August 25th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) - Two young men who last fall sued Atlanta megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long for allegedly manipulating them into having sex when they were teens are speaking out against the pastor for the first time since settling with him out of court.
On Wednesday, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, now in their early 20s, gave an exclusive interview to CNN Atlanta affiliate WSB, saying that they are haunted by their experiences with Long and that they are writing a tell-all book about what they say happened between them and the powerful pastor.
Last September, Parris, LeGrande and two other young men filed suit alleging Long “uses monetary funds from the accounts of New Birth and other corporate and non-profit corporate accounts to entice the young men with cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics.” The accusations were particularly controversial because Long, who is married, has preached passionately against homosexuality for years.
In May, following months of mediation, Long and Parris and LeGrande reached an undisclosed settlement agreement. The terms are not public.
However, WSB reported Wednesday that the men claim Long made cash payments to them in exchange for their pledge to never talk about the case again.
But LeGrande and Parris said that they couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“It's just not enough anymore. I thought I could cover the pain up. I thought I could move, start over and everything will go away. I was terribly wrong," said Parris.
Talking with WSB, the men delved into details about their alleged relationship with Long, who has maintained his innocence from the start. On Thursday, Long media representative Art Franklin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Parris told WSB that he grew up without a father and that Long seized on that vulnerability. “To have a man love me for just who I was. I just had to be me, and love him back,” said Parris.
Jamal Parris pointed to a “JL” tattoo on his arm, which he said stands for “Jamal Long,” suggesting an extraordinarily close relationship between the two. Parris said Long was with him when he got inked.
The men told WSB that writing a book is part of their effort at healing, though it’s unclear if the men are publishing the book themselves or if they have a book contract.
"You ain't ready for the secrets,” Parris said. “I don't care if this book sells one copy. But if it's just for me, this is what my life looked like, this is my voice for the first time.”
“Ten years of details, each person,” LeGrande said. “It's gonna be a book full of 'wow's' and 'ahh's' and 'Oh my Gods.'"
The men said they’re outraged and hurt that Long has maintained the respect of much of his 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist congregation in the face of the scandal.
LeGrande and Parris were angry and saddened when Long told his cheering congregants last fall that he would fight the allegations, comparing himself to David under attack from Goliath.
“If you read the Bible again, mister, we are David,” LeGrande told WSB. (Watch LeGrande and Parris talk about their reaction.)
In Wednesday’s interview, the men said they don’t care that talking about the case could mean risking their settlement money.
“I feel like burning [the money],” LeGrande said.
“I’m going to tell the world – money does not buy happiness,” he said. “When you sleep at night, the problems are still there. The money stuff, who cares about the number.”
In July, police arrested Parris in Miami Beach, Florida, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Parris was reportedly driving a 2011 BMW that had no tags. Florida Highway Patrol officers found 181 grams of marijuana, 50 clear plastic baggies, a Taurus semiautomatic handgun and $1,250 in the car, according to the AJC.
Parris was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm while committing a felony. He was also charged with operating a motor vehicle with no registration, according to the AJC.
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