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. What the...

    “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."

    Ah, so Black folks *are* different then... more forgiving, i.e., better. If that isn't a racist statement, I don't know what is?

    May 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Adelina

      @WhatThe, isn't it sarcasm on overlooking guilts? I think Mr. Long must leave his public ministry, at least for a while, if he is not sure of his complete innocence on this matter.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Theophilus

      What's racist about it? He is stating a fact. The black church is quicker to overlook the transgressions of it's leaders and not hold them accountable, far more than other races. Oh, and yes, I am black and I speak from inside of the black church

      May 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • gemini

      Nothing racist about the truth. Blacks are the most forgiving people on the planet considering all we have been through and still going through.

      May 27, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • Jomm

      Oh please, if that is the case, then whites are the most dumbest race to still be Catholic with all the WHITE PRIEST who molest and ADMIT IT.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • redmonde

      I agree with Jomm..That was a very dumb statment to make about one race ... and I'm black as well....

      May 27, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • David

      "still going through" who isn't going through something dimwit......stop being so wimpy and man up.

      May 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • one blk folf

      I know that's racist. Just because we're forgiving, like every other race, does not mean we are dumb! At least I'm not! Lol
      My my question is, "Why would you settle with your accusers if you're innocent?" Jesus did not settle with his.

      May 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  2. William

    Another low class black criminal evades punishment.... Just business as usual in today's degenerate, feminized America.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • MrMalik

      Must I ramble of a list of low class white people who commit crimes and get gets swept under the rug?..... smh

      May 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Adelina

      William, I agree America was totally feminized by liberals and the most stupid, out-of-context chant, "do not judge." Feminized nations don't have noble purpose to live, or seek justice, or win wars, but whines a lot and get depression very easily.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Frogist

      Ahh the not so subtle se-xism of turning the word "feminine" into an insult.
      BTW You got the racism and se-xism in there but I think you left out the hom-ophobia... unless that was covered in the "degenerate" part.
      Fantastic dinner companion you must be.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • myweightinwords


      I'm not sure why you think that America is "feminized" or what you think that word means...but being not the most feminine woman in the world, even I don't think that a little feminization is a bad thing.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  3. Truth Teller

    Now he'll get richer, cause of the publicity. Hes actually no more of a sinner than the other false preachers. Very few of these guys , Very few, perhaps 1 in 450 actually have the stamp of God.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Geegee

      What determines the "stamp of God"? Please tell.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  4. Davey

    Total disgrace.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  5. sand dog

    Lying hypocrite. Word.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Dale in ATL

    Beware of the preacher who protests too much!

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

      …and dress in muscle shirts

      May 28, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  7. ERic12345

    “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.

    If this is slow why can't African American's get over slavery and quit playing the race card believing they are owed something? There is no race that hasn't faced slavery at somepoint in history! All of those involved in slavery are long dead. We all bleed red no matter what race or religion!

    May 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • ERic12345

      ooops.... meant "if this is so" not "slow" lol

      May 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Davey

      You would have to go there. By your comment you just painted a whole race of people with one broad brush. You want blacks to get over slavery but you can't seem to get over the fact that some people still choose to confront racism. I think you should practice what you preach when it comes to getting over something.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Tabu

      Well said Davey.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Adelina

      Eric, yes, men enslaved women everywhere. They abused us and treated us as properties. White Christian missionaries fixed it everywhere.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • ERic12345

      True women are still second class citizens in many countries and ethnic sub cultures. Let's talk about Christian missionaries and the crusades! They forced Christianity on the Musims and Jews and yet we are all upset they are fighting back now! religion race politics they are all tabu! I dont believe in any religion just science. Don't believe in race just red blood! Women are over half the world's population and I LOVE women!!!!!

      May 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Adelina

      Eric, men are beasts without Christianity. Christian missionaries at least educated us that men and women are equal, something we never knew. You should love one woman, not women. You are another pagan oppressor of women.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Rick

      Adelina: Men are beasts without Christianity? I am not a Christian, and I am no beast.

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

      Traditional Christianity subjugates women and makes them property of men. How, exactly, is that equal?

      May 27, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Frogist

      The women of the world salute you, oh great white Christian missionaries, for coming to our rescue! I know I would have been just a slave to my non-white male bretheren if it weren't for LOL!
      I never knew how much racism and se-xism still was ingrained in this country until I started reading this blog.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • ERic12345

      Adelina, me Pagan? No "sweetheart" I'm a darwinist I believe in evolution not "Zeus" "Pegasus" or any of the Native American gods either. Do you even know what a pagan is? You obviously need to google it. If I was to pick a religion to conform to it would be Buddhism because they are not hypocrites like all the half-hearted "Christians". Christians can't even agree on what is Christian. How many different Christian sects exist????? I just believe in being good at heart. I don't have to fear hell to make me wake-up in the morning and be good or look forward to heaven to lay my head down at night. Men beasts? Well, being that we chemically have a higher testosterone level which increases strength and agression so yeah compared to women we are "beasts" as you so elequently put it! lol Oh and you "just got served"!

      May 27, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • one blk folf

      When the Jew forgett then we will too! idot

      May 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. John

    Rev. Tim McDonald: "Black people are the most forgiving people on the planet." Really?? It sure seems like they have never forgiven our white ancestors for what they did a 150 years ago... just saying!

    May 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Terry C.

      Because John like I said to Eric I only have to go ONE generation back. My Father was a victim of NUMEROUS racial incidents growing up in Myrtle Beach S.C. So understand I am not so quick to forgive since NO ONE ever apologized.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Adelina

      Do black people want to go back to Africa now?

      May 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Theophilus

      Can you forget the now that you live in? We (black people) may no longer be slaves, but our opportunities are still limited. If you are not black you cannot understand, that is why you refer to it as a race card and black call it reality.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Frogist

      @John: To try to refute the forgiving nature of individuals with the refusal to ignore an atrocity that still haunts this country is just racist and arrogant. In truth, the Rev's statement was suspect, but it does not warrant that kind of response.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • David

      Do I think if blacks were the race in majority that things would be different? Heck no, humans are well.....human.....folks, nobody is gonna get this right.

      May 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Kay

      I lived in America for many years and still chose to go back to Africa. And I'm loving it. Aint nothing wrong with going back to Africa. Mark my words, Africa is the next big thing ( emerging market). Its time people wake up and smell the coffee.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:02 am |
  9. B-Dog

    Yeah yeah ... fight the accusations... we would "see the truth in the end" ... yeah yeah. Settlement = GUILTY.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Terry C.

      I was hoping someone would say that. So true B-Dog. Remember the crap about how he got stones left to throw. I guess we know now that he got all his rocks off already.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  10. CanoCano

    Long said "God wanted me keep secrets" and therefore I settled.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • WoManTic

      Wow! I read that confession is good for the soul! The only that seems to like secrets is Satan!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Word Wagon

    God is forgiven, but sin must be punish.
    Its easy to payout, but it take a real man to admit his wrong.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  12. Dale

    Money. It's all about money. He's corrupted himself with greed and a lacivious, lavish lifestyle from the money he's pocketed from his sheep. He's got the money, from his fraudulent megachurch to payoff his accusers. He wants to keep making money from his megachurch of fools, rather than a more appropriate job as a car or insurance salesman, so he doesn't have to resort to eating fried chicken again. His accusers are willing to let him off the hook, for a hefty price of course and allow him to abuse others....yes, it's only a matter of time. And the courts won't prosecute because they feel he's paid his punishment (literallly) and can't be bothered. I wouldn't doubt the prosecuters were bought off too. This lying pig needs to be put in a cage, not a church.

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

      Well said Dale, Long is pimping his flock and they're paying his bills

      May 29, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  13. 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 6:37 pm |
    • Jomm

      Ocar, give it a rest. Michael Jackson case was different than this Pastor's case. Like I said, people settle for different reason. You are not famous so you can say what you will or will not do. Even Michael said he should have fight but JOhnnie C told him to settle. I know the TRUTH in the Jackson's case and it is NOTHING like MR. Long.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  14. Adelina

    May God restore Mr. Long, the four young men and all who are affected. The world should be happy this dark matter was brought out into a daylight. A taste of the ultimate victory of just God. Everyone needs repentance, redemption and a new life.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • tldixon

      how is that a taste of victory?that hypocritical perv paid out hush money-get yourself an education

      May 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi -Adelina...

      You Said: "The world should be happy this (dark matter) was brought out into a daylight."

      You know, that's a very interesting 'ambiguity' (dark matter) that you used on many levels.

      Do you have any knowledge of the concept of 'dark matter,'...?



      May 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Dale

      Oh give us a break Adelina! This dark "matter" wasn't brought out into the light at all. It was swept under the carpet with money and you should be screaming for justice, not salvation. Do you sit in the front pew of his church? You're obviously one of the mentally challenged sheep that follow him and want to see it all just go away. He needs to be prosecuted and brought to his knees for what he's done and for what he's hiding with his ill-gotten wealth. He's nothing more than a pig.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • jonathan

      Long never repented of anything... did he. He denied it, said he had 5 rocks and a sling, and that he was going to fight it. Que the foolish applause and stagecraft. Then he waits for the heat to blow over, and settles out of court so that all of the testimony against him is civilly suppressed. A man who was not guilty of this kind of conduct would fight the lies until the day he died. Long did not fight. His stones were lies, distractions, time, money, and settlement.

      That sound about right?

      May 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Adelina

      At least it was discovered what Mr. Long has been potentially doing. We don't know about the moral integrity of the accusers. Dale, I don't follow him, and prosecution of Mr. Long is your nation's judicial matter.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Adelina

      Jonathan, I agree with you. This is why we need to fear God. EVERY darkness will be exposed someday, including yours and mine. Claiming the Christian name on that day is nothing and hypocrites will be punished most severely, Jesus had said.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      Did someone say "Dark Matter" ?

      May 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      LOL...!!! I figured my comment in to -Adelina above would through...'spo-oky action' bring my new friend, -QGF here...! 🙂

      Also, -QGF... I would suggest that you watch for the poster @ Q he is in your league, as a poster as well.

      Hope that things are good for you, and you are keeping -Bucky in line...? LOL !

      Peace brother...

      May 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Adelina

      Peace2all, read the Gospel of John chapter 1 and the rest and all the writings of Apostle John in the New Testament Bible. It tells you what the dark matter is. Get a study Bible.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • one blk folf

      I know this is'nt the same Adelina who asked if blacks want to go back to Africa? Racist on one hand and holy on the other.
      Wow, talk about darkness. I'm done. You all have a great day:)

      May 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  15. EB

    There is no way on God's green earth that I would settle if I wasn't guilty. Just sayin...

    May 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  16. glen124

    Nothing worse than a queen in the closet who has the nerve to preach against it then "settle" with his accusers.... I bet if he fessed up they would have dropped their cases....

    May 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Remember, Long never said he's not guilty of the charges, he said "he will fight them". This should remove any doubt of innocence but he is guilty of purjury.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  18. Can't Stop Laughing In Buckhead

    .......after the stunned silence......
    The sound of the largest laugh since .....
    Oh wait, in the spirit of the "10 Reasons" on these boards, I humbly offer mine.
    (all spoken with a deep drawl)
    1. He's so clumsy he'd trip over a cordless phone.
    2. He's about as handy as a back pocket on a shirt.
    3. That's about as useful as a trap door on a canoe.
    4. He couldn't carry a tune if he had a bucket with a lid on it.
    5. She was so tall she could hunt geese with a rake.
    6. She was so tall if she fell down she would be halfway home.
    7. He was so fat it was easier to go over top of him than around him.
    8. It happened faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.
    9. I had to go around my elbow to get to my thumb.
    10. I met my wife at our family reunion.

    May 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Peace2All



      May 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  19. sweetness

    A DAMN SHAME!!smh

    May 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  20. Zeb

    This whole thing is crazy. The so-called victims are only after more money. Why don't they prosecute this predator? Sick, sick sick!

    May 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Adelina

      Yes, they should. If one lures under-age kids, doesn't the state prosecute the accused? Why not?

      May 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Q

      Adelina, he wasnt procecuted, because Eddie was smart enough to poke these boys after they reached an appropriate age. He would train them then on their 17th birthdays take them on a trip and get to sucking duck. I think this is the most dangerous part. He did all this in premeditation. He is a dangerous man, and don't worry, he will do it again...

      May 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
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