The megachurch pastor accused of luring four young men into sexual relationships categorically denied the allegations for the first time in a court filing Monday, saying he was only a mentor to the men who filed civil lawsuits against him.
Bishop Eddie Long has for weeks vowed he would fight the lawsuits in court, and promised in church sermons he would not let the legal troubles prevent him from doing its work. While his attorney has denied the allegations on his behalf, Long had not refuted them publicly until he filed his legal response. He said in the filing that each of the “claims of sexual misconduct are not true.”
The men, who were 17 and 18 at the time, say Long abused his spiritual authority to lure them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash. Their attorney B.J. Bernstein said she doesn’t have much physical evidence backing up the complaints, but that she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he traveled with the young men to New Zealand and elsewhere.
Bernstein declined to comment because she had not yet received the response.
Long, though, said in the four separate documents that he often encouraged his New Birth Missionary Church members to call him “daddy” and that some even called him “grandaddy,” but that the term was a sign of respect.
The bishop also said in the documents that he has long shared rooms with some of his church members, and that his parishioners often hug him. And while he admitted to giving the plaintiffs gifts, he said he often provided many members of his church with financial assistance.
Bishop Long Files Documents Denying Sex Abuse
Long admits he did have a mentor relationship with Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg Spencer LeGrande and Jamal Parris in the documents. He also admits traveling on overnight trips with some of the men, buying them gifts and paying rent for some of their families.
Fleischer said the documents list several cases where he called the young men his spiritual sons, a term the plaintiffs also used in their court filings.
Long’s attorneys are very clear in the documents that their client never had sexual contact with the plaintiffs or any other spiritual sons, according to Fleischer.
Two of the young men say he targeted them after they enrolled in the church’s LongFellows Youth Academy, a program that taught teens about sexual, physical and financial discipline. The other two — one of whom attended a satellite church in Charlotte, N.C. — have made similar claims.
South Carolina minister leads rally demanding Bishop Long step down
A South Carolina minister Sunday demanded that Bishop Eddie Long step down as senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the wake of allegations that he coerced four young men into sexual relationships.
At a rally on the Georgia Capitol steps on Washington Street, Bishop H. “Prophet” Walker from the True Light Pentecost Church in Spartanburg, S.C., said Long “had no right to continue as a leader of the Christian church.”
While Walker conceded he had no authority in dealing with Long, he wanted New Birth members to urge Long to give up his post. “They have to understand that this is their church, not Bishop Long’s,” Walker said.
About 75 people attended the rally, though most appeared to be members of Walker’s church and there were several children.
Reuben Armstrong, a Dallas radio and TV talk show host and author, said Long should step down, at least until the cases are resolved. He also criticized Long for preaching a prosperity message.
“It’s a shame that the church is becoming a corporate entity with the pastor acting as CEO, but the people are the shareholders,” Armstrong said.