Thomas W. Weeks, 40, was evicted from his Duluth home after he and Bynum had separated. And he had a verbal dispute with an employee that turned physical, according to police reports.
Earlier this month during a sermon at the church that he and Bynum founded, Global Destiny Church in Duluth, Weeks alluded to marital problems between the two, church members said.
“He was really mean,” said Tiny Gilyard, 41, of Lawrenceville, who has attended Global Destiny for a year and witnessed Weeks’ sermon. “He explained that [Bynum] is not going to be preaching anymore. He said she was just going to come and sit down. … It was like he was jealous of her.”
Weeks surrendered to authorities Friday and was released on $40,000 bail for allegedly choking, kicking and striking Bynum, a fiery minister whose sermons empower women to walk away from dead-end relationships.
The incident occurred in the parking lot of the Renaissance Concourse Hotel.
The couple, who separated three months ago, met there to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and to discuss their differences, police said.
Weeks has been charged with two felonies —- aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, police said.
Weeks spent about six hours inside the Fulton County Jail on Friday before emerging at 1:40 p.m., holding a finger to his lips to signal that he had no comment.
He wore a gray suit and bow tie. He climbed into the passenger seat of a silver, four-door Jaguar and rode away.
The attack on Bynum came as Weeks’ personal life apparently was reaching troubling times.
He had been separated from Bynum for three months, relatives say.
On June 27, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office knocked on Weeks’ door to serve him with an eviction notice for his home on Campestral Court in Duluth. Weeks wasn’t there, police said.
“He had moved and the home was vacant,” said Capt. Mike Honiker of the Forsyth Sheriff’s Office.
Six months earlier, Weeks was involved in a dispute with an employee that turned physical, according to a police report.
Weeks had called the police because the female employee, who had been put on probation during a prior staff meeting, was demanding her last paycheck and would not leave his church.
The woman complained to police that Weeks grabbed her and “physically escorted her off the property.” She returned claiming to have “bruises” from the altercation.
Duluth police did not have any information late Friday about how the incident was resolved.
Attorneys for Weeks said he planned to continue his career and try to reconcile with his wife.
“He is born to be a minister and he is going to continue to be a minister,” said his lawyer, Louis Tesser.
“He is a human being. It is a regrettable set of events.”
There was no indication whether Weeks would be preaching at his Duluth church on Sunday.
His next hearing will be Sept. 7 in Fulton County Superior Court.
Police said Bynum, 48, has been sequestered by family as they decide what to do next. Bynum’s publicist, Amy Malone, said Bynum “is still recovering and is not speaking with anyone.”
Ed Garland, another attorney representing Weeks, said his client “is extremely sad over the events that have taken place.”
“I think there is hope on his part that the relationship can get past these difficult moments.”
Mixing love and ministerial work can take its toll on relationships for pastors with successful followings, said the Rev. Cynthia L. Hale, pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church.
“It is tremendously hard to balance a relationship,” Hale said. “If you happen to be more successful than your spouse or make more money or have greater prestige, that is where the challenge comes in.
“There are many men who are secure in life, but there are also men who are insecure and they have struggled with having their wives [or girlfriends] excel in ways they don’t.”
Meanwhile, the dispute may have caused Weeks to lose church members.
Gilyard left the church the day Weeks made the comments about his wife. And now that Weeks has been arrested, Gilyard says he will be looking for another place to worship.
“I’m not going back,” said Gilyard, who is engaged to be married.
“How can he counsel people about their marriages if he can’t take care of his own business? That was his wife.”
Staff writer Mike Morris and news researcher Alice Wertheim contributed to this article.
Aug. 25, 2007
D. Aileen Dodd