Evangelist Bynum skips divorce meeting

By D. AILEEN DODD
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
02/18/2009

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Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III got stood up at the negotiation table Monday when his estranged wife evangelist Juanita Bynum failed to show for a mediation of their divorce.

The appointment was scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Atlanta law office of Kessler, Schwarz and Solomiany. Weeks, his lawyer and a court reporter waited on Bynum and her divorce lawyer for more than an hour.

Both Bynum and her attorney, Karla Walker of Valdosta, were no-shows.

Kessler said Walker had alerted him earlier she had a morning court date. He said she did not respond to his attempts to contact her afterward that afternoon.

"I called five times, and each time I was told she was still in court," Kessler said."We e-mailed her. We told her we would be here all night if we needed to. She has not called us back. We agreed on this date."

In a telephone interview, Walker said she told Kessler's staff last week about a criminal court case conflict she had Monday in Valdosta.

"I was in court all morning until almost 2 p.m," Walker said. "There was no getting to Atlanta from here to there. Valdosta is three hours away."

Additionally, Bynum is out of state attending a funeral, believed to be in Chicago, Walker said,

Kessler said he has been trying to set up a meeting with Bynum and Walker since Oct. 1. According to court documents, Kessler notified Walker of more than 20 available meeting dates that he and Weeks would be willing to sit down and discuss the divorce.

None of them suited Bynum, 49, or her attorney, he said. Several appointments have been postponed and rescheduled.

Countered Walker: "This has not been some effort on Bynum's part to delay it. It is the nature of the beast when you're talking about dealing with two attorneys' schedule."

Weeks waited in Kessler's law office until 3:45 p.m. for his wife. He wore a brown pinstriped suit with a vest, a pocket watch and a fuchsia print bow tie. The leader of Global Destiny Ministries said he wanted some "closure" for his relationship, even if it meant that he and his wife moved on with the divorce.

"I think it is important to follow her lead," Weeks said. "She wanted the divorce. I'm willing to support her."

Added Kessler: "If she wanted to resolve it, she could have done so by coming here today."

The court-ordered mediation will be rescheduled. Kessler said he has petitioned the court to force Bynum to sit down for a deposition.

The couple, who wed in 2002 in an elaborate ceremony, have been separated since last spring.

Bynum has accused her husband of beating, choking and stomping her to the ground in an Atlanta hotel parking lot on Aug. 21, 2007. Weeks is facing a charge of felony aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and simple battery in connection with the alleged attack.

The pastor said he is still open to mending his marriage or moving on. Supporters of the couple and some members of Global Destiny Church in Duluth have been praying for Bynum and Weeks to reconcile.

"We will leave it in God's hands," Weeks said.

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