December 7th, 2010
04:05 PM ET

Pastor, accused of sexual coercion, agrees to mediation

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/11/22/georgia.pastor.lawsuits/story.eddie.long.pool.jpg caption="In the past, Bishop Eddie Long has denied allegations that he sexually coerced four young men at his church, but recently agreed to undergo mediation with them." width=300 height=169]Editor's Note: Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta pastor accused of multiple counts of sexual coercion has agreed with his accusers to avoid a trial and instead undergo mediation. Read background on the accusations and Bishop Long's pulpit defense below. Watch AC360° tonight at 10p ET to hear what mediation means for Bishop Long's proclaimed innocence and for his accusers.

Ashley Hayes

November 2 – In responses to four suits accusing him of coercing young men into sexual relationships, prominent Georgia pastor Eddie Long denies the claims and asks that the suits be dismissed.

"The plaintiff's claims of sexual misconduct are not true," each of the four responses filed by Long's attorneys says. The responses, each about 30 pages, offer a point-by-point response to each of the allegations and claims in the lawsuits. The documents were posted on the website of CNN affiliate WSB.

Four members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church - Anthony Flagg, 21; Maurice Robinson, 20; Jamal Parris, 23; and Spencer LeGrande, 22 - filed suit against Long and the 25,000-member megachurch in September, claiming he used his position as their spiritual counselor to pressure them into sexual relationships.

The suits allege that the relationships, which began when the men were in their teens, lasted over many months. According to the lawsuits, Long traveled with the young men to locations in the United States and abroad, sharing a room and engaging in sexual contact with them, including massaging, masturbation or oral sex. The suits also claim Long provided the youths with gifts including cars and money.

Long, one of his attorneys and a church spokesman have already publicly denied the allegations. In the responses filed Monday in DeKalb County, Georgia, Long's attorneys maintain the pastor was attempting to be a father figure to the youths, providing them with financial assistance and encouragement and helping them navigate their troubles.

Long has "been successful at building a ministry at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church that places a special emphasis on outreach to men, reinforcing to men the importance of partnering with a ministry that will grow them spiritually and will help them develop the life skills needed to become successful in the workplace and teach them how to become entrepreneurs and leaders," the court documents said.

"Bishop Long admits that he mentors many young men from challenged backgrounds, who have often been without the benefit of a male role model," according to the documents. "The mentor/mentee relationship between Bishop Long as mentor and the mentee is firmly grounded on expressed promises of honesty and truthfulness."


Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Burrell

    The bishop should settle out of court.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  2. Curchel

    I meant if they all made the allegations up to extort him why would they agree to mediation. I think they did indeed have relations with them

    December 8, 2010 at 5:33 am |
  3. Curchel

    If it's all true and they are just trying to extort him..why would he agree to mediation. I think there is more to this

    December 8, 2010 at 5:32 am |
  4. Denise

    This is a very sick man who has convinced his congregation that he is untouchable so that is why he gets away with this very heinous crime. I am just appalled.

    December 8, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  5. Denise

    My heart go out to those that have been victimized by people such as Eddie Long, who abuse their positions to prey (not pray) on the innocent. I feel that charges should be brought upon him so that he could do some 'mentoring' behind bars. Eddie Long and his congregation are already guilty in the court of public opinion. I don't understand how people in his congregation could support a monster. Of course there may be many more young victims.

    December 8, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  6. Lipscomba

    If you are innocent, why do you agree to mediation? I'm just sayin'

    December 8, 2010 at 2:40 am |
  7. Sharon

    Sure seems like a lot of smoke. Probably means there is a fire here. This wouldn't be the first time that a religious leader was a huge hypocrite. There are too many to count.

    If god created us all in his image than that must include homosexual people also. I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with his possible pedophilia and his grooming these vulnerable young men for his selfish use. This man is on a power trip to manipulate people. He could have easily found willing partners that he didn't have to manipulate.

    December 8, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  8. M Madhara

    As a Christian, I am very disappointed by this story. I think it is something that the whole world need to be aware off because this man received public donations from people. What he is doing is a breach of trust. Ever since the allegations suffaced, I was really hoping that he would clear his name or step down from the pulpit. He has not owned up to his mistakes but he knows deep down what really happened. I just find this to be double standards. Being an African American myself and a mother, I am really upset and terrified by the kind of people who stand to preach the sacred word of God.

    CNN need to make a follow up on this story, we need to know why he is choosing to settle this out of court instead of defending his innocence.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  9. Barb

    I am pleased to see that you have not forgotten about this awful situation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. It needs to stay in the media. Eddie Long must not get away with these terrible acts.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  10. ray richmond,va

    I think that this pastor has just, admitted his guilt by medeation..

    December 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  11. teresa, ohio

    In a case like this, Mr. Long HAS TO KEEP denying all charges.

    How in the world can he explain away SHARING A HOTEL ROOM with any of these young men? How in the world did he explain away giving them CARS??? boggles the mind.

    odd that- the age of the young men is a year apart: did he mentor a different teen each year? ; ) It makes me wonder, is he mentoring a teen now or in the past 4 months?

    December 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  12. John Moore - PA

    It appears to me that too many of these excuses for religious ministers are really cult leaders. They lead a great life by taking money from their followers, that alone should be sufficient warning to investigate their non profit status. Why don't the respectable leaders out their would be more helpful in exposing these individuals who take advantage of many in our society.

    December 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm |