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. Ashen

    Yes. I've listened to them in the past. I don't say anything that I don't "know" about, that would be foolish. I know their "message" is always about MONEY and PROSPERITY. They are false prophets making "profits" with their lies. Every one of them have said in the past that "Poverty is a sin." And "Sickness is a sin." What idiot would say such things? If it rubs your (or anyone else's) fur the wrong way – turn the cat around, Bubba! There aren't any different strokes for different folks in the area of spiritual leaders taking advantage of their congregation! Yes, I do know about their message and it stinks!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  2. nj

    bishop eddie long-stroke is guilty as hell...what was all that crap about fighting it to the bitter end??....but im sure that his church will be packed to capacity come sunday with his gullible sheep....enjoy the money guys...if i were you id have taken the guy all the way through court...he needs to be exposed!!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Guilty as Sin

    I truly believe any innocent person with pockets as deep as the "Good Ole Rev." would have fought to the death.....unless he's GUILTY!! What is amazing is how some of his followers fail to see the writing on the wall. At this point they're no longer following the Bible but following man. Please remember Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

    May 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  4. Nare

    LOL...Predictable. Well, he has to live with himself.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • EZG427

      His "crime" was doing kids, not other guys. Jesus was gay, so what? 30 something year-old, a "really nice guy" by all accounts, never married, no kids, running around the desert with 12 other dudes...helllooooooo? figure it out people and get over it. Protect kids, leave f*gs alone. thank you. There are 2 types of guys: those that have done other guys and those that thought about it but were afraid (to get caught). Very few exceptions. If your hub tells you otherwise there's a 90% chance he's a liar AND bi. Men are pigs never forget it.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  5. ms.Z

    I dont thnk he's guilty he's just lier. He shouldve told the church he was gay. The young men knew what they were doing it was a setup. They needed more money. Now what they gona do with it. Open a gay clubLOL

    May 26, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  6. JC

    If he did do it, and got away with it, he will be more emboldened. You see he has found that he 's not accountable to anyone, I pray for his next victims. That's the problem with all of those that say, I stand by my pastor, if your pastor is sick, now you'll never know, what if your child is his next victim?
    I pray that he's innocent, that's something only he and God knows now.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • LOL @ You

      YOU'RE RIGHT.....He will do it again – the bad thing is – They will Still follow him... SMH

      May 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  7. arbos6

    If ANY of his members can read this. I think if you stiill go to his church- YOU ARE A DUMB FOOL!!!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Guilty as Sin

      I agree 100%...but they'll stand by their man.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • jim

      just going to any church proves there fools

      May 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm |

    I am not here to pass judgement on Bishop Long but what I can't understand is that he stated early that he will fight until the end. But I guess the end has came because he decided to pay them. I thought we as Christians fight for what is right no matter what. How hard is it to say "I didn't do it". Why is it so hard to yell the "I didn't do it". We are suppose to speak truth and live according to God words.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  9. O

    Gee– that's bad, and that's sad. How does one recover from this. I hope he's man enough to come out with the whole truth soon. Then he's become truly humble.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  10. Ashen

    Ol' Eddie Long is really wrong, As "Teddie" Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart, Like a guilty "grouch", He paid like Crouch,(Sr.) He couldn't win, So he lies like Hinn, Was going to fight, Like Paula White, Blabbing what a godly man he is, Sounds like Jesse Duplantis, Rich and pompous but says "Amen", Like another Kenny Copeland, In the pulpit against all sinning, Behind closed doors really grinning, These rich fools lie to the masses, It's time to drop them on their asses.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      Very clever, I must admit... that was hilarious... How do you know all these preachers? LOL

      May 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      Oh wait, you know them because you have watched them, right? That's how you know so much about them, right?

      May 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  11. Long Supporter

    I guess we don't have any people who is actually a Christian on this board. I thought judgement was only for God to pass. I see so many people on here passing judgement as if they were in the room when these alleged acts were taking place. People act as if they know the man personally. I do and I know he didn't do these dastardly acts. He is one of the most moral people I know. I have seen the way he interacts with people of all ages and there was nothing nefarious going on. Say what you will about me or Bishop Long but I al stand by him because I know him.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • g-money70

      You are absolutely right that judgement is passed by God but you have to understand that by Bishop Long settling with his accusers appears to make him VERY GUILTY! I know that if I were truly falsely accused of doing something like this I would fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence, no mater the cost. I've worked in the litigation field before and you do not settle unless there is some fault. Where this is smoke.........

      May 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I thought he was traveling alone with the boys during most of the incidents. So you were there every moment that he was with these kids or are you lying? Just wondering.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Dum phuk

      I hope God strikes down and kills all that hide behind the cloth of religion and perform heinous acts. I hope that happens before they are dead and standing with Peter at the gate. Pluheeeezee!

      May 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • LOL @ You

      He is not the victim…. You are a fool…. And YEAH I’m judging…

      May 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • G-reg

      You settle if you are guilty. Period. If he was innocent he would fight till the end as he said at his news conference when this started. What happened to that fight?

      May 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Judgement is for God

      It seem that you are confused with your thoughts, I agree with you passing judgement. That is up to God. You tell people that they wasn't in the room. Were you in the room? I don't know the man like you, but there were signs that could proven his innocent or guilt. We don't know what happens behind close doors. Unless I can personally prove his innocent or guilt, I can't 100% give my support. I would love to see my pastor fight to the end, not give gold diggers money. If that was the case. My mom told me long time ago : "you can fool some people some of the time but not all the time" I just wanted to see him fight to the end like he said from the beginning..Lets agree to disagree..lol

      May 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • kikki

      I believe the word says touch not my anointed one so I will leave all this up to God I will not help God with his anointed ones,,
      Bishop knows how to contact God and I will continue to pray for him

      May 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  12. pierreName*

    Wow pastor Jennings is the truth that's the church people need to go to.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  13. Stupidity

    Good men like to toss salad, just do it with older guys...less problems!

    May 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  14. BlackDynamiteNYC

    I think a million apiece is enough "Hush Money"
    This is definitely the right way for this "Bishop" to go

    Now he can keep the cash machine running

    May 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Rev. Henry Bates

    “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."
    ..... I don't like stereotype statements even when they have a positive bent I realize this is the "old time religions" ... but "it's time" to let go of Black folks and White folks and Brown folks, etc ... and realize that everybody thinks for themselves.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Rev Master Bates

      I think the bishop was prejudice, prefering on yung ebony koks.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  16. Dell

    How can such a notorious gay bashing hypocrite be a good man???? Just like the Rev. said “Black folks have very short memories” and i will add "selective" memories. Black people are forever forgiving someone for horrible crimes and use the name of Jesus to justify the forgiveness. Guess what? Every one isn't Cristian (believe it or not) R.Kelly all over again. Stop taking the abuse black people, you are looking real silly
    -a smart black person

    May 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  17. ms.Z

    The devil is always trying something. All i have to say its all about money. You took it from the church now they taking it from u. Not only Eddie gay the guys are gay too. Just a set up all about money. SO SAD LOVE OF MONEY!!!! (THE DEVIL)

    May 26, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  18. disgusted

    Another buyoff!!! Should have strung em up like the old days!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  19. tank

    You mean the Eddie Long that proclaimed his innocence??????
    What a l i a r!!!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  20. Name*bishop B

    Bishop Long is a good man. Lets continue to focus on Jesus Christ and empowering the Kingdom Of Heaven!

    May 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • JOE

      go away..........

      May 26, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Dum phuk

      Please send your donation/ lawsuit settlement to the church, or take off the blinders.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • The Dude

      Still Smoking Crack I See....


      May 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Darwin in Vegas

      What the heck? I suppose you have skeletons in your closet or you don't want the gullible sheep to quit contributing to your BS religious coffers as well?

      May 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • tank

      Let's see... "good", no....."man", still no.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Bomber


      May 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Truth Not Lies

      Truth is truth. God is pulling the cover and he's starting with the head of the church. Yes, we should forgive Long. Yes, Long needs deliverance and yes he needs to step down. He is still in denial people.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
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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.