Thomas Weeks says guilty plea was to protect wife Juanity Bynum

Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, who for more than six months proclaimed his innocence of spousal abuse, said he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault this week to protect his evangelist wife, victim Juanita Bynum, from scrutiny.

Weeks, 40, the pastor of Global Destiny Church in Duluth, said not only was his freedom at stake but so was the reputation of his wife.

The couple has reportedly weathered some stormy days during their five-year marriage. Each has accused the other of abuse.

Weeks on Thursday said Bynum sent him a text message after he met her at divorce proceedings Monday urging him not to go forward with the criminal trial. Weeks released a copy of the text message he said Bynum sent to the media.

In it Bynum expressed her love for Weeks and asked him to protect them from going through the criminal case. “Plz (sic) don’t let this go to trial,” Bynum allegedly wrote.

Neither Bynum’s business manager, Crystal Smith, nor publicist Amy Malone responded to a request for a comment from Bynum regarding the alleged message.

“After receiving this text, I wanted to bring closure [to the trial] so that [Bynum] wouldn’t feel that I was trying to make this just a public matter to publicize a whole lot of negative things that would have come out,” Weeks said.

His defense attorney, Ed Garland, was prepared to argue that Weeks acted in self-defense when he pushed Bynum.

On Tuesday, Weeks admitted to attacking Bynum in the parking lot of the Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta on Aug. 21. He was charged with felony aggravated assault for pushing her to the ground and kicking her.

Bynum said Tuesday she intervened on her husband’s behalf at the urging of his grandfather, who didn’t want to see Weeks go to jail.

Weeks said he could have received “several years,” in jail for aggravated assault, but because he was a first-time offender, he was given probation instead. Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford sentenced Weeks to three years of probation and ordered him to perform 200 hours of non-church-related community service and to enroll in an anger management course.

“It was in the best interest of all parties involved,” Weeks said.

The couple’s divorce is still pending in Gwinnett County Superior Court.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 15, 2008.
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