Friday, June 20, 2008

Sex issue resolved: Bynum-Weeks marriage over

Sex issue resolved: Bynum-Weeks marriage over
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/20/08

The stormy marriage of ministers Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks III — temporarily calmed by a night of passion — ended this morning in a Gwinnett County courtroom.
A divorce was finalized for the couple at 10:45 a.m before Judge Debra Turner.
Both Bynum and Weeks expressed relief and a measure of joy that marriage, marked by a spectacular wedding, a high—profile ministry and a parking lot beat down, was over.
"It has been a long-awaited moment," said Bynum after the court hearing. "I had already made my [peace] with it."
Weeks, on probation for assaulting Bynum last summer, said he will always have a "special love" for her, but he is moving on.,
"I feel like it's a new day — a brand new life, a brand new time," Weeks said.
Bynum agreed to pay $40,000 of Weeks' attorney fees. They will keep individual assets they had before the marriage. Bynum wants to retrieve some personal items in Weeks possession, including a harp and sculpture.
Weeks a gets a 2004 Land Rover. And he pays any credit card debt in his name.
No alimony was granted.
The couple left the courtroom separately. They only said hello to each other before the hearing.
Before the final decree, the divorce proceeding was interrupted after Bynum revealed that the couple had sex last August after they had separated.
It was not revealed if conjugal connection happened after Weeks assaulted Bynum in a hotel parking lot last summer. Turner left the courtroom to research whether the divorce could be granted under Georgia law, which, in part, sees sex by separated couples as a act of reconciliation.
"My understanding is you can no longer have marital relations based on the date of separation that you file," Turner said.
Randy Kessler, Weeks' attorney, said that the couple had been living in separation and that Bynum filed for divorce after the sexual encounter.
"The fact that they had sex before she filed for divorce is an amendable defect," said Kessler, meaning the conjugal coupling should not void the divorce.
After the recess, Turner agreed to push the date of separation up to September to circumvent the reconciliation issue.
Weeks strolled into the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center around 9:30 a.m. with a smile on his face. He was flanked by two supporters, one of them his personal assistant.
Bynum, who arrived just before 10 am., said "I'm doing well, I feel great. It's not a sad thing."
She said she doesn't have any time to take off and heal from the divorce. She has been made a regular adviser on television's "Divorce Court," and two weeks ago, she was permanently added to the cast of "Lincoln Heights," an ABC network series featuring multicultural families. The prime time show airs on Mondays.
"I'm excited," she said.
Bynum, a nationally-known evangelist and Weeks, pastor of a once-large and prosperous church in Duluth, appeared to be a match made in heaven. But not even prayer could keep them together in the end.
Both pastors have accused each other of violence, however Weeks was the only one to face charges for it. In March, Weeks, leader of Global Destiny Ministries, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges for pushing, kicking and beating Bynum in the parking lot of the Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta last summer.
Bynum filed for divorce on the basis of cruel treatment soon after the August 2007 attack. The couple had already been separated for several months at the time.
Weeks and Bynum wed in an elaborate televised ceremony six years ago. They built a church and international ministry together in Duluth, but busy work schedules, financial troubles and alleged incidents of spousal abuse eventually severed their union.
Some followers of the couple, though, had prayed they would reconcile.
However, in the tell-all book on his love life with Bynum "What Love Taught Me" Weeks, who was sentenced to three years probation and community services for assaulting Bynum, accepts some responsibility for the downfall of his marriage. He said he was a "workaholic" who hadn't really learned to relax and lighten up.
"I am a very private person — somewhat introverted," Weeks wrote in his book. "I lack personality in many ways ... I was always serious, focused and nerdish ... maybe that was one of my great downfalls in developing relationships."
Weeks said Bynum was his polar opposite — outgoing and funny. But because she was so devoted to her ministry, he often felt lonely when she traveled on the job. Weeks said he missed the "connection" he had with his wife as a friend and a lover when she was gone preaching.
"I worked, worked, worked and worked to avoid feeling lonely," Weeks wrote in his book. Weeks said in his book there were "countless" women around him at church that offered to meet his needs, but he said he refrained from straying because of his faith and commitment to his church. "I have a legacy I have to carry out," he said.
Weeks said in his book he and his wife never became "best friends" because of their separate lives. He said Bynum would discuss their problems with others instead of keeping things quiet.
"I didn't call my mother and father and tell them about the problems we were having," he said.
Bynum, who has been divorced before, said during an appearance on Fox TV's Divorce Court that she tried to live with the problems in her troubled marriage.
"You are trained in the traditional sense of religion to be the person that is always fine," Bynum said. "I found myself trying to live up to that ... I didn't want to look stupid."
But after the attack, Bynum said she could no longer pretend that she was happily married. She said she got so depressed afterwards, she considered suicide. "Suicide crossed my mind, jumping out of the window crosses your mind," Bynum said. "I felt hopeless."
Divorce will not close the chapter on the couple's problems altogether.
It could open up new wounds for them and their followers. Healing could take some time for everyone, says David Key, director of Baptist Studies at Emory University's Candler School of Theology.
"A divorce is like any kind of loss," said Key. "There is a grieving process."

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