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
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
I'd like Long to get everything he deserves, punishment wise. He's slime. Religion is comforting AND crippling. Religion is a drug for the cowardly and lazy.
RELIGION? Yes! Religion is dead!
This perverted behavior is typical within the black culture, even those who claim to be religious. That is why I never get surprised from such news about them.
Hmm, so your opinion on MTVs Jersey Shore, Sapranos, .... Huge ex-governors from California who father two kids at the same time with two different women?
Some cultures are obsessed w/ bling. the church appeared to be more of a yuppie see and be seen, dress fab, drive expensive cares social climbing organization. Didnt look like a lot of humble going on.
Let's be serious... what were they going to prove in court? What was the evidence going to be? Sheets from a bed 4 years ago? I mean really. The only bible verses you ill sayers have is about false prophets and blah blah blah. Read the bible in its fullness. Everybody thinks that pastors and churches should not have money, they should all be broke and struggling. Definitely don't remember that being in the bible. Since you want to do your God a favor a favor and talk about pastors and so forth... don't go to them for your national day of prayer, don't go to church when you broke and need an uplifting. So when you irrelevant people who are making noise on a blog are done and have to go back to your regularly scheduled life already in progress.... maybe you should go back to reading the bible and taking it out of context. I'm sure you are very much perfect and living life as goldenly as possible and casting stones as well as judgement just like Jesus asked of you 🙂 AMEN!! ALL YOU NEEDED WAS ANOTHER EXCUSE TO BE A SKEPTIC OF GOD.... As you were.
This man is not a pastor. He is a fraud and a child molester. Period.
His wife would have known in 3 days he was gay if she would have sent his underwear to CheatersRx.com
All those people in that church need their azz kick; they and everyone us knew what was going on(in a blck church,please)and Im black. those church member spitting out verses from the Bible to cover up what hes did. I have not heard one member of that church reach out to those young mens. eddie long dong preaches about wealth and prosperity,but you can not get to heaven without a saved soul and you sure cant take it with you. why do they want us to forgive him and not pray for those young men for all they been through. I have one question for those member: what if it was your son,youll sing adifferent tune.
Seriously Tony Noise...you couldn't have taken even a moment to use spell check? Really? If you're resolute on posting misspelled words and using horrible grammar, please do not claim to be black. This embarrasses the hell out of us. Do yourself a favor and use spell check next time. Thank you.
Hi Tony, French Canadian guy here. I hear you, I understand you and I certainly agree with you. Your statement is from the heart and sympathetic to the victims, in that regard you have communicated what many feel, racial affiliations...and literary critics aside. Communication is much more than pedantic understanding of grammar and kindness and understanding are essential to productive exchange of ideas. That said...I wonder what happened to them rocks he was gonna throw? Adieu
I dont know whats worse the fact that a white man could be accused of the same thing this man is accused of and we as blacks would be screaming bloody murder or the fact that he marched against gay marriages,and took personal shots at other pastor and then he gets exposed 4 what he really is and that ironically is everything he preached and marched against sad
If your spiritual and a believer of the bible, it says to beware of false prophets. He is a man, but like most big time preachers, he forgot about the love for God and the people and fed off his own pleasures and desires. I believe he did do something to those boys cause how much money he put out... proves it. These average, sick, and greedy men are using God to get power.
Another example of Christendom thinking it can pay their way out of Divine judgment that is sure to come.
whether you believe in God or Not this was a travesty to justice and this man will pay for his sins one way or the other.
Eddie long is a piece of work. I read a comment that said being a pastor doesnt make him perfect...be that as it may, this guy molested 4 underage boys and now instead of being a man and admitting it, he pays them to be quiet and never mention it again. How do you conduct a walk against gay marriages when youre sleeping with guys. He has followers that belive in him and trust in him to be the Man of God he pretended to be. If it wasnt true, he SHOULD have just went to trial, if not for himself then for his followers... I think Eddie Long is a coward and he has purchased his first class ticket to hell. The bible says, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone and although we all are sinners, using the power of God to manipulate is wrong. In every aspect. Eddie Long as a man should be ashamed of himself. The seeds you sow are what youll reap and no words that I or anyone else may effect him like God will.......Smh..... and to his congregation, I really pray for them as well. I am so disgusted and I feel so sorry for those kids. 15 Million is alot to be offered and not accept. and Eddie Long knowing that, he again manipulated them in that way...... The world is coming to an end.. When a preacher can blatantly sleep with children in the congregation and still have followers and supporters....
gosh you are absolutely right.... I blame the parents i dont understand where they at in all this but then again if the boys are 18+ the parents have no say so in the agreement ... smh
I knew that hypocritical f@g would settle out of court when it all began. Like what was said above, why settle if ones no guilty? I recall him, or it, saying something like he was David and had many stones yet to throw. Well it seems like he's thrown stones alright, purple ones at those dudes and stones of GREEN CASH.
How very true you are to your nickname, Jackdaw, a magpie who, according to Wikipedia, struts about briskly on the ground and who's cackle is metallic and squeeky. John Gay in his Beggar's Opera notes that "A covetous fellow, like a jackdaw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of hiding it" Ancient Greek authors tell how a jackdaw, being a social creature, may be caught with a dish of oil which it falls into while looking at its own reflection. Your cackling comments betray you've been looking at your own image of God and Christianity. Think outside the box, throw away your preconceptions, and find the real thing.
Will his wife follow jesse jacksons wife example and stay with him? at least there won't be any out of wedlock babies
Cars, jewlery, clothes, trips? I woulda let him give me a rub an tug!
Hey Jackdaw, I agree people need to take on there own responsibility for their actions. But why do you make that false statement there is no God because of people's actions. Man look around at this world and creation and the evidence on how everything began. I challenge you to get the video God of Wonders and say there is no God. His proof is Jesus Christ and he is the only reason we can be free from all our hypocrisy. Everyone is a hypocrite, so who are you to judge. What is sad people judge the Christian faith by manipulating God for their own gain. Find out who Jesus is and you will know the truth. Without that security there is no hope. One day you will meet him. What will you do. Hope he saves you before that. God Bless You!
Are you paying attention? Guess not-please insert head back in sand, please.
Saved by Grace, I imagine you typing with sad puppy dog eyes. If God’s proof is Jesus Christ, mine is Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Steven Hawking, Sir Howard Dalton and my best friend, logic. You cite the world around us as evidence of the divine. I see beauty, grandeur and complexity, but nothing that requires a deity. I see nothing that cannot be explained by science. You hide behind religion because it is an easy answer. Reality is far more awe inspiring than anything ancient people have invented. Please join us in the 21st century. Otherwise, put your ignorant brain back in a sandbox, just as David suggests.
We must understand that pastors are not mystical beings that are exempt from human frailties. They are human period...capable of performing all kinds of sinful acts. Being a pastor and knowing many others, I know this to be true, that we are trying to get to heaven like everyone else. The pastor, however, must constantly keep themselves in check at all times because the forces of evil want you to fall. Likewise we must be beyond reproach because we must lead the people of God with integrity. This is sometimes hard to do, therefore an internal struggle is ever present. Alas many often fail this challenge. Also we as pastors should not put ourselves on pedestals to be worshiped. Once you become a perfect being...a demigod, you are doomed to fail. We can forgive Bishop Long but he must be held accountable. God used imperfect people, yes, but when they sinned, there were consequences. Who is holding Bishop Long accountable and what are his consequences?
Yes we can forgive. But people that stand in our pulpits should be held to a higher standard. And let's be real the man is a child molestor! What message does that send to Non-Believers? What message does that send to survivors of child abuse? HE has no place behind the pulpit. He belong in a jail cell doing time.
You said it perfectly, no other comments needed.
I am an agnostic. People like this drive me towards being an atheist. This man represents "God's word". If he doesn't believe enough to follow the word, how can anyone expect me to believe?
Man is not perfect, which is why Christ had to die on the cross for our sins. God will use this for His good and glory and whatever was done in secret will be brought to light. If Long is guilty, he will pay eventually, one way or another, in God's timing, not ours. And if he is guilty, he needs to repent and step down from the pulpit and be ministered to. As a leader in the church he is called to a higher standard and will be judged at a higher standard but we all fall down. That is where our true faith and true Godly walk gets tested. What Long does from here is important.
@Harold – do not let a man's actions turn you away from God. Find out who God is and what He did, not man's version of who God is. Religion is a huge turn off. God doesn't want religion, He wants a relationship with you.
How Michael-Jackson-esque of him.
WHY DID HE SETTLE IF HE WAS NOT GUILTY. IF I WAS ACCUSED OF SOMETHING THAT TERRIBLE AND MY REPUTATION, CAREER, MARRIAGE WAS ON THE LINE, I WILL NEVER SETTLE EVEN TILL GOD DECIDED IT WAS MY LAST DAY HERE ON EARTH. LOT OF PEOPLE RESPECTED THIS MAN, INVITED HIM INTO THEIR LIVES AS A SPIRTUAL ADVISOR, CONFIDANT AND IT SUCKS TO SEE OR HEAR THIS. WHAT IS THE WORLD REALLY COMING TO? GOD WILL BE THE ULTIMATE JUDGE!
There is no God. People must take responsibility for their own actions. Drop the religious security blanket and put on the big boy pants.
There is no God. People must take responsibility for their own actions. It is time to drop your religious security blanket and put on the big boy pants.
Anyone who returns to this creep's church is ridiculous. Besides the perverted acts and how they will forever impact the four victims, but the hypocrisy is even more inexcusable. To speak against gays and speak of himself as a gladiator is ludicrous. I hope he burns in hell.
Hypocrisy in church?! Never!