INDIO — A woman riding with evangelist Jimmy Swaggart when he got three traffic tickets Friday morning says she is a prostitute the preacher picked up for sex.
Swaggart, 56, was accompanied by Rosemary Garcia of Coachella Valley when he was cited for driving on the wrong side of the road, driving an unregistered vehicle and not wearing a seat belt, said Police Chief Jerry Graves.
Garcia, 31, told two television news crews that Swaggart, who was disgraced in 1988 after his contact with a New Orleans prostitute was exposed, picked her up seeking a date, a common euphemism among prostitutes for sexual contact.
"For sex, I mean that's why he stopped me, that's what I do, I'm a prostitute," she told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. "He asked for sex," she said. "He was shaking."
In an interview with KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, Garcia said Swaggart saw a police car behind him and became agitated, swerving his 1989 Jaguar as he tried to hide pornographic magazines, causing caused him to be stopped.
Efforts to reach Swaggart were unsuccessful.
In 1988, Swaggart resigned from the Assemblies of God church, the nation's largest Pentecostal denomination after a fellow preacher released photos of Swaggart with a New Orleans prostitute.
In a tearful confession at the time, Swaggart admitted to an unspecified sin. But he refused to bow to church discipline and resumed his ministry.
A police department statement said the area where Swaggart was stopped was within a 10-block radius "in which Indio police targeted vice operations for narcotics and prostitution."
"The police officer who issued the citation knew her (Ms. Garcia) by sight," said police spokesman Garry Heckman.
A hearing on the citations is scheduled for Nov. 15 in Indio Municipal Court.
Swaggart was in California for a series of spiritual services, said his attorney in New Orleans, William Treeby, who added Swaggart was traveling with his wife, Frances.