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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. Pat

    He is not a "bishop".

    May 27, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  2. The Dude

    The Sad Truth

    Muslims are violent
    Christians are retarded
    Buddhists are worthless
    Hindus are crazy
    Jews are sociopaths

    Religion is poison

    May 27, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  3. Curt14

    The 4 men who brought front the accusations against Eddie Long and "accepted money"
    to free Eddie Long temporarily from his "Sins" and setup someone else's child to be "sodomized".

    A fool and money will always soon part....May God have mercy on all their soul's.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  4. hope

    I think we should move on with this story, these people were in it for money it seems like, because if they were serious they should have taken him to court, lets move on everyone, no one is perfect!

    May 27, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • kman02

      Come on, moral majority...Defend him!!! He's a victim!!! Oh, crap...the moral majority is white and he's a black rapist. Never mind.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • kman02

      Didn't mean to respond to "hope". Meant to start a new thread. Oops.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • ComeOnMan9

      Hope, I want to see if you feel the same way after we leave your nephew or niece with MichaeljacksonWoodyallenRkellyRomanpolanskiMorganfreeman and now ta-dah new name added to my list Bishopeddielong.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Peace2All

      @hope

      Hi -hope...

      You Said: "these people were in it for money it seems like, because if they were serious they should have taken him to court."

      That is mere unproven speculation on your part. Maybe that is what 'you' would have done, had these things happened to you... however, you shouldn't assume that what you apparently claim as true, would be something someone else should have done.

      Different people, world-views, and circ-umstances, etc...

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  5. CanHeSing.com

    Come on how can they be so blind... The pastor is gay. Out of court settlement. tisk..

    There are some tough gay men and there are some soft gay men. Thats all im saying..

    May 27, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • kman02

      Yeah...I was wondering what you were saying. So it's okay to be a "tough" gay man rather than a "soft" gay man. Sorry...Don't really get that. In fact, I don't really care. If he groomed these boys and took their innocence, he's a rapist. Black, white, brown, soft, hard, cruel....I don't see (and don't see and don't GIVE a damn) about the difference. I do NOT condemn the man for being gay. I call him out for hurting children.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Peace2All

      @CanHeSing.com

      You Said: "There are some (tough gay men) and there are some (soft gay men). Thats all im saying."

      Saaaaaaay what...????

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  6. santiago

    I see once again a special standard of conduct allowed here. Such deference would never be tolerated to a like charge against a Catholic priest.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • kman02

      What is being allowed. He is called out for his transgressions against CHILDREN. The Catholic church has their problems, but who really cares. They are a small majority, here. Right here, right now, we have a man taking his favor with children. I don't give a damn about the Catholics. This case is what we are talking about today.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • kman02

      Replace majority with minority. That was pretty stupid. Sorry.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  7. reinadelaz

    I do not know Eddie Long nor his accusers, but I DO know it is easy to say what you think you'd do in a similar situation, and it may be an entirely different thing if you ever end uo in one. Nobody knows what they will do until they have to do it. Only God knows what the future holds. That said, Eddie Long no longer meets Biblical standards for church leadership. May God help all involved find the healing and redemption they need.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  8. gordon atl

    To all you people saying black people aren't forgiving, think about this. The younger generation of black adults and young children are having plenty of white friends, and black/white couples are at an all-time high. So what's your point again? The discussion of slavery will never go away. I mean, it is how the country was built. On the backs of blacks. Older generation blacks may be a little bitter. But can you blame them? Bomb their churches, burn their crosses, send dogs on them, and hose them in the streets (legally). Let's not forget lynching.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  9. LANA

    ARE THEY SAYING THESE 4 GUYS JUST CONCOCTED THIS WHOLE STORY ONE DAY WHILE SITTING IN MCDONALDS. THAT IS INDICATING THAT THESE GUYS ARE BRILLIANT AGAINST THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM WHO COULDN'T FIGURE OUT IF THEY WERE LYING. IF BISHOP LONG LIKES MEN OR IN THIS CASE BOYS, OK FINE BUT GET OUT OF THE PULPIT. TRYING TO SAVE SOULS IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS AND IF YOU ARE NOT ABOUT MY FATHER'S BUSINESS GET GONE. AND WHY IN THIS PICTURE IS HE WEARING A WIG, WASN'T HE GOING BALD A WHILE AGO AND HERE HE HAS A FULL HEAD OF HAIR.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  10. che-3

    I knew this dude was up to Nooooooooooooooooo GOOD the first time I saw him on TV years ago in some red T-shirt with a long sleeveless suit jacket on top of that. He looked like the neighborhood dope peddler with a Bible in hand. These are the people that give Christianity a bad name. In US, Christianity has become a RIP-OFF business. They even have schools in the south to train you how to set your own church, deceive, rip-off your folk, Rip-Off the US Gov’t. and tax payers and amass worth. Most of their congregation don’t even know that most of these churches belongs to the crook with the mic and his subservient wife on Sunday mornings. Shame on the PERVERT!

    May 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • shawn

      You are right on the money! The crooks need to be exposed and people need to stop putting their faith in these clown!

      May 27, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  11. sanjosemike

    He led a march against gay marriage? Wow! The utmost in hypocracy.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  12. Alex

    He's a gay poverty pimp. Wake up black people, you're being used. Case closed.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • che-3

      I wish they could hear ya!
      When America has made it very difficult for Black folks; their only hope is some PERVERT crook like this one with a Bible in hand just to comfort them and assure them that there's a higher power and that, all will be well against any foe.
      FYI: the Christian FAITH in Black community is deep seated and never waivers. It has gotten them thru. most difficult times in America from bondage and against oppression in USA. And that's the ONLY GOD they knew through their forefathers. Their FAITH in GOD is PURE and REAL unlike white folks. You can never get thru. And Black gathering, panics, any functions with someone to remind the gathering to first give thanks to the Lord. Only that; there’s always someone within the group that will just pop up from nowhere to act a lead pastor to lead the rest in prayers. Even before the prayer ends out of nowhere and like a hurricane, a whole choir will be formed and singing begins to top it off. That's their only sin.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Peace2All

      @che-3

      Hi -che-3

      You Said: "Their (black folks) FAITH in GOD is PURE and REAL unlike (white folks)."

      Hmmm.... Looks like a massive 'over-generalization' to me. Please provide proof of your claim.

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  13. MileHighPro

    "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." Gay, Gay, and Gay.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  14. Steve

    Jesus is still The LORD

    May 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • sanjosemike

      Ummm....Steve....Please tell me where your god was at Auschwit? Babi Yar? Asleep at the switch? Dead? Passed out from a binge? Or just an ordinary psychopath?

      May 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • kman02

      @sanjosemike...If you do not wish to engage in a spritual discussion, take your atheist ass to another board. Trolls can still be saved, but we are not talking about YOU tonight. Join us again when your head is a bit out of your ass. I only use this language because YOU understand what I am saying. BTW. If you think it's hot outside today, you have not seen anything yet..........

      May 27, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Steve

      Hi -Steve...

      Regardless of whether your posting is accurate or not... ("Jesus is still The LORD.") What does your comment about Jesus have to do with the article, and the alleged allegations against Bishop Long by these men...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Peace2All

      @kman02

      Hi -kman02...
      You Said to @sanjosemike..."BTW. If you think it's hot outside today, you have not seen anything yet..."

      Please explain your meaning.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  15. malasangre

    so what does his remaining congregation think he was doing while he was traveling with these kids? they may have been the age of consent but they were nowhere near adults. I can almost hear him snicker as he called them "Longfellows".

    May 26, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  16. Hoosier Agnostic

    Good Grief: why are people still giving money to this rapist? I'm not saying he can't redeem himself and do good in the world; but he needs to come clean, come out and come down off his high horse.

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

      It's cool...I said it's ok to fondle children and use your corruptive power and influence to satisfy pedophilia

      May 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  17. Ashen

    @Royalg – It doesn't matter that these young men were "all above 16" THEIR SPIRITUAL LEADER, THEIR PASTOR, EDDIE LONG took advantage of them! Are you as stupid as you sound? It seems like you are because 'Ol Eddie sold his soul a long time ago! Deal with it.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  18. LET GOD JUDGE ME

    Acts 10:34 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:"

    May 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  19. Man Scripting

    This is a definite indicator that Eddie Long is not innocent. Why is a man of his stature settling out of court. I actually blogged about this exact issue and posed some very interesting questions. You all should check it out, subscribe and comment.

    http://themanyouscript.com/2011/05/26/bishop-eddie-long-settles-out-of-court/#more-75

    May 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  20. Reality

    Why is this guy still preaching? Bad enough he violated four young boys but then compounds his sins by continuing to preach the errors of Christianity!!!! Give us a break!!!!

    ========================================================================================

    May 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • God

      Because I said so, and you have to have faith in my crockery! The same way I allow babies to starve and CEOs to have excesses of wealth and power. It's all part of my divine plan. Didn't you read my bestseller...it's called The Holy Bible. I also made a "Cliff's Notes" if you will, called the 10 Commandments. I have a lot of debts, as the Bulls didn't cover the spread...so put a little extra in this Sunday at mass....or...uhhhhh...I'll send uhhhhh more Tornadoes!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • frank

      Stay off the haterade my friend! If you don't see the beauty of Blue Eyed Baby Jesus' love, you are blinded by Lucifer's gremlins! If you don't see what sublime love it was for God to browbeat Abe into gutting his kid like a fish, make Job eat caca quesadillas, and send his only baby to be whipped to ribbons, speared in the bladder, and tortured to death by a bunch of drunk Italians to pay off the debt we all owe for something none of us did, you're just nuts...

      May 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @frank

      You Said: "If you don't see the beauty of (Blue Eyed Baby) Jesus' love, you are blinded by (Lucifer's gremlins)!"

      You are kidding, right...?

      You Said: "If you don't see what sublime love it was for God to browbeat Abe into gutting his kid like a fish, make Job eat caca quesadillas, and send his only baby to be whipped to ribbons, speared in the bladder, and tortured to death by a bunch of drunk Italians to pay off the debt we all owe for something none of us did, you're just nuts..."

      So, @Reality, @God... and I suppose anyone else who doesn't read what I re-quoted you on directly above, and believe that without question...e.g..(sublime love of God)...he did all these terrible things... we owe Him/God a debt, which Jesus allegedly paid our debts, etc...

      And... you think (we) are all 'just nuts'... for not believing that ...?

      And apparently... you are 'not' kidding. Wow !

      Fascinating...

      BTW-your post wasn't a total loss. I did pick up some new play on words...'haterade,' 'caca quesadillas,' ...LOL...!!

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 2:18 am |
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