Latest on Bishop Eddie Long Scandal: He Wants to Settle and Avoid Exposure of All His Business
The proof was indeed in the pudding. As soon as Atlanta lawyer B.J. Bernstein prepared subpoenas and asked Bishop Eddie Long’s attorneys for deposition dates in late November in support of clients Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande, the minister’s bluster sputtered. He’s suddenly left off his combative ways, and apparently has decided to settle. From Rolling Out.com last week:
This stunning news counters Bishop Long’s public declaration to his congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., that he would fight the charges of having sexual relations with male members of his congregation. The proposed settlement subjects Long, rightly or wrongly, to speculative charges that he is indeed guilty of having been on the “down low.”
Bishop Long will also open himself up to charges of hypocrisy. For years, he has preached against homosexuality, which he said was immoral according to the Bible. He also led a nationally televised march with church members publicly denouncing homosexuality as a sin and abomination against God.
“You cannot say that you were born this way. I don’t care what scientists say,” he said in a sermon years ago, according to an old video obtained by CNN. “if you are saying that you were born this way, then you are saying that ‘God, you are a liar.’ You can be converted.”
He admitted already through church attorneys that he did take national and overseas trips with the teenage boys and even stayed in the same hotel rooms with them on occasion. However, previously, he categorically denied that he used the name of God and Scripture to lure the young men into sexual activities.
According to CNN, Long is now seeking to settle through mediation — behind closed doors — to avoid a nasty, public trial.
But if Long is indeed innocent and promised to fight the charges, what happened in the last month to encourage him to change his mind? And does he understand what the settlement will mean in the eyes of those inside and outside his church? There has already been a rally on the steps of the Georgia state courthouse against Bishop Long by a South Carolina pastor where his accusers asked him to step down. If this is true about Long, how will the public now view the four young men who filed the suit, not to mention any others who may have chosen to remain anonymous lest they incurred the publc wrath levied against Long’s accusers?
That last would be very interesting, because if he does have an STD, sexual activity outside of marriage would also be proven with the results of the tests.
If Bishop Long settles with these young men without a jury trial, it will still have a devastating effect on his reputation. Of course, it will confirm in some people’s minds that the young men were mercenary, that they had succeeded in shaking the wealthy Long down for dollar bills. However, a settlement would also leave the distinct impression in everyone’s mind that the stories that the young men told were true and factual. They may be kept from saying anything further (publicly) against the bishop, but the residual feeling in the black community would be that Long had been up to no good with impressionable black youth, the very segment of the community that he had aimed for in his ministry.
Thirdly, as far as anything legal is concerned, there has to be first discovery for a jury trial. That is, both sides have to come up with documentation showing what they know that support or deny the charges in the complaint. So that means that both sides have to give up hundreds of documents, receipts, photographs, etc. for the information of everyone involved, even diaries and notes. That alone would be an interesting development for every news site and blog in the country, and every investigative (and gossip) reporter worth his or her salt will be trawling over every fragment offered up.
Fourth, there would also have to be deposing those involved. That is, the four young men and Bishop Eddie Long and those named in the complaint would have to give testimonies or depositions involving certain dates, occasions, and events, and recollect to the best of their abilities what happened at that time. This is another occasion where the press could have a field day in speculating and coming up with a logical framework over what really happened.
And who else was present during these transactions? There were at least two men and a woman present who accompanied Long and each of his accusers on their trips. Who were they? Two are religious themselves. According to Jamal Parris’ complaint, they were:
- Minister Andrew Momon, who was found to have owned several houses where Long allegedly met his lovers, and who has been the church’s athletics director
- Antonio Render, who is director of security for the church
- Elder April McLaughlin, who is chief executive officer for Bishop Long’s Office of the Senior Pastor
They too would have been called to deposition proceedings. Later, they would have had to testify against their wills and possibly against Long in a trial. A mediation would keep these Long employees from becoming potential witnesses, and I am sure that they know a lot about what may have happened including other personal Long secrets that haven’t yet been exposed. Who knows whether these people are still employed by Long, but I am sure they’re keeping their heads down. They too faced potential ruin in explaining their actions, if it was ascertained from the depositions that they assisted the bishop in grooming and later raping these young men.
In short, the very public nature of the upcoming discovery and depositions scared off Bishop Long. He would have to have been put on the hot seat and explain himself, and that is not where he wanted to be. There is no escape from a situation where he is not in control and other people are interrogating him and examining him. By contrast, in mediation, all of this information is in play and yet is not easily given over to the public and the media to pick over and discuss. It means that Long’s privacy, as well as that of the young men, is respected and shielded.
It also means that if the mediation proves successful, Long could seal his accusers’ lips for all time as a condition of their agreements. At the same time, Long might have to admit his guilt or publicly apologize to the young men in the matter. However, don’t look for any admission from Long that he committed any wrong, although more than one of the accusers wanted to see the bishop admit his errors publicly. This may be where the mediation negotiations could run aground.
Unfortunately, this also leaves open the possibility that when Long finally pays off his young accusers, he could go on to molest other young boys and men in the future. Already, many are leaving comments online that they are disgusted and outraged at this possibility. Here is also where the New Birth inner circle and yes people might have to force him out in order to clean house and save the church’s good name. Because hushing it all up makes it far worse. People–whether they are his congregants or not–are wanting him to answer the young men during a open, public trial and to understand for themselves what went wrong, and whether it was all a misunderstanding or much, much worse as they claim. Without this airing, imaginations run wild. Naturally, there may be some incidents where the young men could stumble in their believability. However, remember that Long was always the adult in the room, the man with the power and the authority and the control, and absolute power always corrupts absolutely.
If he thinks he can get away with everything and keep his church, Bishop Long has another thing coming. Publicly or privately, he’s not going to win. Even if mediation succeeds, Long will always be under a cloud of suspicion. Nobody likes secrecy, deal making, corruption and sexual misconduct. That last upset my grandmother so much, it was a contributing factor in her leaving the Baptists for the Spiritual Church of New Orleans, where women could become ministers. On top of it, a second financial scandal is brewing. Long and another megachurch leader have been linked to a mortgage scam in which hundreds of parishioners lost their homes to foreclosure. And it happened within the sanctuary of the church itself.
CBS Atlanta News has found Bishop Eddie Long and another local megachurch leader, Gary Hawkins, are linked to a questionable mortgage venture that is being investigated by the feds.
CBS Atlanta was the first to report on Matrix Capital’s long list of victims. The company promised to lower people’s mortgages for $1,500 upfront. Police say thousands of homeowners paid Matrix money, but according to investigators, most of them ended up in bankruptcy and losing their homes.
So many people trusted Matrix Capital front man Fred Lee because he made promises of lowering people’s mortgages in the sanctity of their local church.
CBS Atlanta first tracked down Fred Lee on the campus of New Birth, Bishop Eddie Long’s church.
“You are not licensed, are you?” reporter Wendy Saltzman asked Lee.
“No not at all. But hold on, stop, stop, stop stop,” he said.
On Wednesday nights, New Birth is where Lee convinced church members to pay him instead of their mortgages. That is where people started the process that would eventually cost many their homes.
So not all foreclosures are the fault of the banksters, but the shysters in the church community as well. Talk about the moneychangers in the temple. All this is not going to go away that easily. The long death of the ministry of Bishop Eddie Long continues.