When the PTL scandal destroyed fellow Assemblies of God minister Jim Bakker, Swaggart publicly denounced Bakker as "a cancer on the body of Christ." Shortly afterward Swaggart faced his own sex scandal, as a private investigator hired by a rival evangelist Marvin Gorman documented a series of meetings with prostitutes. (Gorman himself had been fired from the Assembly of God ministry after Swaggart had reported that Gorman was having an adulterous affair.)
In 1987, Swaggart was involved with a prostitute at a Metairie, Louisiana hotel called the Travel Inn on Airline Highway, when Gorman and some associates flattened the tires on Swaggart's car, went and got cameras, and took photographs of Swaggart exiting the hotel with the prostitute. Gorman confronted Swaggart and told him he would have to come clean. Swaggart said he would, but refused to do so.
Only after much wraggling did Gorman take copies of the photographs to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. The story broke on February 20, 1988, four months after Swaggart had promised to confess his sin. On February 21, 1988, on his television show taped in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Swaggart confessed that he was guilty of an unspecified sin and would be temporarily leaving the pulpit. Swaggart lost much of his audience after this event. Swaggart blamed his problems on "demons" and claimed that controversial evangelist Oral Roberts had "cast out the demons" over the phone, thus assuring Swaggart was now free of moral defect. (source: "The Agony of Deceit" by Mike Horton).
While Swaggart may have frequented other seedy hotels in areas such as Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, the location of the infamous photograph was in Metairie. There are erroneous reports of this hotel being in Lake Charles or Baton Rouge.
In November 1991, he was stopped for speeding. In the car with him was another prostitute. Soon after, he was told to leave the church he pastored, but he did not do so. Swaggart kept his church and began preaching again years later. In 1995, Swaggart was again pulled over this time in California with a prostitute in the car.
In 2002, the heirs of Pentecostal Bible teacher Finis Jennings Dake filed a plagiarism suit against Swaggart for failing to gain their permission before publishing some of Dake's materials. That lawsuit is pending at present.
He now claims to have "made his life right with God" and preaches a message called "the Cross" which says that the only way to Heaven is through the death of Jesus. He opposes such movements as "G12 Vision" and "Purpose Driven Life."
In mid-September 2004, Swaggart, in a politically charged sermon, said that he would kill gay men: "I'm trying to find the correct name for it ? this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ? I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/po/20040921/co_po/evangelistthreatenstokillgaymen
Gay rights groups quickly demanded that other right-wing religious leaders at the service, including James Dobson and Tony Perkins, repudiate his comment.
Swaggart is also the cousin of rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis and country musician Mickey Gilley. All three of them played the piano.