The day after an Atlanta rally calling for his resignation, embattled megachurch bishop Eddie Long formally responded to allegations that he engaged in sexual relationships with four young men.
In the documents filed late yesterday afternoon in Dekalb County State Court, Long admitted that he took the former New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members on trips, but he denied ever seducing them. Long said he occasionally shared a room with members of his congregation, but the claims of sexual misconduct "are not true." Long said he mentored the men and that they, like other members of his church, called him "daddy," "bishop" and "granddaddy," according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande – all now in their early twenties – claim Long seduced them when they were teens (from 16 to 18 years of age) attending his church. They allege in four separate civil lawsuits that Long abused his “spiritual authority” when he took them on overnight trips, lavished them with gifts and then coerced them into engaging in sexual acts.
Long’s latest response came on the heels of a Sunday rally that drew dozens of protesters who demanded that he step down. In his first sermon after the lawsuits were filed in September, Long vowed to his 25,000-member congregation that he would fight the allegations against him.