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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. Nene

    Well i'm a woman of faith . its left up to us as followers not to follow just anything this ain't twitter. When a person is wrong you can't get forgiveness if your still not admitting to your wrong!!!! Come on ppl half naked pictures in there phone of him. Not saying that preachers should be perfect but molestation!!!! How do you explain that.

    August 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  2. derek

    dudes gay period!!

    July 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  3. unretired05

    You're kidding - the lawyer representing the men goes by the name of B.J.

    July 1, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  4. mikki

    Tiffany thank u for the truth. Ruth your brainwashing is complete. I feel sorry for you. We are not hating on a rich predator. I would much rather ASPIRE to be more like a wealthy person who became so due to hard, honest work.

    June 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  5. Lets Pray

    Dear Lord,

    I lift up Bishop Long to you now. I don't what you want for him or from him right now, but I pray that you make it clear to him. God, touch his heart in such a way that will cause him to seek you above all else in his present journey. Be with those whose lives have been affected by this matter - the accusers and thier families, Bishop Long and his family, the member's of Bishop Long's church, and anyone else who has been / is being impacted. Please let each and everyone of us see you in this situation and in our own situations - your love, your grace, your mercy, your righteousness, your justice, your anger, and your peace.

    Thank you Lord, amen.

    June 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  6. ajumebor promise

    Bishop Eddie Long like other men of GOD ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST 'MEN' AND NOT 'GOD' and this is a call to all believers including me that what ever we dwell on for long will before long manifest in the open as it has now with 'long' but no man has a right to condemn as no one is holy but God. this should in no way dissuade righteous people cos the path of the just is as the shining light that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. proverbs 4;18

    June 25, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  7. PRAYER WARRIOR

    IM SO THANKFUL FOR JESUS TONIGHT AFTER READING SOME OF THESE POST. IM SO GLAD THAT JESUS HAD TO COME 42 GENERATIONS AND DIE FOR ME, BECAUSE IF IT WAS LEFT TO MAN I WOULD BE IN HELL RIGHT NOW. WHY ARE PEOPLE THAT SAY THEY ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH SO GULLIBLE. WE PASTORS SACRIFICE OUR TIME, RESOURCES,ENERGY, AND EVEN SOME THEIR MARRIAGES FOR PEOPLE THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY WHEN THE TRUE ENEMY SPEAKS A LIE AGAINST US BELIEVES WHAT he IS SAYING. NO MATTER HOW GOD HAS USE US TO BE A BLESSING IN THEIR LIVES. 1PETER 3:16 SAIDS HAVING A GOOD CONSCIENCE; THAT WHEREAS THEY SPEAK EVIL OF YOU, AS OF EVILDOERS, THEY MAY BE ASHAMED THAT FALSELY ACCUSE YOUR GOOD CONVERSATION IN CHRIST. 17- FOR IT IS BETTER, IF THE WILL OF GOD BE SO, THAT YE SUFFER FOR WELL DOING, THAN FOR EVIL DOING. 18- FOR CHRIST ALSO HATH ONCE SUFFERED FOR SINS, THE JUST FOR THE UNJUST, THAT HE MIGHT BRING US TO GOD, BEING PUT TO DEATH IN THE FLESH, BUT QUICKENED BY THE SPIRIT. IN CONCLUSION WE ALL HAVE TO SUFFER WITH JESUS TO REIGN WITH HIM, AND WHEN YOUR TIME COME TO SUFFER WHAT SCANDAL ARE YOU GOING TO BE FOUND IN THE MIDST OF. NOW YOU REPENT BEFORE THE MASK IS TAKING OFF OPF YOU AND YOU BE FOUND WANTING.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • DoubtingThomas

      Please turn off the caps lock. All caps make it seem like you are screaming.

      Also, you may want to use periods, it is a great way to break up the ideas into understandable pieces. It reads like one long run-on rant of gibberish.

      It is funny that the only word that you didn't capitalise was "he" – which is supposed to be caps because it refers to the big sky man.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Disciple Mikey

      We can't judge him and frankly i don't care because i'm not associated with his church. I will say that if he is in fact gulty that would disqualify him for sheaparding a congregation. God does forgive repentant sinners but a child molestor is not in a position to be in a position as overseer. It would be reasonable for the church to conduct an investigation or make it a priority to find out the truth, but we know that probably won't happen. After all, this is a business more than a house of God and whatever's better for business is what they will do.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  8. Marie Kidman

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig&w=640&h=390]
    ~

    June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  9. CV in TC,TX

    Eddie Long needs to openly repent to the congregation. If he does not, God will kill him. He has misled many christians, and he needs to repent wholeheartedly. Putting his pride before hurting souls is just wrong. Before he asks God for repentance, he needs to go to his brothers/sisters first and ask for repentance.

    CV in TC,TX

    June 22, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  10. ciera brown

    eddie long amongs others are full of crap no sin is bigger then the other

    June 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  11. CW

    Mark my words, Eddie Long will take a fall. Man can not hide from God, he knows the truth and the pictures he sent by phone were enough to have him sit down and receive counsel but he wants to cover it up and make excuses. OJ Simpson thought he got away with murder but look where he is now. God will not be mocked.

    June 19, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  12. Ms.Adabu

    Very sad.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  13. EJAYWOOD

    Some how , some way we as parents must teach and impart as much as possible study at home ; we got to start reading and teaching at home and living it in front of our children and stop depending on the church leaving our children blind to take what ever the ministers say as gospel ; learn for ourselves read it for ourselves ; challenge the life and the way the ministers live by the word of God; We are not as parents taking responsibility for our children or ourselves i can not put it all on the messenger;

    June 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  14. Eva

    He without sin cast the first stone. We have all sinned an come short of God's Glory. For those of you who may judge Pastor Long examine yourself. If he did the things he was accused of God and only God will deal with him. We put too much faith in man and not enough faith in our heavenly father. Instead of judging him PRAY for Pastor Long and every Pastor of all ethic background. Don't be so quick to judge because God is a forgiving God.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • igbuster

      Sorry sister, you don't know the distinction between judging and holding one accountable. It's the mindset of those (such as yours), that enables predators such as Eddie Long, the means in which to victimize others.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • JM

      Amen that is how all Christians should approach this

      July 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. London

    I agree with Tiffany. These pastors are sick!
    Those young boys mom's took them to Church looking for a mentor and the minister molested and them and took advantage of them. We don't need to forgive him. He needs to ask God to forgive his sick twisted ass. And I'm sure there will be a part two of more boys coming forward! Long is the Devil!

    June 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  16. Tommie

    all i can say is...thats alot of money to pay for something that he supposed to have not done..if you believe that

    June 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  17. frank

    ATMs in the churches? Gross!

    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  18. Tiffany

    This man is a fraud and I feel sorry for anyone who puts their trust and money into someone like him, Creflo Dollar or any other so called "pastor". They don't care about their congregations all they care about is filling the pockets of those expensive suits they wear with their followers hard earned money. I would NEVER put my trust in a pastor that has an "entourage", private jet and big mansion, while most of their congregation struggles to pay bills, I don't see any of these so called "pastors" helping them out, instead, they tell their congregation to forgo bills and give that money to the "church"...yeah rite. These individuals (wives included) are a bunch of con artists, they have ATM's in their churches and they ask for W2's as a prerequisite to joining their church, the more money you make the closer you can sit to the front. I wouldn't pay a dollar to sit in the presence of any one of these individuals.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Tiffany 2

      Shame on your Tiffany.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • EJAYWOOD

      Paul clearly states that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities in high places ; He is suppose to be setting a principal and he is in fact destroying the thing that God stand for , serving the flesh and the creation more than the creator who is blessed forever ; Man will always have a battle between flesh and spirit; he is more flesh than spirit ever in his dress muscles and tight shirts ; which has no place in the spirit; " dealing with matters of the holy ghost "he can speck it but he can"t live it ; which is the trouble with a lot of modern day Christians ; do as i say not as i do.........old fashion parents had the same concept , its not just Eddie he got caught , he was just falling weak to the flesh and his own desires ; only thing is ,he is responsible for the souls of those under his leadership ; He must answer and atone to God for those actions , you think for a moment we are being hard on him ; God has a way of letting us know when we are wrong that lets us know we need to change . I Truly feel God is working with that man...........

      June 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Ms. G

      I agree, you can't have your wedding or a family members funeral at some of these mega churches. And youhave to be in a certain income bracket for seating. Let me just help a smaller struggling congregation.

      June 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • cynthia

      Sorry, but Tiffany hit the nail on the head. Enough said!!!!

      June 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Ruth

      Don't include Pastor Dollar in on this – I was a member of Pastor Dollar's church back in the 90"s I saw the work that God is doing with him and his church, and the anointing on his life – I didn't make a lot of money at this time and I sat in front all the time. I thank God that we are able to see a Pastor get around the world in his own personal jet and preach the Word of God and the Good New that God wants all of us to have a good life. I thank God to have a pastor that is able to live well. I'm sorry that you don't know the Word of God and that you should study more and learn of how God has prospered, and healed people. I saw God do miracles in building the Dome for Pastor Dollar and his church – He is just proof of what God will do for me and you. Yes, God has done great things for me and my family. We just have to come to the level that Pastor Dollar is so that we can walk in the anointing that he is in order to get the result that he has gotten from God. God is working on me everyday because he just wants the best for me. But, I have years and years of being beating down in this world, but thanks to people like Pastor Dollar I don't lost site of how Good God is. If any of us had the money and resources that he has we would live the God life too. That why God Blesses him so, because he does not lose site of his calling. If you study and do your research you will find all of the people God Bless in the Bible lived very well. My God is a Good God – he wants us to walk in love and live a good Life. Because God Loves you and wants the best for you, me, and Pastor Dollar.

      The only reason I'm not attending Pastor Dollar's church is because I had to move back to Alaska, and do my job in Iraq – I still get his tape. Only because I was there to see for my self what God can do in a man's life that will serve him with all of his heart and strength for God's people. W2 Form I think that is so that the church will get know who you are – alot of people come to the church because that need healing and try to be someone or something that they are not. When you meet people you want to know who they are and were they work, and what they are about. Pastor Dollar is not only anointed, but he is a very smart business person because his mentor is "Jesus".

      Don't hate – I want to live in a mansion too and I believe that is God's plan for me, because that is what his Words says and it didn't come from Pastor Dollar it came from God's Words. "And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth" Deuteronomy 8:18 – and there are many more promises of God to help me, you and anyone else that seeks him with all of their heart get this wealth. This is blessing me as I bless you.

      My prayer is that we not only look at man of God, but that we seek the Holy Spirit. Because people are going to hell.

      Love from Alaska
      P.S. – Love God – that is all he asked and wants.
      Forgive any misspelled words or grammar errors – I had a hard life, but it is getting better.

      June 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Name*tressa

      Listen to the message, not the messenger. Amen.

      July 6, 2011 at 3:51 am |
  19. Sigrid Burson

    I believe we should focus on Bishop Eddie Long recovery whether its a scandal or not. The best thing we can do is pray and believing that God would restore the man of God and thathe will open his eyes to what God really has for him. Thank God for second chance. We must build the faith and not tear down. What is happening is that we are tainting God's love and God cannot be mock so see leave the man of God be. Blessings Bishop God is working it out.

    June 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • EJAYWOOD

      i agree with you sister; Gods going to take him to different level ; He first must forgive himself and repent Gods got a blessing for him that eyes have not seen , nor have ears heard.........

      June 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  20. raptureman

    follow God, not man...go to church only if you are weak and need structure....

    June 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Geegee

      Yes, follow God and not man BUT go to church – READ the bible, it's God's Word – it clearly states "do not forsake the assembly of yourselves together in His name (parapharased). You must go to church just make sure its a bible teaching church but its where your human spirit is fed. Remember, FAITH comes by hearing, hearing the word of GOD. How can you hear if you're not there (at church)? If you don't hear how will you receive faith? This is all bible not man's theology!

      July 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
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