Bishop Eddie Long has not yet been laid to rest, but the deceased Atlanta megachurch pastor could soon see his reputation tarnished as men claiming they had been molested by Long are planning to come forward.
Long died last weekend at the age of 63 following a battle with what church officials described as an aggressive form of cancer. Long served as the senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist, a 10,000-seat church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia.
As the New York Times pointed out, Long helped grow the congregation from 300 members when he took over in 1987 to more than 25,000 today. The church also operates television and international ministries including satellite churches in Miami, Denver, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Long gained a reputation for his flamboyant lifestyle, preaching the controversial “prosperity gospel” that claimed those with faith in Jesus Christ would be rewarded with material wealth. As the New York Times noted, Long “flew around the world on a private jet, drove a $350,000 Bentley and lived in a $1.4 million house.”
Megachurch Bishop Eddie Long Dies After Secret Battle With Cancer https://t.co/ympFYnlMol
— ((Terrace Crawford)) (@terracecrawford) January 16, 2017
However, Bishop Eddie Long was also rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct. Four young men sued Long for sexual misconduct, claiming that he persuaded them to have sexual relations in exchange for trips and material gifts. The cases were ultimately settled out of court, with Long admitting no guilt.
Those stories may soon come out, Vibe reported. The four young men are reportedly working on a book that details their lives after the alleged abuse.
For now, the men are remaining silent.
“We’ve been hearing from people from all walks of life — the media, celebrities, gospel singers — wanting to hear what we think,” said Spencer LeGrande, who along with fellow accuser Jamal Parris has not said anything directly about the abuse claims.
— TMZ (@TMZ) January 17, 2017
LeGrande, Parris, and the other two accusers — Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg — released a statement laying out their decision to stay quiet.
“As much as we’d like to make a statement about the passing of Bishop Eddie Long, we’ve all decided to remain silent, for now,” they said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As Vibe noted, the book that could detail claims of abuse against Bishop Eddie Long is still in the development phases.
“They also mentioned that further details of their lives after they broke all ties with Long will be brought to light in their new book, Foursaken. LeGrande said they are still shopping for publishers. Since the allegations surfaced, Long consistently denied the reports. LeGrande was 15 when he first met Long at one of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s in Charlotte, NC. LeGrande, who did not have a father figure present in his life, eventually found comfort in Long.”
Some of Bishop Eddie Long’s sexual abuse accusers have made public statements hinting at the incidents. In an open letter posted to his Facebook page (via Straight From The A), Parris wrote about how the abuse led to his thoughts of suicide.
“Do you remember the time that you used to be able to look at yourself, know and like the person you saw looking back. I cant say that i do. I can honestly say that life has been hard, i have wanted to quit many many times and tried to quit by terminating my membership here on earth.”
Similarly, Eddie Long also spoke openly about contemplating suicide after the allegations of sexual abuse became public.
“I had a moment…I had a moment…I wanted to kill myself and was ready,” he said in a sermon last year. “My family loved me,” he said. “My church loved me…Regardless of what anybody said, love lifted me and carried me. And you didn’t judge me.”
If the sexual abuse accusers against Bishop Eddie Long do come forward, it’s not clear when it could happen. There is no word on when the tell-all book could be released or what details it may — or may not — entail.
[Featured Image by John Amis-Pool/Getty Images]