|Bishop Eddie Long | Plaintiff's Father Speaks out
By Craig Schneider
September 24, 2010
Eddie LeGrande admits that he wasn't a big part of his son's life. He also admits that he knew Bishop Eddie Long had taken on the role of father in his stead when the boy, named Spencer, was a teenager.
In fact, he resented it.
"He was doing all these things for him. I couldn't compete," LeGrande said in a phone interview Friday. "He would call him dad in front of me. That would hurt me."
LeGrande separated from his son's mother before Spencer could walk. After that, he saw him only on the occasional Christmas. But he said he started building a relationship when Spencer reached the age of 11. Then it grew to weekend visits.
Just a few years later, LeGrande says, he lost his son again -- this time to Eddie Long.
LeGrande learned Friday, for the first time, that his son alleges Long used his pastoral influence to coerce his son into sex at age 17. He learned that from a reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He had heard Wednesday about the other allegations leveled by young men against Long. And he wondered whether his son's name was mentioned.
Spencer LeGrande filed suit against Long Friday, marking the fourth such action filed this week. He said in the suit that he met Long when he was 15 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., where he and his mother were among the founding families. He said he accompanied Long on several trips abroad and later moved to Atlanta.
"He never told me. He never gave me a clue," said Eddie LeGrande, 55, a furniture store worker in Greensboro, N.C.
But looking back, he said, "There were red flags." The trips, the gifts, the attention, he said.
"I'm very upset about it," he said. "I'm very hurt about it. I'm very hurt for my son."
If the accusations are true, he said, "I think he should be banned from his church. I think he should do jail time, and he should pay the victims for the hurt. He should be used as an example."
His son moved back to North Carolina about a year ago.
The father and son last saw each other in January.
"I held him in my arms on my mother's funeral day," he said.
He said he wondered at the time why his son's stay in Atlanta seem to end so abruptly.
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