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. troy

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

    True.....that's why you haven't heard one black person mention slavery in the 148 years since it was abolished.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Uruuur

      Good point.

      How does this guy sodomizing his followers arrive on the BELIEF BLOG? Unless one maintains that this is beyond belief. B.B. is awful idea CNN!!!

      May 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Excellent Point. I think that is code for black folk now need to circle the wagons and pay no attention to the advice of scripture!

      May 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • bailoutsos

      OJ got off on 2 murders by a jury of his peers: The Jury By Race: 9 Blacks, 1 Hispanics, 2 Whites

      May 27, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Patricia

      Cause we ain't talking about slavery, we are talking about Nasty Bishop Eddie Long.

      Please why is he wearing that crazy looking hair piece is that supposed to give him a new I didn't do it look....

      May 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  2. Nurse Lisa

    A Bishop needs to be above reproach – hiding the outcome is cowardly.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • get$aved

      Only 1 reason this "bishop" (and I use that term VERY loosely) settled.....evil likes to stay in the dark, where their deeds cannot be seen by men. The bottom line: God knows what he did, and that's enough for me.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • bailoutsos

      Hiding everything like the Catholic church does.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  3. Long Supporter

    As a member of his church I am fully confident in his innocence. Any free thinking person should know that the best way to a pay day is to accuse a major public figure of wrong doing of any kind publicly. Lawyers know this as well since they almost 100% of the time end up in a settlement. Any time you do this it automatically erode their persona in the public because regardless if the accusations are true or not certain sectors of the public will believe them even if there is no merit to the accusations, thereby forcing a settlement. As a person who knows one of the accusers personally, I can say that this was nothing more than a shakedown for money. If there was any hint of wrong doing on the part of the Bishop why not seek some sort of criminal remedy rather than punitive? Why not expose the Bishop for what he was when the events were happening rather then wait years later when you were caught stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and electronics? Can anyone say retaliation??? Doesn't anyone see a problem with this time line??? Before anyone passes judgement on the Bishop which is very easy to do, try and think honestly and clearly about any options he could have taken. A long drawn out trial in civil court would have cost millions and would have eroded his name even more with accusers sitting in open court saying aloud things that aren't true. It has happened to too many famous and successful people. I think the court of public opinion has already rendered a guilty verdict on a man who truly doesn't deserve this.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nurse Lisa

      Did all 4 plan a single heist and why were they not arrested? Something doesn't sit right with that tale either. Long loudly and publicly proclaimed he wanted his day in court to tell the truth, now the case details remain hidden from everyone which would be unnecessary if the story vindicated Long. All that is hidden comes to light... and the truth shall set us free.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Oscar

      I said it about Michael Jackson when he settled for 10 million and I'll say it again about Long. There is no way possible with hideous charges like this that I would ever settle no matter what. I would fight them until the day I died. There OBVIOUSLY was some truth to it if he wanted it to go away. Hopefully the sheep in his flock will wake up and realize what this man of Christ is really about.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • get$aved

      Anyone who is a "follower" of Eddie Long needs to step back and take a seriously hard look at who you're putting up on that pedestal. He is no more "religious" or "super-spiritual" than anyone else who believes in God. In settling, it's quite obvious he wants his deeds to stay in the dark. Power corrupts.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Kotter

      Mr. Long Supporter. Let's say ol' Ed is innocent of the accusations (sorry, I will never refer to him as bishop). Are you fully supportive of his lifestyle that you help to provide. Does ol' Ed teach you that pride is a sin? Who humbles themselves at the foot of God in a $3,000 suit and driving a $600,000 Bentley?

      You Sir, along with the rest of the flock are being duped by a charlatan. Is it true there are more pictures of Ed in your church than there are crosses? Yeah, I bet God really loves him for that one. I feel sorry for you. I really do.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • David, CA

      Long Supporter- A fool and his money are soon parted.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Mimoco

      You are brainwashed like all of the other members of his church. The thought of him makes me want to vomit, and you people go and worship him every week. Wake up!!! You serve a demon.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • rcode

      Now we all understand why you're a "follower". He's nothing but a pedophile buying his way out of a jam.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Bishop Batty

      Dude is gay alllll day lol So what. What I hate is he is a hypocrite and rally against gays when he is gay/bi/whatever. and seriously, that rug on his head and those horrible clothes he wear should get he 3-5 easily lol Im just saying

      May 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • sparkle1970

      Long Supporter, I will pray for you and your congregation. I remember YOUR Bishop stating that he was going to fight these charges, comparing himself to David fighting Goliath. Apparently, these were just words. YOUR Bishop instead decided to settle out of court, and your reasoning is that he didn't want the accusers to give "false details" that would further show him in a "bad light". What makes you so certain that all the details are false?? Contrary to what you may believe, most cases are settled out of court to avoid certain "facts" coming to light. Do I know YOUR Bishop..no. Do I think he's guilty of something...yes!! But ofcourse, you and fellow church members have convinced yourselves that he could not possibly be gay, he's married for crying out loud, and so you will do what you do best....forgive him. You'll say..."It's best to give them the money and let's move on", anything to avoid facing a possible truth. You say only God can judge him, well, I say, only God SHOULD judge him. The fact is, people are judged on a daily bases by other people, thus the justice system. I don't know the accusers, but I'm willing to bet the farm that they had SOMETHING incrimination on the man, otherwise he would have fought this thing til the end. False prophets....beware!!!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • sparkle1970

      Oops...I meant incriminating!!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Lason

      LONG SUPPORTER-The long drawn out court battle would have COST alot less than 20 million dollars. YOU ARE A IDIOT...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Nicole Collin

      STOP drinking the cherry KOOL-AID and being a fool! I can't STAND silly black folk that keep flocking to these mega churches hoping to get rich! He is GUILTY and you all know it! DISGUSTED!!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Wife2AtheistSteve

      "A long drawn out trial in civil court would have cost millions and would have eroded his name even more with accusers sitting in open court saying aloud things that aren't true."

      Are you suffering from I.D.-10-T syndrome??? Seriously the above comment take from your long spew in support of a pedophile would indicate you potentially are!! Were you present when this man was abusing these men as children to know whether or not it is true?? So basically if I am reading this right you are letting this sort of accusation go as being false because they didn't come out sooner??? Has it ever occurred to you that a great many victims do not come out openly until years later?? Given that fact does not mean Long is innocent! Use some sense, if this were your child or relative you would hopefully stand behind them instead of taking the side of someone who should be behind bars instead of walking free. Once again religion proves it is damaging. People like you sicken me!

      May 27, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Q

      I only have one question. Will you post a comment like this when he does it again?

      May 27, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Jomm

      MJ's case was far different than this case. I wish people would stop trying to compare Jackson's case with this Pastors case. NOT EVERY SETTLEMENT a person is guilty just like NOT everyone arrest is guilty. YOu have to look at every thiing in a case by case. Since I am sone who had insight to the Jackson, I can tell you MJ was INNOCENT. JOhnnie Cochran told MJ to settle due to people including his sister Latoya lying on him (later with Larry King she admitted she lie and her ex husband Jack Gordon). 5 bodyguard lied who later had to PAY Jackson 5 million dollars in slander. A tabloid PAID someone lie and say there was tape on Jackson which was a LIE and that person was ordered to PAY Jackson along with a book that came out that year which was BANNED in the United States. Two GRAND JURYS throw the 1993 case out. PICTURES of Jackson was taken and they did NOT match the what the boy was saying (even during Jackson's autopsy proved what that boy said did NOT match). The boy's father was more behind it in which he commited suicide in 2009 (I guess his guilt in what he did to Jackson was too much and he had cancer). In the 2005 case, those people were clearly lying on Jackson due to the 1993 case in thinking they were going to get money. That mother was arrest for FRAUD and had a history of using her children to get money. She LIED on SEARS and SEARS settled with her anyway even though they knew she LIED on them but to get it over with and their business, they settled with her-Sears testified for Jackson. So you see, jackson case was FAR more different than this PAstor.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Lanessa

      Even if this was a "shakedown", the question still remains: Why did Bishop Long settle instead of FIGHT?

      May 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Abovethesnowbelt

      These four men have a gag order as part of the settlement, but you a "long time supporter" have the freedom to trash the reputation of these men? They have no ability to address your abusive comments. Kind of light kicking a defenseless opponate. What does that say those like yourself. If he is innocent why the gag order? You can settle without a gag order.

      May 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Patricia

      If you are confident in his innocence then why is he paying 15 million, I think you have more confidence then he has.

      You need to find another church and you should start to pray you have big problems.

      May 30, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  4. asdelrose

    This man is disgusting.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  5. rasta

    God is not pleased with these preachers who live and thirst after laciviousness

    May 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Can't Stop Laughing In Buckhead

      That's a wonderful Southern word.
      Even a Yankee could appreciate that.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  6. Josh

    Two types of preachers, the greedy and the scary. Greedy just take advantage of people who are depressed and trying to fill a "void" in their lives. Scary, the ones that truly believe the words they preach! (This leads to abortion clinic bombings and flying planes into buildings)

    May 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • get$aved

      Please don't be so narrow minded to lump preachers/pastors into 2 categories. For every Eddie Long, there are many GOOD preachers whose only motive is to spread the word of Jesus Christ to all who will hear. Are any of them PERFECT? No. But, then again, neither are YOU.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • David, CA

      greedy- scary... it's all about power and control and NONE of it about god or how to live a good life. It's the oldest scam known to mankind.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  7. BellevueTechie

    I think we need to stop these cases from being plea-bargained or settled out of court. It's time these hypocritical jerks got more than a slap on the wrist for all their hate mongering against minorities when they are secretly taking part in the very behavior that they decry. Disgusting.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  8. ISITME?

    Most people believe the Pastor first, God Second! They look up to the Pastor and want his approval at any cost. Oh and dont forget about being suspect and a "negative" person should you question his behavior. It is called Judging under their religion. So when the church says Amen and you dont...watch out, you troublemaker, they want clones and zombies so they can be the Longs of the Fake Kingdom. Sick

    May 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  9. Jeff Bertram

    Liars thieves and fools are the only ones in church. Liars and thieves run it and fools attend. Add this church to the church of pedophiles. EVOLVE!!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • BellevueTechie

      That statement is ridiculous. There are plenty of people in churches who are absolutely sincere in their beliefs. You can debate about whether they are right or not, but you are way out of line suggesting that millions of people who attend church are fools. I certainly don't have all the answers and I'll bet you don't either.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Jeff Bertram

      What answers do you speak of? Fools look for meaning where none is necessary. god is a delusion and the thieves are happy to separate the fools and their money.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • UncleM

      Religion is a lie. Period. Deeply held belief is not to be respected, it is delusion.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Patricia

      There are some good churches out there. But there are some that are the Den of the Devil. I used to be a member of one in Washington, DC, it gave me some good entertainment a good shout and a good networking experience but I knew it was all about the money. I used to tell my Pastor that when I wanted entertainment i came to church but when i really wanted to praised the lord I stayed home and prayed for myself.

      Jeff Bertram you do speak some truth.....

      May 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • dnnisjos

      Jeff B. well say and i agree a 1000 %. onlly thieves fools, ect. go to this mega churches, look a Eddie Long, persona, diamonds rings $5000.00 dollars suits. and now millions of dollars on this settleman, remember what he said, i will fight this to the end, why did you settle? GUILTY, GULTY, GUILTY

      May 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  10. ISITME?

    Sometimes you wish God would just.........Bless Him!!! (Exactly)

    May 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  11. hih

    I thought he said he was David against goliath and he had stones and the truth on his side....sounds like he decided a pay off was the best route....oh brother

    May 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  12. nofoldems

    Why is this not being pursued as a criminal case? Why is this left in civil courts to settle? Is the Church exempt from criminal justice?

    May 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Me

      "Why is this not being pursued as a criminal case?" – Because all parties here were adults. And in GA after the age of 16 everyone is considered consenting, unless physically forced.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  13. hih

    Wow.. if people dont question a pastor who sends text photos of himself strutting about and traveling with young men they deserve what they get.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  14. Artist

    “This is what he knows,” Lee said. “He’s not going to able to sell insurance or cars. He’s c o ck y. He’s confident. He believes in redemption.”
    Notice what he was compared with...... short memories equal stupidity. The guy is a complete fraud.

    May 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • David, CA

      I think he would do well selling insurance or used cars. Fit's him like one of his too tight T-shirts (that he sent to his accusers.. wth was that all about anyway? Did God tell him to do it?)

      May 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  15. Artist

    I meant Long not Lee

    May 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  16. Artist

    I wonder if Lee feels he was born that way or he chooses?

    May 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  17. 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 5:49 pm |
    • Josh

      Two types of preachers, the greedy and the scary. Greedy just take advantage of people who are depressed and trying to fill a "void" in their lives. Scary, the ones that truly believe the words they preach! (This leads to abortion clinic bombings and flying planes into buildings)

      May 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  18. JohnR

    Out-of-court settlements tend to come with a technical "no admission of wrong doing". But I can't view this guy as anything other than a screaming hypocrite. In a day and age when gays and lesbians are finally getting a little bit of a fair hearing, this guy preaches and campaigns against them while being something very different in his own life. We have seen this way too often before.

    May 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  19. Artist

    Yes, there is some validity to the suits. You settle when you have exposure of wrong doing. The truth would not have set him free....pay up!

    May 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jomm

      That is lie. People settle for different reason. That is like saying everyone who is arrest is guilty of the came they are accused. WRONG..

      May 27, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  20. jojo

    Gee, is he related to Oprah???????????

    May 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • ScottK

      Yesbut only because he had one really crazy night with Stedman...

      May 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Scott K

      LOL...! 🙂


      May 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
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