almost blameless,” he wrote.
Weeks said he wrote the book in the days after his arrest. Within days, Bynum announced her intentions to become “the new face of domestic violence” and last week, she appeared in a two-part episode of “Divorce Court” offering advice to a couple dealing with alleged abuse in their marriage _ moves Weeks said were indicative of her desire for more secular fame.
“She needed a way out of the marriage so that she could keep her following, possibly grow her following … develop a cause that can support her without preaching and promote her secular career, while ending her marriage,” Weeks wrote. “Juanita was tired of preaching. She was tired of the conference circuit. She was more bored.”
Amy Malone, Bynum’s publicist, said Monday she had not seen the book and could not comment. Bynum did not immediately respond to a request through Malone for a response to Weeks’ claims.
The book is Weeks’ most lengthy public statement about their marriage. He remained largely silent while charges from his criminal case loomed and because he held out hope for reconciliation with Bynum, who filed for divorce.
Weeks said he is telling his story to help others heal, to clear his name and to bring balance to the story that has unraveled over the past eight months.
Weeks said in the book that they both had strong personalities and that there were times when their arguments turned violent.
In one altercation Weeks describes, he says Bynum became enraged and choked him when he was distracted on his laptop computer while riding home in a limousine after a black tie affair in New York. Weeks claims that a few months later, Bynum punched him in the face and neck while he was sleeping.
Weeks said Bynum was the instigator of both incidents and that he walked away.
“I decided a long time ago to become a man avoiding domestic violence,” Weeks wrote. “My internal mantra was I would rather push you now than have to punch you later. I can count at least 20 to 25 times I had to get out of the room before things escalated, and some of those times I had to push her out of the way as a result of her trying to keep me in the room where things could have gotten much more serious.”
The night of Aug. 21 was an example of such a situation, Weeks said.
According to him, the couple had just finished arguing at the Renaissance Hotel when Weeks left and headed for his vehicle.
Bynum followed, blocking the driver’s side door and began to cause a scene, Weeks said. He says she then swung at him with a cell phone in her hand.
“Avoiding her swing to my head, I pushed her away with great force causing her to hit the ground pretty hard,” he said. “I paused and looked at her because I have never pushed her that hard.”
By morning, reports of the confrontation were circulating on the Internet and in the media and Weeks turned himself in two days later to face charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.
Bynum is a former hairdresser and flight attendant who became a Pentecostal evangelist, author and gospel singer. Her ministry blossomed after she preached at a singles event about breaking free of sexual promiscuity. Among her books are “No More Sheets: The Truth About Sex” and “Matters of the Heart.” She has recorded top-selling Gospel albums and also preaches through televised sermons.
Weeks _ who is known to his followers as Bishop Weeks and is the pastor and co-founder of Global Destiny Ministries in Duluth _ co-wrote “Teach Me How to Love You: The Beginnings” with Bynum.