Bishop Eddie Long Grants First Media Interview Since The Suits Filed by Those Four Young Men
Of course, he’s not talking specifically about the case. It may be the first time he’s been seen in public beyond New Birth and his recent troubles in months.
And he’s still wearing those phony lace fronts.
The video is here. Sorry, but Vodpod can’t catch it, and I have not been able to find it elsewhere.
What does it mean? Absolutely nothing. You just have another clue about how many people are still willing to support this guy, who just may be the latest in a long list of African American religious charlatans and cheats to come up the pike. Add “Coco Brother” Condrey, a radio personality, to this mix. The reporter observed that Long seemed gratified as well as “humbled” by his reception.
Long would not speak about allegations made by the four young men who used to call him their spiritual father. They claim the bishop used his influence over them to make sexual advances, some during overnight trips. But after the prayer breakfast, Long was clearly focused on the positive.
“That’s a wonderful, wonderful-like family reunion of people coming together. And celebrating there is a great future, there is a great hope and we live in a great country with great people,” said Long.
Long talked about the Trumpet Award recipients and the family of influential people gathered there to honor them.
“It’s a wonderful celebration of a time when our nation needs hope, when people need to see people who rise up and are doing great things and actually making a difference in someone’s life,” said Long.
He means he needs hope. What gets me is, who decided to bird dog Long to this semi-public reception if they knew that he wasn’t going to speak on the record? Just what was the catch? That he would get some “positive” face time? Please.
The fact is that even though Long and his attorneys have moved toward settlement, it doesn’t mean that everything has halted. The cases are still pending in court, and as recently as two weeks ago, it was reported that the lawyers–Craig Gillen and B.J. Bernstein–have been dancing around setting dates for depositions and who presents evidence first. The order in which the plaintiffs and the defendants are deposed may give one or the other a certain advantage.
Lawyers for both sides in the sexual misconduct case against Bishop Eddie Long continue to wrangle over the deposition schedule.
Judge Johnny Panos last month signed an order requiring all parties to agree on a mediator no later than Jan. 31 or the court would appoint one. Mediation of the case would begin during the week of Feb 14, according to the order.
Now at issue is who will give a sworn deposition first. Lawyers for the defendants requested the men, who have accused Long of using his influence, trips and gifts to entice them into sexual relationships, be deposed first. But B.J. Bernstein, who represents the plaintiffs, wants Long and church members to also be deposed early in the process.
“We just want a fair and balanced deposition schedule,” Bernstein said Wednesday “Not just one side.”
Four men — Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande — have sued the prominent Lithonia megachurch pastor and the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in State Court of DeKalb County.
Lawyers for the defendants, who could not be reached for comment, have asked for clarification of Judge Johnny Panos’ order on the depositions, which appears to have Parris deposed first.
Long has denied the allegations. In his responses to the suits, Long admitted occasionally sharing a room with members of his congregation, but in each of the responses, he said, “The plaintiff’s claims of sexual misconduct are not true.”
The order of depositions could provide an advantage.
Thomas C. Arthur, a law professor at Emory University, said during the discovery phase, when both sides take depositions and request and inspect documents, the order in which depositions are taken could help the opposing side know “what the other side’s witnesses are going to say and help plan their cross-examinations.” Sometimes, he added, discovery can also lead to a settlement because one side can gauge the strength of the other’s case.
“It’s strategic back and forth,” Arthur said.
Typically, he said, lawyers cooperate to arrange the order, but sometimes the judge steps in to determine the order.
Can you see why Bernstein wants Craig Gillen to depose Bishop Long and the other defendants and his witnesses first? It’s not that the young men don’t have a case–they do. It’s that the people who really need picking apart are Bishop Long and his bunch, since they were always the adults in the room. If the young men are deposed first, then they are on the public record, and the spotlight is on them, and not on Long.
Bishop Long has always wanted to sidle away like a crab from being on the public record about his personal shenanigans as well as his business dealings. Senator Charles Grassley’s probe of Long and other “prosperity gospel” ministers like Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland came to an end with no legal ramifications for any of the six ministers (and their wives). Grassley’s probe was stymied because Long supplied little or no information to Grassley. And because of the separation of church and state, and the church’s tax exempt status, Grassley could do little else, lest his actions be construed as harassing a religious entity, which is against the law. In other words, Long, with his attorney Craig Gillen, successfully stonewalled. Not because the Divine was on Long’s side, as some die-hard parishioners want to think.
And when it comes to other financial misdeeds that have impacted congregants, particularly with Bishop Gary Hawkins, that have recently come to the fore, a curtain of silence has come down around Long and the church. These are not the actions of a innocent man or someone who has nothing to hide.
As I said previously, any mediation, or mediation that leads to a out-of-court settlement outside of a public trial, reflects negatively on Bishop Long.