Televangelist Juanita Bynum Opens Up about Domestic Violence

Prophetess Juanita Bynum opened up about her recent marriage that ended in a messy divorce and her anticipated new ministry on domestic violence in the upcoming issue of a popular magazine that targets the black community.

In the January 2008 issue of Essence magazine, Bynum - considered the most prominent black female televangelist in the nation - confirmed her allegation against now former husband Thomas W. Weeks III for assaulting her at a hotel parking lot in Atlanta in August.

"I am a woman in the kingdom, and this happened to me, and I have absolutely no reason to lie about what happened to me," she said in the interview with Essence.

Some Christians have criticized Bynum, accusing the televangelist of trying to gain more popularity. Bynum responded that she doesn't have time to focus on people who do not like her.

The prophetess, who has said she forgives Weeks, is currently launching a new ministry that tackles domestic violence in the black community. She has been called the new face of domestic violence and does not intend to move on her with ministry as a televangelist and speaker as if the alleged attack never happened.

"What I'm willing to bring to the table at this point is what I'm walking through right now," she said in the interview regarding her new mission. "I believe that I can bring it and impart it into the hearts of women with conviction."

It is estimated that 2 to 4 million women of all races and classes are battered each year, although only 572,000 reports of assault by intimates - spouses, ex-spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends - are officially reported to federal officials, according to the National Organization for Women.

Meanwhile, Weeks has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and making terrorist threats. He is free on $40,000 bond and is not allowed to have contact with Bynum, according to The Associated Press.

Weeks recently came out in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, expressing skepticism about Bynum's account and further accusing his estranged wife of abusing him.

"There were moments of dysfunction, not physical abuse," Weeks explained in the interview last week. "Certainly there was heated fellowship. ... I never hit or did anything to physically harm her. I have been the one that has been physically abused. I kept it quiet and silent for over 90 days. I have been struck on the face and in the head ... with a fist. I have been choked ... We had gone to counseling."

Denying Bynum's accusations about the Aug. 21 attack, he said, "I did not choke my wife, I did not beat my wife, I did not kick nor stomp her.

"A woman said to be kicked, punched, choked and brutally beaten by her husband, does she show up at the hospital four hours later ... and refuse to let the police take official pictures of all of the bruises?"

There have been other attempts for separation prior to Bynum filing for divorce in August, Weeks said. He explained that there were 10-day to two-week separations, and the first divorce papers were over an accusation that Weeks was gay.

"Some adviser in her life concoted a story that I was gay; never have been one fraction of a second. She retracted that ... before the major wedding that was on TV," he said.

Weeks pastors four Global Destiny churches in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles and London, and has over 3,400 members. Since the alleged assault, membership has declined and the churches have lost over 1,000 people.

He said he would like to be friends with Bynum in the future and doesn't think there is "an absolute possibility that we will never reconcile."

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