By Robert Naddra, Special to the NNPA from The Champion Newspaper –
A week after Bishop Eddie Long denied allegations that he coerced former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sexual relationships, the church admitted that Long took them on trips but could not “confirm or deny” that Long had intimate relationships with his accusers, according to reports.
The Lithonia church, represented by the law firm Drew Eckl Farnham, filed its response Nov. 7 in DeKalb County State Court.
The LongFellows Youth Academy also filed responses last week. LongFellows is the church’s mentoring program for male youth ages 13 to 18 years old. LongFellows is named in three of the four lawsuits against Long.
In Long’s response last week, he admitted providing “opportunities for travel, education and personal growth” to many members of the New Birth congregation. However, he denied having sexual relationships with any of the four men. He also denied using money from New Birth or LongFellows Academy to “entice” the accusers with clothes, jewelry, and electronics.
Each of Long’s responses, filed last week by attorney Craig Gillen, stated in the introduction, “The Plaintiff’s claims of sexual misconduct are not true.”
The church, as well as Long, acknowledged that the pastor would sometimes share a hotel room on trips with members of the congregation.
“The church understands that Bishop Long often shared hotel rooms with members of the congregation while traveling,” New Birth’s response stated according to reports.
Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris, Maurice Robinson and Spencer LeGrande each filed separate lawsuits last September. Each claimed that Long lured them into sexual relationships with money, employment, gifts and lavish trips to New York, Las Vegas, and Africa, among others places.
All four men are represented by Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein. A spokeswoman at The Bernstein Firm said that Bernstein had no comment on the responses by Long or New Birth.
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