Bishop Eddie Long, Attorney Issue First Statements on Scandal

By Shelia M. Poole
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 23, 2010

Attorneys Dwight Thomas (left) and Craig Gillen met immediately after a radio interview Thursday morning at Gillen's office in Buckhead. Megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long has canceled a previously announced appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday after a third man filed a lawsuit accusing the prominent minister of using his pastoral influence to coerce him into a sexual relationship.

Bishop Eddie Long, in his first public statement since he was sued by three men who alleged he coerced them into having sexual relationships, said he has been "through storms and my faith has always sustained me."

" I am anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and I will do so," he said in a statement released by his spokesman. " However, my lawyers have counseled patience at this time. But let me be clear; the charges against me and New Birth are false. I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply. "

He asked for patience and said he plans to respond to the charges during services at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday.

Earlier, his attorney, Craig Gillen, took to the air to defend his client against charges he used his pastoral influence to coerce three men into having sexual relations.

Gillen was interviewed by Roland Martin for the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. It was the first public interview by Long's attorneys since three lawsuits were filed against the head of the Atlanta mega-church.

"These false allegations are an attack on Bishop Long personally. They are an attack on New Birth and all of the 25,000 good people who attend that church, and it's an attack on the mentoring program that has helped thousands of young men," Gillen said.

Gillen also read Long's statement on the air.

"Let me be clear. The charges against me and New Birth are false," Long's statement said.

Gillen said Long, a married father of four, was “chomping at the bit” to speak out on the the show, but that he had advised against doing so.

Gillen questioned the character of some of the men who filed the lawsuits. At least one, Maurice Robinson, was arrested in connection with a June break-in at the church. He said lawyers are trying to get a copy of a tape of the burglary.

Gillen said the lawsuits have "ignited a firestorm against this good man." He implied the motives of the lawsuits were money.

Originally, Long himself was scheduled to be interviewed by Roland Martin on the Joyner show. The interview was canceled after a third man filed a lawsuit accusing the prominent minister of using his pastoral influence to coerce him into a sexual relationship. The lawsuits also name New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and the LongFellows Youth Academy.

On Wednesday, a representative of Long's team sent out a statement saying that a press conference would be held during the early part of Thursday.

Gillen also went on the Frank and Wanda Morning Show on V-103. He said there should be some corroborating evidence that supports the allegations before people file lawsuits and “run to every microphone” they possibly can.

On Sunday, Gillen said, Long will address his congregation and would “be speaking from his heart.”


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