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Bishop Eddie Long settles with accusers
Bishop Eddie Long is the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, Georgia.
May 26th, 2011
05:37 PM ET

Bishop Eddie Long settles with accusers

By John Blake, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta-based megachurch leader, has reached an out-of-court settlement with four young men who accused him of sexual coercion, representatives for both sides said Thursday.

B.J. Bernstein, the attorney representing the men, said in a statement that the lawsuits against Long and his church have “been resolved.”

Bernstein's two-paragraph statement said that neither she nor the accusers would talk about the lawsuits “now or in the future.”

Art Franklin, a Long spokesman, said Thursday that the pastor settled because it “is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel.”

“This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry,” Franklin said in a statement.

Long is an internationally known televangelist who crusaded against gay marriage, and the lawsuits against him drew national attention.

The settlement comes eight months after Long, the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, Georgia, said from the pulpit of his 25,000 member megachurch that he vowed to fight the accusations against him, with the congregation cheering in response.

Long entered into mediation talks in February. According to news reports, the sessions between Long and his four accusers - Anthony Flagg,  Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande - were tense.

The suits accused Long of using his position to coerce the men into having sexual relationships with him while they were teenage members of his congregation.

The lawsuits say Long engaged in intimate sexual acts with the young men, such as massages, masturbation and oral sex.

Long took the young men on trips including to Kenya, according to the suits. He allegedly enticed the young men with gifts including cars, clothes, jewelry and electronic items.

Long's attorneys deny those allegations and maintain that the pastor was attempting to be a father figure to the youths by providing them with financial assistance and encouragement.

Though no trial will now take place, Long may face the judgment of his congregation and fans worldwide.

Shayne Lee, a sociology professor at Tulane University in Louisiana and an authority on televangelists, said Long’s out of court settlement may erode some of his support.

“When you settle outside of court, it implies that there’s some guilt involved,” said Lee,  author of "Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace."

“To the average congregation in the black church, those are some very serious charges,” Lee said, referring to the men’s charges against Long. “You can’t settle outside of court. You have to fight and roll up your sleeves, be defiant and fight it.”

Since the scandal had erupted, attendance at Long’s church had fallen, and New Birth officials have announced plans to lay off staff and cut Long’s salary.

But Lee said it would be premature to think that Long will retreat from the pulpit.

“He can say ‘I still have my anointing and I still have my ministry,’ ’’ Lee said. “He can say that God is working out the weeds so that the tree has a stronger foundation.”

The four men’s accusations stunned many of Long’s followers. A married man, Long had often preached about the sanctity of marriage. He once led a march against gay marriage.

Long had also cultivated a public image that was built on his machismo. He wore tight muscle shirts in the pulpit. He wrote books that compared Christian men to spiritual gladiators. He told people he had a special calling to reach men.

One Atlanta pastor predicted Long will survive the scandal because his core audience will forgive him.

“Black folks have very short memories,” said the Rev. Tim McDonald, senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta. “We are the most forgiving people on the planet."

McDonald, who said he has talked privately with Long since the scandal erupted, said Long “went into a shell” after the accusations against him went public.

Before the scandal erupted, Long would often publicly criticize other black pastors, and once said they “major in storefront buildings,” suggesting that they lacked the  business acumen to build a megachurch like he had.

But Long had shown a different public face lately, McDonald said. His entourage wasn’t as big; he was more visible in the community.

“I found him opening up,” McDonald said. “If he can pick that back up and humble himself and stop saying things like, ‘I ain’t just another chicken-eating preacher,’ he’ll survive.”

Lee, the Tulane sociologist, said Long will remain in the pulpit for another reason.

“This is what he knows,” Lee said. “He’s not going to be able to sell insurance or cars. He’s cocky. He’s confident. He believes in redemption.”

Videos from 2010:

Bishop Long's sex case mediation
Accuser's message for Bishop Long
Eddie Long responds to allegations

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Pastors

soundoff (856 Responses)
  1. royalg

    you all blame the pastor === stupid move === the young men were just as bad they knew what they were doing == they had a choice and they had there mouths open == they could have said no they were all above 16 == they knew the difference== they could have said NO and walked away. they were not emotionally stunted were they - the answer is called=== legal black mail=====THEY GOT MONEY DIDNT THEY THEY DIDNT WANT HIM IN JAIL - FOR THEN THERE WOULDNT BE ANY === MONEY AN THATS WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT== MONEY === so sad - the young men sold there souls in the end.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • LET GOD JUDGE ME

      Kinda sure for someone who has no clue...Vanity is always humbled.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Black texas

      They were kids who were manipulated. Long used his power, status and the church people's trust to do his dirt. He is no different than Jim Jones who tricked his congregatioini into moving to Jones Town and then making them commit suicide from drinking poison.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Davey

      Absolutely we blame the pastor. Where much is given , much is required. Eddie Long had the obligation to do the right thing regardless of what these young men would have done. Are you kidding me???? If anyone sold their soul it was Eddie ( no bishop in my book mind you). If he was so innocent and a man of faith, he should have gone to trial and let God fight his battle. But see, God wouldn't have fought for him even if he was innocent. Why? because regardless of what happened, Eddie long is full of pride, and God hates pride.Whether or not those men wanted Eddie in jail or not, he ddnt have to settle. But he did. You can continue to believe and follow him if you want, but watch your step!

      May 27, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • trent1280

      Are you goofy? Laughably naive? Or just on Eddie's payroll?

      What you have written is a ridiculous evasion. 'Bishop' Long was the father figure, the authority in charge, the supposed conduit of God's word. Eddie abused his authority, and betrayed his trust, in order to send Spandex pictures of himself to four teenage boys - and whatever else he did to them.

      You will recall his crazy sermon? The one in which he said it was a pastor's job to supply "fresh sperm" to his congregation? What sort of lowlife would even think about that sort of thing? Who would talk like that?

      If his congregation doesn't get rid of him this week, they are complicit in his abuse of authority. Even RoyalG can't defend that one.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  2. American Citizen

    Hmm.. hey everybody, what would (your version of) Jesus do?? Lol!!!

    After this kind of a circus any clown who decides the Eddie Don.. er.. Long show must go on, and sticks with this guy, deserves to be swindled and deceived by him! Go Eddie!! Take the fools to come for all you can!

    May 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  3. jj

    So, settled is the nice way of saying 'bought off'. This man is an obvious fake, with the weak-minded as his fleeced flock.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  4. Bish. Long

    I'm selling domain rights to my website.

    megachurchkokcravers.com

    please don't judge me. God will do that : p

    May 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  5. NameDavid l Elliott Sr.*

    Bishop go in a 40 day fast in the name of JESUS, all egales I know have to. Go into a cave and pix their feathers, and each one of those be the war wounds one have rec. On this battle field for the lord, now their are spiritual fiery darts that are laying in dorman, this fast will deliver from those and any thing else that's not of Christ JESUE, and then thee power of GOD in the name of JESUS will be in a double portion, I pray u and your well in the name of JESUS

    May 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • johnnie

      Dude, the bishop starving himself now isn't going to help, he should have did that when the temptations were initially coming at him. He's now entered the humbling stage of this fisaco! Peace

      May 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Canuck

    Amen!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  7. jk

    I don't see what the big deal is. I mean he likes guys, repressed it, then once he got a position of power he cut loose. I would expect nothing less from a sociopathic personality. Bottom feeder all the way. These mega churches all have leaders of this ilk. And yes I mean all. They prey on the stupid and or weak.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Canuck

      Yup

      May 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Adelina

      @Jk, mega churches usually have intellectuals in the congregation members. There are hundreads of of mega churches in USA alone. You should worry more for politicians, celebrities, teachers and parents. "Sheeples" are those atheists who follow a guy who says creation creates itself.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  8. Sheila Brown

    The bottom line is this: NEVER put your faith in Man, your faith and trust are supposed to be in the Lord...Eddie Long is a perverted buttwipe, and butt muncher.
    Men will use their power for wickedness always...Look at Swartzenegger, Edwards: Men (and Women) are weak, and easily tempted. Look to God, not man.I hope his chuch members finally see him for what he is, and join another church.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • teresa, snOhio

      right on Sheila !!! I believe there is a bible verse that TELLS not to put ones faith in a mere "man".

      May 26, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  9. tubby2

    It is always a sad event when any of God's children go astray, David, Peter, Paul, Demas and yet, their was always a 'city of refuge' for the accused....but, he had to remain their until the High Priest died. It's funny how we want to forgive and not expect discipline. A church without discipline is only a place where words are spoken but chastisement is overlooked. Even God warns us that 'you reap what you sow", but I guess we wish to change that to. The brother should step down because its his duty as it was his duty to lead.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • johnnie

      Preach!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  10. Ashen

    For all the "sheeple" who are defending this guy and talking about what a man of God he is – I ask you one question. Would you leave your teenaged son ALONE with 'Ol Eddie for the weekend? Didn't think so. If you would – seek help immediately!!! He is not your "Pastor"- instead he "Passed Your" defenses and beguiled you. As long as he remains in authority of the Church no teen will be safe. He settled and paid these young men off because he was as nervous as a pregnant nun at high mass!!! He did not want any details to be brought forward, despite his statements that he had five stones. (4 for the young men and 1 for himself maybe?) As far as the big "muscle man" stating he would FIGHT it? What in the hell is his definition of "fighting"? Obviously not the same as mine. ROTFL! That's hilarious.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  11. Canuck

    What do Armold, Eddie, Jimmy, Bill etcetera have in common?? They are all public figures who are human and who have sinned. Don't try to spin this any other way. Those who are defending them are wasting their time.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • jk

      Try: sociopathic predators.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  12. VelveteenLady

    Once again, money does the talking. Since this out-of-court settlement implies some guilt (probably 100% guilt), this "man", who preyed upon young men, who were taken in by his ostentatious lifestyle and his aura of power, were purchased for a price. Meanwhile, the pedophile perpetrator, avoids his rightful punishment of incarceration. How sad that he is not made to pay the price that a civil society demands from those who abuse others, especially the young, through abuse of power. Long should hang his head in shame and creep off into the shadows of the cesspool, from whence he came.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  13. Not Satisfied

    I am a Christian and have read many of the comments. I also attend one of the New Birth Churches (affiliated) with Bishop Eddie Long's. I have waited to see how he would handle this case. I have kept my opinions to myself and prayed for him and the victims.
    HOWEVER, c'mon now, I have been skeptical from the beginning because NO PASTOR should be taking pictures of himself and forwarding to ANYONE but his wife! He should have fought this for the sake of his congregation,asked for forgiveness,then resigned.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Adelina

      I agree.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • VelveteenLady

      I agree with you about the taking and the forwarding of pictures; however, I disagree that he should have fought it. He committed the crimes, he should have confessed to his family, his congregation, and to the law, and then accept his punishment. A righteous man would do no less.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Adelina

      Why isn't he prosecuted by the authority if he lured teenagers? He should be. I don't get this.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • RighteousBabe

      Cosign w/ Velveteen Lady. He is no righteous man. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," but the path to forgiveness and redemption is through truthful confession. I doubt this false prophet can even spell the word truth.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  14. Canuck

    That's the Long and Short of it.....

    May 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  15. Hazel

    Gotta ask...Who made each of us a Judge?..We should leave this up to God and focus on Loving one another as Christ Loved us.If God can and will forgive Bishop Long, then why can't we forgive him and move on?..Look at the tornadoes and hurricanes and storms that are happening in different states and the devastation that they are bringing...To me; that is more important to focus on than REACHING A SETTLEMENT...Gotta ask...What if it were you or your love one being accuse?..Gotta say..We All Have Sinned And Come Sort Of The Glory Of God!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Hazel

      Correction:COME SHORT

      May 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Canuck

      How do you know that god will forgive him? Have you spoken to god?

      May 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Theophilus

      The Church IS to judge this matter: 1 Cor. 6:2-3. Furthermore 1 Tim. 5:19-20 clearly tells us how this situation should be handled – We are not to dismiss two or three witnesses when they make an accusation against an Elder, and we are to rebuke the Elder openly so that others may fear. The church is weak today because we choose to look the other way by not judging, refusing to obey the Word of God . What we fail to realize is that one day we will be judged for not holding leaders accountable. I Love You All

      May 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Canuck

      Hear hear Theo

      May 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Sharon Fuller

      Are you serious, Hazel? Come on and wake the hell up. Bishop Long talked about the LGBT community as though crimes were being committed by them only to discover that HE was/is the criminal. Bishop Long is the party to the first part in this saga. He was very dogmatic in his sermons regarding the LGBT Community. So my question to you and others that think like you is: "Isn't it fair to say what's good for the goose is good for the gander?" He openingly and willingly judged the LGBT Community and gay marriage "without fear of contradiction". He's now being judged by the same measuring tool that he extended towards "others". Love should be extended to all. Bishop Long and other members of the clergy must remember this fact instead of hurling insults coupled with acts of bigotry and hatred towards any group of people.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • jk

      It is exactly because of enablers like yourself that these pig people are allowed to continue to victimize everyone they can. Take some responsibility for that and guys like this would have a hard life.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • LET GOD JUDGE ME

      @Theophilus– outstanding... "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."– Matt 7:2

      May 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • johnnie

      Hazel, let me help you out baby, when you get a chance read Matthew 18( the whole chapter, for context and better understanding) and John 7:24. Thinking like yours is the reason why we(the black CHRISTIAN)community have the church leaders that we have Ephesians tells us to "walk worthy of our calling" if we as christians,assuming you are a christian, aren't supposed to live a CHANGED, DIFFERENT life how can we compel others to. As a leader his name should not have even been mentioned in anything like this. Think about it. Peace

      May 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  16. T-party

    animal plant fossils,and g-ay preachers put a big monkey wrench in religion.......

    May 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Adelina

      T-party, it's always important to look at one's own life. We are all guilty one way or another before the holy God. You need Jesus.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  17. T-party

    preacher you were born g-ay ...deal with it.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Adelina

      T-party, yeah right; men were born to abuse women and parents were born to abuse children. A screwed mankind. You need to change the law at this rate.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • ak87

      Yes. Because being gay is TOTALLY analogous to child abuse and domestic violence.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  18. Evangelist S. Johnson

    This may have been settled in the courts, but have it been settled in heaven? have they repented and got it right with God, where is the truth? Truth speaks loud and is made to be heard not hidden and swept under the rug. The word says having done all to stand, stand therefore. Since when does stand mean stoop or bow? Father help us!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • VelveteenLady

      Seriously, what?

      May 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  19. w7rkd

    Go figure, bought his way out of trouble again. Now he will line up more boys to twist. This guy needs to go to jail for a long time.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  20. Mojonamdi

    When will people ever learn? This man like Swaggart, Ted Haggard (sp) and so many others are all the same. They claim to be men of God, but they screw around and get rich off poor trusting folks and just some plain dumb folks. These men are an insult to Jesus, peace be with him. They are NOTHING like him. They will rot in hell and please don't tell me that they are saved. God is a just God, surely He will punish them.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • T-party

      @ Mojonamdi...you are very correct

      May 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • jk

      Yes I agree. I like that: an insult.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.