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. louis

    Another pervert who uses this so called "religion" scam as a way to get $ and power. He molests children and the DUMB followers still give him his job back and give more $ to do it again.....

    May 27, 2011 at 7:17 am |


    May 27, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • Can't Stop Laughing In Buckhead

      THAT is some goo. d parenting. I couldn't agree more.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • ComeOnMan9

      One of the newspaper articles implied he chose boys with broken homes and obvious vulnerabilities. Eddie man, if you have any love at all for the Creator, step aside, and get therapy.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • Robert

      You make a point, but don't forget that Pastor Long developed a long term relationship with these boys (now men). These boys had no father figure in their lives. Initially Pastor Long expressed only an interest in their lives, and it wasn't until months later or even years that he started giving them small gifts etc. Nothing really for a mother to have a concern about. He knew these boys for a couple of years or longer before spending any private time with them. By that time, the mother and child had developed a level of trust in the man. And as we remember when this story first broke months ago, Pastor Long used a rationale with the boys that he was building a spiritual relationship with the boys by having a physical one with them. You can't blame the boys because they were still mentally immature and didn't know differently

      May 27, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  3. Anthony in Maryland

    I understand "Forgiveness" but Bishop Long needs to step down as he is a hypocrite! He paid "Hush" money to those young men because he did not want the truth to come out. You see if he had NOTHING to hide he would not conceal the truth. New Birth Church should not allow their image to be stained by his continued tenure. I am a African-American and have went to New Birth many years ago when I lived in Atlanta so I am not one who is giving the Bishop a "Pass" on his conduct. Bishop you are a embarassment!

    May 27, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  4. Xeo

    Maybe he should just come out of the closet.

    May 27, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • ComeOnMan9

      What closet? Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano, and Hellen Keller could see this man was not desirous of adult female company.

      May 27, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • joe

      i know the truth will come out. guess he dropped the stones he spoke of .not judging you or anyone vow to fight if you truly are a man of GOD truth would be spoken not the devious way you and the church handled it im more of a man than you will ever be guess you are afraid of losing all those members and money .and to all your members may you be blessed by satans seed

      May 27, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  5. JerrynFlorida

    What happened!? I was lead to believe this money "grubbing" preacher was innocent of all the accusations against him.

    Just like our present administration; so much for honesty, integrity and transparency.

    Stay tuned!

    May 27, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  6. bertha

    This article is a troll's dream! where do I start? bwwwwaaaahhhaahahahahahaha

    May 27, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  7. DS

    To go through this type of scandal and to stay in the "Pulpit" is shocking. If he is a man of God, then he will know and understand why he must step down. If he is familiar with his Bible, then he will know that it says at 1TImothy 3: 1-7 "1

    That statement is faithful.

    If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work. 2 The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, 3 not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, 4 a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness; 5 (if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?) 6 not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up [with pride] and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil. 7 Moreover, he should also have a fine testimony from people on the outside, in order that he might not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil."

    This man is not qualified to teach anyone. It should never be what we think is right, it should always be what Fod says is right. Wake up!!!

    May 27, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  8. EddyL

    Just like Michael Jackson: pay them off, shut them up, and continue to deny the charges. If Long was innocent, he;d fight them in court, but he's just another sleazeball liar.

    May 27, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • Wife2AtheistSteve

      By paying them off, he is admitting his guilt...now the church should force him to step down and kick his sorry butt to the curb.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • lefty

      and like MJ he we probably come out of this more popular and richer than ever

      May 27, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  9. Kknet

    We all make mistakes in life. If he has confessed his wrongs. God is just to forgive. God is a God of second chances. So let us forgive one another and let God be the judge. I say you all take a good look into ur own personal life. N u would also find that there r weaknesses n un confessed sins. My point is. Forgive. N let God rather than spend ur time judging man. We all have sinned n fallen short of the glory of God

    May 27, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • Marv Says

      You sound like one of those Black folks mentioned in the article with a short memory and too willing to forgive. Its one thing to forgive–another to put a hypocrite paster back in charge of the flock he failed to lead. Forgive him, 'Yes', leave him a position of leadership at this point? Heck NO!

      May 27, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Mary

      Lord why are Jesus freaks so bad with spelling?

      May 27, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • ComeOnMan9

      Baby, I am not asking you to get on Sunday morning and throw a big rock(cast the first stone), you know just as I am typing, I changed my idea. Okay the four separate young men(all under 18 while being groomed) have already cast the first four stones, his congregation should cast the rest. Technically I can't call him a pedophile because the boys were adolescents. Lemme tell you what I will never call him, Reverend, Pastor, and especially not Bishop. When you touch children(people under18), I don't like you no more.

      May 27, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Anthony in Maryland

      You are very naive! Forgiveness yes, but because of his stature he should step down since the church is much bigger than he is. Sad that many of you don't see this and are willing to support this hypocrite.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Wife2AtheistSteve

      What exactly are you thinking??? "Forgive. N let God rather than spend ur time judging man. We all have sinned n fallen short of the glory of God" This goes beyond petty crimes...this man used his power to harm people. He harmed innocent children and as much as I understand you believe he will be judged in the end, he resides in a secular country that does not give him that benefit...we believe he should be punished for his crimes in the here and now. Of course from my stand point I refuse to accept that he will be pay in the after-life, thus the reason we don't leave this sort of stuff for 'god' to deal with, the courts see it similarly...if god is all powerful and all knowing he would never have allowed this to happen in the first place. By paying off the men he admitted his guilt, now he will pay for it, as he should. Be an abuse survivor and live the life with the after effects before speaking and defending the abuser. I don't forgive that easily...those abused are forced to live the trauma for life! No justice will ever be enough to heal the damage this monster created!

      May 27, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • PatronAGE

      Did he accept it and ask for forgiveness? No, he admits nothin but just paid them to shut them up.

      Forgive him? NO, stoned him to death? PERFECT!

      May 27, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  10. Pastor hjpjr

    To "pay off" means to "lay off" so that you can continue to do evil. God through Peter said this back in the first century...
    2Pe 2:1-3 NASB – [1] But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. [2] Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; [3] and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  11. batchoftruth

    One more in a long line of hypocrites preying on the feeble minded.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:12 am |
    • Wife2AtheistSteve

      a rational mind...thank you

      May 27, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  12. BECK

    Just another christ-ian Hypocrite making the world a worse place to live in.

    May 27, 2011 at 3:04 am |
  13. mike

    you better start taking up bigger offerings there eddie, cuz ur gonna need it to bail you out next time. Now that you think you got away with it you will find away to do it again. But you will get busted and its just a matter of time before it all blows up in your face. If you lay with dogs ur gonna get fleas, and Eddie you aint nuttin but a big flea bag fa**ot pedophile. Go find a job somewhere and leave people alone.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  14. Phil in Oregon

    Camping's followers didn't leave him, Long's won't either. Once people invest lots of time and effort into something they are unwilling to change, preferring the imperfect place they are over an even scarier world 'out there'. Then the offenders feel forgiven and empowered to continue. It's a sad cycle.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • PatronAGE

      John: Ey, Juan why can't you quit smoking?
      Juan: It's too late John, I already incurred a lot of expense for it.

      May 27, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  15. JOHN DOE

    Eddie Long , Rev Ike , Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Jim Jones, Juanita Bynum, David Koresh, Harold Camping, Ted Haggard, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Daddy Grace , Jimmy Swaggart, Jamal Bryant and all the perverted Catholic priest; God is invisible and he talks to these people privately so then can interpret his word the "bible" which has ghost writers who were not eye witnesses to any miracles , burning bushes, talking snakes and immaculate conceptions . At some point you all have to connect the dots because the rest of the world is waiting on you.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:47 am |
  16. Whatever...

    PT Barnum said, "there's a sucker born every minute." ANY moron enabling this pedophile to continue in his lavish lifestyle without any consequences is one of the suckers of whom PT Barnum speaks....WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! WAKE UP!!!

    May 27, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  17. Ben Thare

    Dear God,

    I know you're busy dealing with the Universe and everything, but do you think you can have your HR director send down some better people to represent your interests? The current crop of morons doing your work are failing big time.

    Love, Ben. 🙂

    May 27, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Lynn

      That is the best response of all time!

      May 27, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Steve (the real one)


      Even as a Christian, I cannot say I disagree. I would just say please do not include every preacher or church leader in this. There are many who are faithful to the truth and try hard to live it and teach it everyday. These are the ones you NEVER read about! Why? Bad news sells! I am highly disappointed by all of this. If I was amember there, last Sunday would have been my last time! Too many if us elevate humans above God and his word!

      May 27, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Dear Ben,

      Garbage in, garbage out.



      May 27, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  18. Charles Builter

    .....another sad story of a rich churcher and his pitiful flock of supportive and enabling suckers. This ain't forgiving....this is co-dependency of the lowest order.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  19. Mavis

    God's Money was used to silence these people?I have a feeling something Big was getting ready to happen,after all this "so called " man of God said he was going to fight it till the end...LIAR.

    May 27, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  20. rick

    Way to go Mr Long, you bought your way out of jail and into hell.

    May 27, 2011 at 1:28 am |
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