What Jessica Hahn's Life Was Like After The Jim And Tammy Faye Bakker Scandal

Throughout history, more than one powerful man has been brought down by an inability or an unwillingness to, well, "keep it in his pants." Just in the past few years, Harvey Weinstein and Prince Andrew have seen their social stock sink thanks, at least in part, to their sexual and even criminal exploits. A generation earlier, a sex scandal was a part of a larger series of issues that led to the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton.

In the late-1980s, one man's stock fell quickly and precipitously thanks at least in part to a sex scandal. There's considerably more to the story of the fall from grace of televangelist Jim Bakker, but the narrative begins with sex –- specifically, an allegation of sexual assault and hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush-money payments to make it go away.

Jessica Hahn, though possibly a victim of sexual assault, turned her 15 minutes of fame into a lengthy career of "famous for being famous." She posed for Playboy, for example, and made frequent appearances on shock-jock radio. As of 2017, according to Get Religion, Hahn had retreated into a quiet life of obscurity.

The Jim Bakker Scandal

Jim Bakker was not the first televangelist; TV and, before that, radio was the platform for religious programming for decades. However, as ABC News reports, Bakker didn't see himself as a run-of-the-mill televangelist, on the order of, say, Billy Graham or Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Rather, he thought of himself as a sort of "Christian Johnny Carson," so to speak. Soon enough, he'd built a media empire; the foundation of which was his "PTL" show, which he co-hosted with wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker.

Within a few years, the Bakker empire grew to include a South Carolina water park, which was billed a "Christian version of Disneyland." The Bakkers themselves were living the high life, owning expensive cars and multiple mansions. And then it all came crashing down, likely due to a phone call. "I fielded this call from someone who turned out to be Jessica Hahn telling us that something had happened between her and Jim Bakker," Charlotte Observer investigative reporter Charles Shepard said, via People.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

What the Charlotte Observer reporter learned from Jessica Hahn was that she alleged that Jim Bakker had sexually assaulted her in December 1980 when she was a 21-year-old church secretary, according to CNN. Specifically, she alleged that Bakker had drugged her before raping her. Further still, Bakker had allegedly paid Hahn in hush money, according to the Daily Mail.

In fact, Hahn's allegations were just the tip of an exceptionally large iceberg that included allegations of financial mismanagement, substance abuse, and accounting fraud. At the end of the day, Bakker — who would claim that the sex act with Hahn was consensual — would be sentenced to 45 years in prison on multiple criminal counts, according to Pop Culture. He would later see that sentence reduced, and, as of July 2022, Bakker is once again in the televangelism industry, albeit on a much smaller scale, hosting his ministry from Branson, Missouri, according to his website.

'Famous For Being Famous'

There's a saying in the celebrity industry: "famous for being famous." In other words, someone achieves fame not because of any real talent or achievements, but for being in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on your point of view), or through the sheer force of marketing. For example, Kato Kaelin was a couch-surfing, out-of-work actor who happened to be slumming at O.J. Simpson's house when Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her companion, Ronald Goldman, were murdered. That was 30 years ago, and Kaelin is still milking that fame.

Jessica Hahn had no real claim to fame other than being the focal point of a juicy and salacious sex scandal. She then turned that into a lengthy career of squeezing every ounce of money and fame out of it as she could. She famously dated comedian Sam Kinison, according to The Cinemaholic, and even appeared in his "Wild Thing" video (available here, via YouTube). She posed for Playboy, on several occasions, and made multiple appearances on "The Howard Stern Show" well into the 2000s; nearly 20 years after her star should have dimmed. She also took bit parts in TV shows and was in two long-term relationships, the second of which appears to be ongoing.

A Long-Term Relationship And A Marriage

Jessica Hahn's first long-term relationship, discounting Sam Kinison (her relationship with Kinison "did not last long," according to The Cinemaholic), was with TV producer and "Married ... With Children" creator Ron Leavitt. In 2005, she discussed how Leavitt helped her get into acting, via CNN. "He was the first man that took a chance with me on 'Married With Children.' Nobody would hire me for TV, not that they should... and he said. 'Jessica, come on in and audition.' ... And the last day of my shoot, he said,' Jessica, come on, how about a cup of coffee, maybe some dinner,' and he was a complete gentleman and we have been together 15 years and I have never been more in love in my life," she said at the time.

Hahn's relationship with Leavitt ended with his death in 2008; The L.A. Times famously neglected to mention Hahn at all in his obituary. In 2017,according to The Cinemaolic, reports indicated that Hahn had married Frank Lloyd. According to an IMDB profile bearing his name, Lloyd was a stunt performer with his latest credit dated in 2014.

'A Cartoon Character'

In 2017, the Charlotte Observer, the newspaper that originally broke the story that brought down the Jim Bakker empire and solidified Hahn's place in popular culture, revisited the story of the woman who, 30 years earlier, started it all. As Hahn told the newspaper, via Get Religion, she felt like she didn't make the best choices in the years following the Bakker scandal. "[These choices turned me into] pretty much a cartoon character," she said.

Hahn appears to still be invested in Christianity, despite her complicated relationship with the religion. "God is still the first and most important thing in my life. The only person I really talk to. My faith is strong. ... I still believe in God more than ever. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his mess," she said. 

As of 2017, Hahn was largely staying out of the public eye, preferring instead a quiet life of anonymity with her husband.