Allegations of sexual misconduct continue to stack up against the nationally-known pastor of a 25,000-member metro Atlanta megachurch. The day after two men accused New Birth Baptist Church Bishop Eddie Long of using his power to force them into a sexual relationship, a third man has filed a similar lawsuit. Anthony Flagg, 20, and Maurice Robinson, 21, claim the Lithonia pastor placed them and other men on the church’s payroll, bought them cars and other gifts, took them on lavish trips and provided access to celebrities in exchange for sexual acts, according to the suits filed in DeKalb County Superior Court. Long engaged in sexual touching that escalated to oral sodomy and “other acts of sexual gratification,” the initial suits claim. Both men were past the legal age of consent in Georgia — which is 16 — when the alleged incidents happened. Long’s attorney, Craig Gillen, said his client adamantly denies the allegations.
Former church member Jamal Parris, 23, claimed in the third lawsuit filed today that Long made a church summer camp counselor call him “Daddy” and coerced him into sexual acts. Gillen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was “unfortunate that these young men have chosen to take this course of action.” Plaintiff Robinson was arrested and charged in June in connection with a burglary of several items at the church including Long’s iPad, iPhone and jewelry. Attorney B.J Bernstein, who is representing all three plaintiffs, says the break-in was an act of retaliation toward Long. Bernstein has said none of her clients want to comment.
Former members Flagg and Robinson also claim in the suit that they were 17 and 18 years old when Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them. According to the lawsuit filed by Parris, he reportedly worked as a summer camp counselor at New Birth. He alleges that in 2001 within two weeks of joining the church with his mother at the age of 14, Long gave Parris his personal cell phone number.
Amid the allegations gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes has canceled a Friday morning fundraiser that Long was to co-host. Through a spokesman Barnes called the allegations “troubling” and said he would abstain from comment until all the facts of the case were known.
Long nabbed headlines in 2004 when he called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and led a march with Bernice King, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., to support a national constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. His church counsels gay members to become straight. President George W. Bush and three former presidents visited New Birth the for the 2006 funeral of King’s widow Coretta.