Third man alleges sexual relationship with famed NC-born Pastor
September 22, 2010 at 11:35 AM EST - Updated June 15 at 6:35 PM
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Famed Bishop Eddie Long will address allegations of sexual coercion in a press conference Thursday morning after a third young man came forward Wednesday with similar allegations.
The prominent pastor is facing serious allegations he had a sexual relationship with two young men when they were in their teens. The lawsuits have sent shockwaves not only through Long's congregations. "I would just like to wait 'til everything comes out and you know I'll be praying for him," said Randy Freeman of Charlotte.
"Who am I to judge, you know?" asked Arevia Nero. "God is good. And I do believe that He has the final say in everything and He will you know show us whether one way or the other whether he did or didn't do it."
In a lawsuit filed in DeKalb County, Georgia on Tuesday, two young men claim Bishop Long seduced them into having a sexual relationship.
Long has a satellite church in Huntersville called New Birth Charlotte. His main church is in the Atlanta area, and has more than 25,000 members.
The two men, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson, who were 19 and 18 at the time, allege Bishop, his church and church employees gave them cash and lavish gifts that ranged from cars to college tuition.
According to the suit, "defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship."
"He's bought a Mustang car, he's given money, he is on the payroll of New Birth Baptist Church," said B.J. Bernstein, the attorney for one of the plaintiffs, Anthony Flagg. "[Long] accompanied the bishop everywhere the bishop went, including sharing a bed in the same hotel room on that trip and many others."
"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.
Most members of Bishop Long's church in Huntersville didn't want to be on camera, but said they don't believe the accusations and want proof.
Tonya Gray, who recently started attending New Birth Charlotte had a similar reaction. "It's very surprising to hear something like that," Gray said. "I feel like he's a very dynamic speaker and preacher and he's really touched a lot of people's lives."
Gray is not yet a member, but said the allegations would not keep her from joining. "I also know that people lie too," she said. "You know, they find somebody that's doing well and there's always going to be, you know. As the little saying goes, there's haters everywhere, so you know. I'm not going to really make a decision until I know."
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages on various counts including negligence.