|Bishop Eddie Long Hit with Third Sex Lawsuit, Ga. Church Has Not Made Statement
By Naimah Jabali-Nash
September 22, 2010
LITHONIA, Ga. (CBS/WGCL) A third lawsuit was filed against Bishop Eddie Long Wednesday accusing the outspoken, anti-gay pastor of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence that involved a sexual relationship with a young member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church member.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of 23-year-old Jamal Parris was similar to that of Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20, who filed lawsuits a day ago accusing Long of abusing his position by coercing them into sexual relationships when they were teenage members of his congregation.
Parris joined the New Birth Church with his mother in 2001 when he was 14-years-old, states the suit. According to the lawsuit, Parris was employed by the church as a Spiritual Son and began spending individual time with the pastor between 2004 and 2005. During this time when the alleged abuse took place, Long would encourage Parris to call him "daddy," states the suit.
The suit reads: "Long engaged in sexual touching during their encounters and then escalated the activity to oral sodomy and other acts of sexual gratification...Long would then discuss the Holy Scripture to justify and support activity."
Parris had no positive father figure in his life and the pastor would apparently use this to his advantage telling the young boy that he would "never let another man hurt him like his father did," according to the lawsuit.
Despite the allegations Long's flock of parishioners spoke out in support of their pastor Wednesday morning, following the initial two claims made by Flagg, and Robinson.
"We don't believe it," says Tonia Sawyer, a member of the church where the pastor Long presides.
Flagg and Robinson filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Court Tuesday accusing the pastor of seducing them with lavish gifts such as cars, money, clothes, international trips, jewelry and access to celebrities when they were 17-and 18-year-old members of the Lithonia, Ga. church, reports CBS affiliate WGCL.
Attorney BJ Bernstein , who is representing the three plaintiffs in the civil lawsuits against Long, claims there could be more victims and says she can prove the allegations.
"Some of these sexual relations not only occurred on these trips, they occurred in that church," said Bernstein.
Long's attorney, Craig Gillen says he "categorically denies the allegations."
Long was appointed pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987 when the church had about 150 members. In less than four years, the congregation grew to more than 8,000 members, many of whom reside in DeKalb County, home to many affluent African-Americans. Athletes and entertainers claim membership at the church, and among its prominent clergy is Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
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