September 26, 2010

3 Men accusing Bishop Eddie Long of Sex Abuse

ATLANTA -- Prominent Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein released cell phone pictures Wednesday of megachurch pastor Eddie Long – the same day that a third lawsuit was filed accusing the Atlanta-area bishop of sexual abuse.

Three men have come forward accusing Long of coercing them into a sexual relationship.

Bernstein, who represents the three plaintiffs, said the pictures were sent to young men who attended Longfellows Youth Academy. She did not specify whether the plaintiffs also received the pictures.

In the latest lawsuit, the plaintiff, Jamal Parris, detailed how Long allegedly gave him his personal cell phone number two weeks after the two first met. Parris also alleged that Long encouraged him to call him "daddy." According to the suit, Parris’ father had not been a positive figure in his life.

Parris said he joined New Birth in 2001. He said he later became Long’s personal assistant, and that Long would ask him to remain in his private office after church, where Long engaged in sexual misconduct with Parris, according to the suit. Parris said he eventually left the church and later found out from other young male church members that they too had sexual contact with the bishop, according to the suit.
Since the first two lawsuits went public Tuesday, Bernstein said her office has taken several calls and believes that there are other victims. Bernstein said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men.

The first two plaintiffs, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, claimed that Long used his position as a spiritual counselor and leader to take the young men on trips out of state and performed sexual acts with them. In the lawsuits, the men accuse Long of sexually abusing them, as well as several other young male church members and employees.

3rd Lawsuit Filed Against Bishop Long


The lawsuits also name New Birth Missionary Baptist Church at 6400 Woodrow Road in Lithonia as a defendant.

At a news conference Tuesday, Bernstein told reporters that the alleged abuse occurred when the plaintiffs were 17 and 18 years old. Robinson and Flagg are now 20 and 21 years old.

Bernstein described Long's relationship with the boys as odd.

"It was essentially a marriage ceremony where there were candles, (an) exchange of jewelry and biblical quotes given," said Bernstein.

During the conference, Bernstein also revealed that one of the plaintiffs was arrested in connection with a June 13 burglary at New Birth. Channel 2 first reported details of the break-in, in which DeKalb police said two men wearing dark hooded tops and white gloves broke into Long's office and made off with high-end electronics, including Long’s iPad, and jewelry.

Bernstein said she expects Long’s attorneys to bring up that arrest when addressing the abuse allegations.

“Maurice (Robinson) immediately told what he did when he was confronted about it. He returned the black diamonds, the gold, the things that he had in the bishop’s office,” Bernstein said.

“As bad as it is, if it weren’t for that act, I don’t know if we would have known about this because this young man exploded and realized that when he talked to his friends, he wasn’t the only one,” said Bernstein. “Bishop Long had other spiritual sons who had other relationships with him. It made him angry and confused and combusted in lashing out at the bishop in the only way possible.”

According to the lawsuit, Flagg said Long shared a bedroom on overnight trips and engaged in intimate sexual contact with him. He said Long was also involved in advising and counseling him in areas of his personal life, the lawsuit states.

A spokesman for Long told Channel 2 Action News that Long denies the allegations and later announced that a news conference would take place Thursday to address the matter.

A statement released by Craig Gillen, attorney for Long, said, “Bishop Eddie Long adamantly denies the allegations. It is unfortunate that the two young men have chosen to take this course of action. We are reviewing the complaints and will respond accordingly.”

Channel 2 Action News reporters Tom Jones and Eric Philips visited Long’s church and neighborhood, where many people are expressing a show of support for Long.

One church member told Jones, "I just don't believe it. I know my Bishop."

Philips went to Long's house, but was told he was not there. He spoke with one of Long’s neighbors, who said she “hadn’t seen him [Long] in a while.”
Eddie Long ain't got no business sending this picture to no young men.

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