Popular Atlanta Preacher Faces Triple Sex Lawsuits

Posted September 23, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Features


On Tuesday, Eddie Long, prominent pastor of the esteemed 25,000 member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of Lithonia, Ga., was being accused in a dual lawsuit for coercing them into “sexual favors” while abusing his powers as their “spiritual father.”

The lawsuit mentioned that the two men, who also were at one time employeed by the church and part of Long’s mentorship outreach program [LongFellows Youth Academy], were lavished with road trips, cars, jewelry, private jet transportation and even celebrity meet-and-greets with T.I., Tyler Perry, Chris Tucker and Ludacris.

To top things off, the suits also mentioned they spent the nights in the same room with the pastor during their out-of-town trips. The two young men, who claim these unfortunate activities took place while they were in their mid-teens, state that Long used “Dick Tracy” as his alias when checking into hotels.

CNN originally broke the story to the immediate public and even featured B.J. Bernstein, the successful attorney representing the first two men and now the third one named as plantiffs in the sexual abuse case against Eddie Long.

Leaked out by ABC News via B.J. Bernstein were exclusive photos taken by Long’s cell phone and were originally sent to one of the victims mentioned in the lawsuit. In one of the photos, Long is seen posing in a hotel bathroom wearing  a red muscle shirt.

From CNN.com/link

One of the men, Anthony Flagg, 21, alleges in his suit that Long took him on overnight trips to a half-dozen American cities in recent years.

“Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact,” the suit says.

The other man, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, claims Long took him to Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2008 for his 19th birthday and engaged in oral sex with him, Robinson’s suit alleges.

Now hours into the Wednesday afternoon, a third male has also stepped up to file a civil lawsuit against the popular preacher. In the latest suit brought upon by 23-year old Jamal Parris, filed in DeKalb County, Ga., mentions that Long encouraged him to call his “daddy” and presents Long and the megachurch’s youth academy as defendants.

The allegations are heavy, especially in the third male’s case.

The pastor of the Atlanta megachurch is no stranger to making news. While best known to the evangelical community as being a popular teleevangelist on networks such as TBN and BET, Long is considered by many to be one of the nation’s top African-American preachers. With a number of best-selling gospel projects under his belt, the highly-profiled pastor met his biggest reputation scorcher when the FBI announced that he, along with several other mega-church pastors, were being investigated for under-reporting taxes and hiding some of their expenditures and unreported investments.

His church was also selected to be the homegoing site for Coretta Scott-King in 2006 and was a public display of power and influence when three living ex-presidents (George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter) and George W. Bush were also present for the ceremonies. The church immediately received bad flack from the LGBT community and even from Julian Bond, former NAACP chairman, for selecting New Birth as the chosen location for King’s funeral due to Long’s stance on gays, especially since Coretta King was a champion for civil rights in the gay community.

He has earned a reputation of being a opponent on gay marriage and for preaching messages fueled with homophobia over the years. In 2004, Long created a ex-gay “deliverance” ministry used to rehabilitate homosexuals into an accepting hetereosexual lifestyle. For years, he has been championed by Christian media as being a mentor for young black men and has written such books as Gladiator: The Strength of a Man; addressing the absence of the black male in the homes and re-directing them into a social network best known as “spiritual fatherhood.”

Ted Haggard, the former pastor of Life Church who was removed as pastor after allegations were made concerning drug abuse and sexual misconduct with a male prostitute in 2008, spoke in defense of Long to AOL News and was quoted in saying that he deserves a fair hearing. “Nobody’s guilty until the court says he’s guilty,” Haggard, the former head of a 14,000-member congregation in Colorado, told AOL News during a phone interview.

Supporters of Long and New Birth members believe that the accusations against their pastor are false. This was also echoed by Long’s spokesman Art Franklin, who repeated that the allegations are “categorically incorrect” and holds no merit.

The subject of homosexuality in the church remains a hot-button issue, even taboo, in the black church, but critics believe that the timing of the case against Long will raise the subject’ awareness and will certainly bring about healthy dialogue.

“This might be a time of scandal [for the black church] … but it will also spark a renewed dialogue,” says Shayne Lee, a Tulane University sociologist and author of “Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace.” “The fact is, Eddie Long is one of the most respected black Christians in the country, he’s very popular and very influential, and that’s why this is going to get a lot of people talking about the issue of sexuality [in the black church].”

This Thursday, Long plans to address the media with a press conference and plans to speak with CNN correspondent/journalist Roland Martin on the syndicated radio program Tom Joyner Morning Show.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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