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. Amura02

    LOL, its so funny, that all you people are shocked that preachers/church are in it for themselves. I remember when i was a blind lamb also, and then i wrote a paper of the Prophet Muhammad who started Islam. I was amazed that he started with the Holy Bible and expanded on it, but Catholics and Christians wont tell you that. They say Jesus is the first prophet and Muhammad saw himself as the last. There r so many similarities between the Koran, Torah, and Bible that it still amazes me that preachers and religious leaders teach so much HATE!!!! They all say Love you Enemies, but who does that? No one. i read these works for me and no one else. I don't give my money to false Gods and you should stop also. Religion is supposed to be uplifting but all i c it do is tear people down. Think on this.... What have you learned at ur temple/mosque/church that contradicts the said words of the prophets. People, Jesus was Jewish!!!! y r they hated so much. he preached only love and help, but all i c is hate and self-fishness. he lived in squalor, ate with the help of friends, but our preachers live in mansions. a true man of the Lord would be a follower. Black people how many are u still paying on the building fund, how long hav u been paying. Stop putting the wrong people on pedestals. There r always signs..... Peace

    May 27, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I suppose Muhammad has just copied big parts of our Holy Bible and just added on some own ideas or removed things, not compatible to his new concept. I have read the whole Koran. The Koran rejects the trinity and the divine sonship of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Islam and Christianity can never be united, because they are enemies by nature. Of course I refer to the opposing doctrines of the two religions. According to the Holy Bible I love my Moslem neighbours and workmates. What they could think about me according to the Koran, I don't consider, because perhaps it would not promote my love in Christ.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  2. HateCults

    I used to look up to these so called "men of God" with reverence, etc. but not anymore. why and what for? you will be hard pressed to find another group of people to match the likelihood of a major scandal in every year, non more reviled than a child molesters, women molesters, rapists etc propagated in the name of faith. this pompous dirt bag is guilty there's no other plausible reason to settle.

    this is not the last of him and his shenanigans, stay tuned and patient he will do a repeat. what's predictable – it's in him he can't help it.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  3. Black, Esq.

    That comment about black people having short memories is so condescending and incendiary. Sigh. Look, I'm black and a Christian, and would never forgive this monster, because he is a predator. Him being gay is not the problem. Him being a hypocrite and molestor is. God loves the gays, btw, he made them that way.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Wingrider

      If God is perfect, and created Heaven and Earth, then all his creation is perfect. Therefore, Gays, Lesbians, and Rev. Bishop are perfect, along with the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. We need to realize that if we are all children of this God, He loves us all equally, and perfectly. But, it is a slam to the perfect black community to claim they have short memories.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Leigh

      Don't sit up here and call yourself a "Christian", and say the GOD made Gays that way. If you are a "Christian", then you should know that it's written in Genesis, 1 Corth and 2 Corth, and in Hebrews, that GOD does NOT approve of that lifestyle. He loves the sinner, not the sin. You must just be a believer, because if you were a follower, you would know his word,a nd you would have an intimate relationship with him, and know that there's no way he made man or woman to live that way. Those who do are just feeding a tendency, and have chosen that path. Humans are NOT born GAY. That's a lie that Satan uses to destroy what GOD has made.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Really? Please explain then why that lifestyle is condemned. Romans chapter 1:25-31 read it for yourself! Yes God loves them, that lifestyle however, is a different matter!

      May 27, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • trulyblessed

      I'm sorry but what did you mean about being a Christian and not forgiving someone??...WOW!! no wonder people shun us and talk bad about the church it's because of people who CALL themsleves Christians and yet talk about unforgiveness. So let me just refresh your Christian memory about what our LORD, FATHER, CREATOR and yes JUDGE! says about unforfivenss and then maybe you can pray about it and ask the HOLY SPIRIT for revelationI .... Colossians 3:13
      Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mat 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" and Jesus said tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Forgiveness is not easy and you don't have to be best buds with the person but we are to FORGIVE not for there sake but for OURS.. and there are plenty of other verses on that subject, that's how important that is to HIM. So instead of agreeing with the wolves you need to be a sheep (set apart) and pray for people who have fallen pastors or otherwise, it's not our job to JUDGE them, but the Fathers alone..stop trying to be God and just do HIS will. Trusting in God to handle His flock.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • PatronAGE

      @truly blessed...

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

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

      I'll be glad and honored should be given the opportunity and privilege to cast the first one.

      May 28, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  4. Mike

    What a fraud. He probably used the church collection money to pay these people the hundreds of thousands that i'm sure they are getting paid.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    I suppose, Mr. Eddie Long is bishop of a rebaptizing Free Church. I don't know, which kind of baptism is practised at the Free Church of Mr. Long. Assumed, Mr. Long and his Free Church see baptism as a mere symbolic act, I would not wonder that he experienced a fall (I don't know, whether he has really experienced a fall, but it is supposed in the article above), because he cannot be connected with the true Redeemer.

    It is a big problem even in Germany that the ordinary Free Churches just have a two-dimensional Jesus, but not the real Jesus. They know (or believe to know) everything about the Bible, but often don't experience the releasing strength and power of God's Word.

    The releasing strength and power of the real Redeemer Jesus Christ we receive by the sacramental baptism (Churches believing in sacramental baptism do not practice rebaptism, but accept the one Holy Baptism and a church member can shift the church without being baptized again). By Holy Baptism Jesus calls us to be His disciples. This Call is supernatural and powerful. Baptism comes directly from heaven and God acts during baptism. The Churches just administrate baptism, but the releasing power comes from the triune God.

    The Free Churches try to follow Jesus without His supernatural Call. They will fail. Discipleship is solely possible in the power of Jesus' Call. It is crucial to have experienced the Call.


    May 27, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  6. Daniel

    Why do people call this guy a bishop? He is no such thing. Calling yourself a bishop doesn't make you one. The only people who can legitimately call themselves bishop are those so ordained in the Roman Cathloic, Episcopalian and Orthodox Churches. Mr. Long is a fraud through and through even in his appelation. And so is his "church'...

    May 27, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • annasmum

      The Bible defines what a Bishop is. It is not just reserved for Catholics, et al. Read 1 Timothy 3 which defines the role of a Bishop.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  7. Jomm

    Also, Oscar, you can NOT put yourself in these people shoes. YOu are not a public figure and have your whole career riding on lies. So you can not say what you will or will not do. As for this pastor, he comes off as guilty regardless if he is guilty or not because he did not corportate at first and boy stood their ground and NEVER changed their stories; In Michael Jackson's case, MJ stood his ground and the boys lied an changed their stories.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. Wynn

    I'm just wondering where was Mrs Long during all these trips,and why or did she question any of these relationships with young men.Also is it true that she said her husband would wrestle naked with thier sons.Anybody know?

    May 27, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • jumpbigr

      He is no Bishop, He is a scam just like most of the religions out there. Look at the massive cover up by the catholic church. The Popes job before he became POPE was to deal with all of the accused pedophile gaymen of the cloth and what he did was relocate them. Read about it and it will open your eyes

      May 27, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  9. Kristal

    its 1 thing 2 b gay and hide it its another 2 speak evil about being gay and its another 2 conceal the fact u r gay own up u crook eddie long is a closet gay man that goes against his beliefs its a money grab from people who believe in god and religion

    May 27, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • jumpbigr

      What a HUGE Giant SC-m Bag he settles out of court and then continues to have his parish of believers that look the other way because they need his guidance WOW HOLY CR-P if they are in such need of a life coach they should join Scientology

      May 27, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  10. Mychaeltodd

    He had no choice either way, guilty as sin...............The Sermon on Sunday?-"The Holy Lie".

    May 27, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  11. CW

    Okay if this guy did the things he is accused of there isn't one person who knows for sure except for the accusers and Mr. Long. I see a lot of finger pointing and people poking fun but there are two ways to look at this

    1. What if these men only wanted "money" so this settlement allows them to receive this "money" they were after. I mean if someone did this to me....no amount of money would do.....I would want them na.iled to the wall. If I were one of these guys and I needed the money though...of co.ar.se I would want to settle out of court.

    2. What if Bishop long is guilty? Then that could be the reason he settled out of court.

    I guess the only question is this "who initiated wanting to settle?" Anyway no one will truly know if he did it.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • LPF

      But, the logic there is a bit flawed. They were getting lots of money and gifts with him. At some point, you do not want your family, friends, church and entire city to know the details of what went on! I don't blame these young men at all for not wanting to drag their names through any further.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Therein lies the problem with this entire thing, we will never get a trial to prove his guilt or innocence.

      We don't know the truth, and we never will. There are ample reasons on both sides to settle. The cost of the trial, in both the monetary sense and the mental anguish sense, would be steep. For the boys making the accusation, they might not have to put out any money, but they would have to relive what happened to them in front of witnesses. For Long, there's the cost of the lawyers as well as the emotional anguish (regardless of guilt or innocence, this sort of trial must weigh heavy on the accused).

      There are good reasons then to avoid the trial. The down side is that Long keeps his job, keeps being allowed in a position to re-offend (if he is in fact guilty) and should it happen again, not only are more lives forever changed, but the church takes a harsh, harsh blow that it may never recover from.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  12. Wolf

    Anyone who supports this "man of god" should have his head examined.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Colin

      Anyone who, as an adult, still believes in god, should have their head examined.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Kristal

      right all u said it all

      May 27, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • philologus

      Everyone, when they die, will have their life examined. (If I'm wrong, I have lost nothing, and have lived a good, moral life - helping others and enjoying life. If I'm right, I have lived that same wonderful life, and will gain everything. However, if you're wrong, well... different story.)

      May 27, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Will

      Bishop Long was the head examiner. Yuk Yuk

      May 27, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  13. one

    fighters fight – win, lose or draw we fight, HE DID IT and that's why he wont fight it.
    the church is not a safe place for kids, How long will this go on with these people who say they are of god, but harm kids? i don't want to be apart of a church that would let this happen and not remove this demon

    May 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • big bill

      Most people think it is only the catholic church that has this problem but it isnt it is an epidemic in all social orginizations. Like boy scouts of America they have a lot of scandal but we almost never hear about it or some of the Jewish groups you may hear about it once then never again. What I dont understand is why is this guy still allowed to have his church? and Why is this epidemic not being exposed from all groups? We need to protect our kids and teach them what is appropriate touching and not. Look at how many doctors MD as well as DDS as well PHD have abused their paitents! People are sick because they dont follow God they follow themselves!~

      May 27, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  14. TALKing point

    Bishop Long: "let tell the truth to the whole world and the truth will set you free". Is this passage that he used to preach to people all the time. now let the truth light shed on his.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Kristal

      religion is a farce there is no god never was never will b now jesus was a real person with no powers none notta but we want 2 believe mankind has pulled the wool over every gulliable human eyes all becay\use of thee almighty dollar its all about the cash crooks all of them

      May 27, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  15. Shan

    On Shade45XM radio they reported that the settlement was $15M. And that "LAWWWD that's a lotta money"!

    May 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  16. JHL

    Faced with these types of allegations, innocent people don't settle lawsuits. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Kristal

      guilty as the men say but money makes it all go away its not right the dummys r not being honest the point was 2 prove he was a closet gay man ahhhhhhhhhhhh now they have the cash moron's

      May 27, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  17. stonedwhitetrash

    apparently most members of his church do the same or they would kick him out.

    May 27, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  18. Douglas

    So we know the truth that he did abuse these boys, he said he was going to fight this until the end well we know
    he's on the DL like a lot of brothers in the ATL with fine wives

    May 27, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • acts 431

      If you settle out of court, there is only one reason...you are guilty, and the accusers have enough evidence to prove your guilt! What a hypocrite. No wonder the #1 group that Jesus Himself grilled when He was physically here on earth was the religious leaders (read Matthew 23). Jesus Himself also said clearly that many preachers would be sentenced to hell on the day of judgement, despite all their impressive earthly credentials (Matthew 7:21-23). You're a phony, Long.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  19. calvin

    Rob is absolutely correct. So many are being falsely led and so many are blinded by their deceptions. God's word is being twisted to fit man's needs. Unfortunately today so many churches are not the saving stations for the lost. Many pastors have surpassed their duties and have built up palaces for themselves. So many are preaching prosperity but not the spiritual things of God. God's word takes the backseat to lets seek fame and fortune to lose our souls. Lets just say the sinners prayer which is no where in the Bible and we are saved. Yet we walk out the same way we came in. Lets just tell evryone to come to church but yet we are still saying its okay to do the same things we have not stopped doing. Why because we have not done as Acts 2:37-39 says. We have not repented of our sine, we have not been washed-baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Ghost-speaking another tongue. But lets just keep telling everyone this is wrong and thats for the old days. Our Mega-churches are growing but the true churches of the living God is laughed at as being cults, etc. I truly pray In Jesus name that He would send a mightly revival with the true revelation of who He really is!!!

    May 27, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Drew

      Amen. The church is not doing what its suppose todo. WHich is teach the ppl bout god love and mercy and his teaching. Its about numbers and money. Im ready to see God shake this nation with power of the holy spirit. Let pray for these churches that God my enter back in.

      May 27, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Davey

      We have too many flocks feeding the shepherds. Feeding them with money and fame. The shepherd is a servant whose job is to feed the flock- not the other way around. But so many of these tv personalities and mega church builders have convinced people that this is the way it should be. God feeds the shepherd. Its a total shame what is happening in our churches today. The modern day , charismatic , prosperity movement, has wrecked Christianity here in the United States.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  20. Drew

    Man i know as being a man of God that God will fight my battles. If i was him and was not guilty i would had let God take care of it. Some ppl just take God out. This makes the world laught and make a joke of the God we serve. Open our eyes Lord.

    May 27, 2011 at 8:50 am |
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