John Wesley Fletcher

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John Wesley Fletcher
Born(1940-01-24)January 24, 1940
DiedJune 21, 1996(1996-06-21) (aged 56)
Resting placeMaplewood Cemetery
NationalityAmerican
OccupationPastor
Spouse(s)
Shirley Connour
(m. 1971; div. 1989)
Children1

John Wesley Fletcher (January 24, 1940 – June 21, 1996) was an American defrocked Assemblies of God pastor, known for his role in the PTL scandal involving Jessica Hahn and Jim Bakker.

Early life[edit]

Fletcher was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1940. He dropped out of high school and worked a number of jobs, including driving an ambulance, working as a party clown, and he claimed to have run a topless bar. He left Durham in 1970, after being convicted for writing bad checks five times and facing lawsuits for unpaid debts.[1]

In May 1971, Fletcher married Shirley Connour, a singer and musician who performed with a traveling evangelist. They had a son, John Wesley Jr, in September 1973.[2]

Career[edit]

During the 1970s, Fletcher became an Assemblies of God pastor with an evangelical foundation located in Oklahoma City and started making regular appearances on the PTL Club television program towards the end of the decade.[3]

Downfall and later years[edit]

In 1980, PTL Club host Jim Bakker became estranged from his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, and he asked Fletcher to "bring [him] a woman". Fletcher arranged for church secretary Jessica Hahn to meet Bakker. Hahn later claimed that Fletcher and Bakker subsequently raped her but both claimed to have had a consensual sexual encounter with her.[4] The following year, the Assemblies of God defrocked him after allegations of homosexuality were made against him.[5] Other sources state he was defrocked twice for alcoholism.[4]

In early 1987, Fletcher came to national attention when news of the sexual encounter was made public.[3] Fletcher subsequently told Penthouse that he had had sex with Bakker three times, and he repeated the claim in front of a grand jury. Bakker denied these claims under oath.[6] Fletcher gave conflicting statements to the grand jury about whether sex was the only reason that he arranged Hahn to meet Bakker and was charged with perjury.[7] He pleaded guilty and Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced him to three years' probation in May 1990.[8]

During the scandal, Fletcher attempted suicide twice and his wife of 18 years divorced him.[9][10]

He filed for bankruptcy and his ministry collapsed. In 1989, Fletcher was arrested twice for public intoxication and he had his license revoked after being arrested for driving under the influence.[11] Fletcher stated that he "lost all that's dear and precious to me because I was loyal to [Bakker]."[9] At the time of his sentencing, he had been working as a roofer.[8]

Death[edit]

On June 21, 1996, Fletcher died at the age of 56 in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His death was reportedly from AIDS.[11] Fletcher is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wildman, John (September 26, 1987). "Fletcher, From Ambulance Driver to Faith Healer". The Charlotte Observer.
  2. ^ Wigger, John (2017). PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Evangelical Empire. Oxford University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0199379718.
  3. ^ a b Clay, Nolan (November 29, 1987). "PTL Scandal Behind City Evangelist Ministry Hurt, Not Beaten". News OK. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Preston, June (May 11, 1990). "PTL figure will plead guilty to lying". United Press International. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Ex-evangelist Admits Sex With Bakker". News OK. December 5, 1988. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Report: Former Co-Host Fletcher Says Bakker Bisexual". Associated Press. December 5, 1988. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Two From PTL Ministry Charged With Perjury In Testimony On Hahn". Deseret News. December 6, 1989. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Ex-evangelist Sentenced For Lying in Bakker Case". News OK. May 24, 1990. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Harris, Art (May 23, 1990). "Final PTL defendant sentenced to be home at night". UPI News. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  10. ^ "Two From PTL Ministry Charged With Perjury In Testimony On Hahn". Deseret News. December 6, 1989. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Wigger 2017, p.332

External links[edit]

John Wesley Fletcher at Find a Grave