Controverisal megachurch pastor Eddie Long says he’s moving ahead with his ministry at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and won’t discuss allegations of sexual misconduct made by four young men who were members of hisÂ congregation, reports the Associated Press.
Last May sexual-misconduct lawsuits filed by four men against Long were settled out of court. Long has consistently denied the accusations made against him.
At the time New Birth issued a statement saying the decision to settle was made “to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
But as CNN reports, earlier this week two of the young men who accused Long of manipulating them into having sex when they were teens have spoken out against the pastor for the first time since they settled with him.
On Wednesday, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, now in their early 20s, gave an exclusive interview to CNN Atlanta affiliate WSB, saying thatÂ they are haunted by their experiences with Long and that they are writing a tell-all book about what they say happened between them and the powerful pastor.
Last September, Parris,Â LeGrande andÂ two other young men filed suit alleging Long “uses monetary funds from the accounts of New Birth and other corporate and non-profit corporate accounts to entice the young men with cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics.” The accusations were particularly controversial because Long, who is married, has preached passionately against homosexuality for years.
In May, following months of mediation, Long and Parris and LeGrande reached an undisclosed settlement agreement. The terms are not public.
However, WSB reported Wednesday that the men claim Long made cash payments to them in exchange for their pledge to never talk about the case again.
But LeGrande and Parris said that they couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes
Parris and LeGrande declined to discuss specifics, per the terms of the agreement.
By speaking out, Parris and LeGrande risk losing undisclosed monetary rewards outlined in the settlement, which is sealed.
“The truth should’ve set [us] free,” said Parris. “I thought I could cover the pain up. I thought I could move, start over and everything would go away. I was terribly wrong. I’m living a lifestyle meant to crash.”
The money is irrelevant, LeGrande said.
“I’m going to tell the world — money does not buy happiness,” said LeGrande. “When you sleep at night, the problems are still there. The money stuff, who cares about the number.”
“I feel like burning [the money],” he said.