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. Charles

    If you read the Bible, which the everything Christian is based upon, what we may expect from a "man of God". We throw that around so carelessly. The Bible says "A bishop must be blameless".

    June 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Joyce

      Yes, it does. The bible also says Matthew 7 "Matthew 7
      Do Not Judge
      1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Jesus also says Matthew 6 "14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

      June 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  2. morris2196

    I am skeptical of slip-and-fall lawyers and their lawsuits. But I believe that Long has an obligation to his church to clear himself by going to trial and afterward have the testimony and verdict made public.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  3. Virgil Speed

    The man is a predator plain and simple. We can sugar coat it all we want, there is no earthy excuse in the world for this kind of behavior from any human being. I pray that he will seek some counseling. Let me add this up now.....it was one, then two, then three, and finally four young men. This tells me he knew exactly what he was doing.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  4. carm

    those without sin cast the first stone, who are any of you to judge and condemn anyone, The One and Only true God, that is alive today having died for all sin, arose and still forgives, you dont need to know how God existed you only believe, why does everything that people dont understand need to be explained, God will take care of Eddie Long and our job as a true follower and Christian of Jesus Christ, The Christ, not a religion but a relationship, will continue to pray for all those involved.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Joyce


      June 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  5. Clarence Larry


    June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Joyce

      Hi Clarence, Christians do not have to buy into the "if you're Black" drama. Christians do not have to live by worldly standards, rather to the standards of the Kingdom. We are in the world but not "OF" the world. Galatians 3 "26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."

      June 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  6. Clarence Larry


    June 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • carm

      We will never know the whole truth. They only know and God, but it is our job to continue to pray. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus is the only One who lived without sin. I know he is a man of God and he is a human, so folks act like because he is a preacher he cannot sin, not saying he is guilty or not, but we really do not know.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  7. TheTRUTH

    Well,well,well when keeping it real goes wrong!!! he told his followers, he doesn't like the gay life style,NO! HE LOVES IT!!! and they take advise from THIS JOKER!!! cover blown...

    June 1, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  8. rho

    It does make him look guilty settling on something like this. Why wouldn't he fight it unless he doesnt want something to come out. Just seems odd to me.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  9. shelly

    Innocent men don't settle when it comes to something like this. Guilty pig!!!!

    May 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  10. jaye

    I don't care what the outcome is....If I had any doubts before he has confirmed it. The Man did it. If he says I"m lying then he should disclose the terms of the settlement.How can a "Man of god" hide behind legal terms? I'm so mad right now..
    How can his church members even continue to listen to him.
    Dude needs to join the congregation till he gets his acts together.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • LaShawnda

      right on!

      June 8, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Joyce

      Matthew 6 Jesus said

      "14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Joyce

      Eph 4:32 NIV

      "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.'

      June 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  11. Yu

    Ruby, Steve didn't once say nothing about GOD...In fact it seems as if he made a point not to. His observation is very wise actually, and (to some extent) even you agree. Why would ANYBODY follow a man knowing how imperfect and dishonorable he may be during his lifetime? He cant even make a tree grow! You're right! And hence religion (in the fundamental sense) is in fact one of the biggest flaws to the existence of man--> That is: trying to classify GOD by materials passed down by the imperfect man, and even more allowing yourself to be "wooed" by one who is pathetic enough to outwardly disown the very behavior that was confirmed by several different men. That to me, smells FOUL and nothing other than what I expect from the imperfect Man....Right on, Steve: In short, Religion (or man's view of what GOD should be, or his interpretations of what GOD says) is PURE BOLOGNA and a coping mechanism to relieve us from the fear of not knowing the reason of our existence.

    May 31, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  12. The Jackdaw

    Touch a boy touch a boy touch a boy yay god give me money.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  13. Teresa Thomas

    Hey, I really feel sad about this issue, because we all need in this day and time the real men of God to stand up and take there place. how can you trust a man of God who settle for this, and pay your way out of sin. it make me mad, yes we have all sined and fall short, but the word tells you how to be free and stay free, so please save all the fall short and things in 2nd Peter 1:3-11 and 10 stands out that if you do these things you will never fall. God always tells us how to be free from sin and to stay free and yes i will pray for him always, but only the Lord knows what has happen. i am just sick of people making us saved ones look so bad to those we wish to win to God.

    May 31, 2011 at 4:21 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      May 31, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Joyce

      Eph 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Matthew 6 "14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." We have ALL MADE MISTAKES. I do not know the details of the settlement. I do not necessarily agree with Long's decision to settle, but I will say I still love him and pray for him and his church. More importantly God LOVES him and the truth is that's all the really matters.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  14. Darlene

    we all have sinned that for sure and we don't really know the truth, but if he has done these things he is being acused of the first thing he needs to do is ask the lord to forgive him. God requrie a men to step down from preaching when he falls in to which sins. No one on earth can judge the man ,but we need to follow gods word not the man and pray for our preachers that be true men of god and resist the temptions what ever it might be. Remember we can't remove the plank from someone else eye before we can remove plank your our eye.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Heaven sent us eyes that are vulnerable to planks and all sorts of other nasty sharp things. And disease too. Oops, I guess that means god must be an azzhole.


      May 31, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Joyce

      Well said.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  15. JMetro

    ok Ruby i see you

    May 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  16. ruby king haynes

    I can't say whether the man is guilty or not. I will say where there is smoke there is or has been a fire. I will say that as the Bible says "he that is without fault let him cast the first stone. It is so easy for us ti find fault with someone else, all we have to do is look in the mirror and we'll see an imperfect human being. We can see the small grain of sand in our brother's eye and can not see the 2*4 in our own eye. I am by no means saying that Pastor Long is innocent, but I am saying that he is not perfect and he's just a mere man full of faults like all of us and that he belong to God, he is God's servant and God will judge him accordingly.
    One of the greatest men in the Bible was an adulteress and a murderer and that man was David the KIng, chosen by God and when he repented God forgave him and called him "a man after God's own heart. The problem with us as humans we tend to put men on a pedestal and when we find out that they're humans and not gods we get angry and full of criticism and ready to crucify them. In reality, they need our prayer more than than ever, and where is our mercy and grace for each other? We forget all of the good the person has done and only remember the bad. None of us are perfect.
    In closing, I'd just like to say that I heard a minister say that " the same grace we need, is the same grace we need to allow." Powerful words isn't it? When we sin or make a mistake we want everyone to understand and forgive us, but when thible says "we shall obtain mercy." We need to re-evaluate or own christian morals and values.

    May 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • frank

      "One of the greatest men in the Bible was an adulteress and a murderer and that man was David the KIng, chosen by God and when he repented God forgave him and called him "a man after God's own heart."

      He was a man after God's own heart BEFORE he repented, being an adulterer and a murderer, since the God of the Bible is the most vicious wicked murderer imaginable, and I don't recall him being married to Mary when he went behind Joseph's back and knocked her up...but, at least he repented for the evil he'd done, something God would never do.

      May 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Right said there Frank. God must be quite an azzhole.


      May 31, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • jaye

      Not when you decide to lead .You should be exceptional. But this is not a one time thing, it has been ongoing so this individual has found a way to manipulate the system. He should become a lay member of the church till he gets his acts together

      May 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • carm

      Good post.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Joyce

      Well said Ruby! Praise God for Chrisitans who receive the true gospel, not religious traditions and doctrines, but the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! :0)

      June 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  17. susanne


    May 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  18. dnnisjos

    what a farce he is guilty, he setle out of court, hipocrite, all this pastors, some politicians, are hipocrites, the pastors preach, agains gays and they are the one praticined, eddie long and 4 young men, how many politicians got cought, that we know, of, this is going on today, eddie long got cought, how many are out there, that we dont know.

    May 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  19. Saundra

    Settling implies that there is truth to the charges and keeps a cloud over the man (and the ministry) from now on. To say you settles because it was best for all parties does not ring true either. You settled because it's best for you-also implies guilt. SAD

    May 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  20. steven wilkins

    i've always said that if you're a student of history u would have 2 b a damned fool to follow ans religion !

    May 30, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • ruby king haynes

      Hi Steven,
      You are right to follow religion you are stupid, for religion is just something you do on a constant basis. Religiously, you go to work everyday, or you take a shower religiously or you eat religiously, so to follow a man religiously is about the craziest thing another man could ever do. But when it comes down to God, can man make a tree grow? Can he make the sun shine or make it rain? Can he heal a sin sick soul, or body? To all of these questions the answer is no, no man has the authority or the power to do any of those things, man does not have enough sense to put his own clothes on except God give him a right mind. So before you reject God because some man failed, think about who God is and then think about who man is and you'll see there's no comparison what so ever. So be careful what you say little mouth for the Father up above is looking down upon.

      May 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Joyce

      Steve, Psalms 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

      I am a Christian who is a student of history and I praise God that I know Jesus. I praise our Father for the Lord Jesus Christ and His true love.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
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