Wife of televangelist Bishop Eddie Long files for divorce

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Vanessa Long, the wife of megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long, announced Friday she has filed for divorce.

She has issued the following statement:

After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long. Accordingly, I authorized my attorneys to file for divorce on December 1, 2011.

It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly. I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter.

I also ask that the public pray for my entire family during this difficult period of transition.

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Thank you, and may God continue to bless and keep each of you.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes

Last fall, four young men accused Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, of coercing them into having sex.

Their lawsuits were settled in May, then dismissed. […]

The accusations made against Long by Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson alleged that the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relations.

Long denied the men’s allegations through a spokesman shortly after they became public in September and told his congregation he planned to “vigorously” fight them.

MSNBC says

Long gained a reputation as a spiritual leader after turning his 150-member congregation into a following of 25,000 people and a televangelist empire, partly based on the idea that God would give wealth to the faithful.

He has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage.

The allegations by the men were not investigated criminally because Georgia’s age of consent is 16. The young men were 17 and 18 when the alleged sexual contact occurred.

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This post was last updated: Friday, December 2, 2011 at 6:54 PM, Central European Time (CET)