Bishop Eddie Long might be close to settling with the four young men who brought the sexual misconduct lawsuits against him last September, which set off a scandal that rocked the gospel world.
While the Atlanta mega-church pastor has remained silent about the lawsuit, the judge presiding in the case, DeKalb County State Court Judge Johnny Panos, told a local Atlanta TV station Friday that both sides had been having marathon meetings all week and are coming close to an agreement.
“We were at the court until 3 a.m. one day this week, just pushing through the issues and based on what my understanding is, most of those issues have been resolved, and there’s some fine tuning that needs to be done,” he told the station. “And so it’s not completely done, as I understand, but I want to encourage them to continue to do that.”
Panos added that he hoped the mood of the Easter season would inspire both sides to reach an agreement.
Well, it looks like it inspired Long somewhat. During his Easter sermon Sunday, the Bishop seemed to take some subtle jabs at his accusers.“You ain't messin’ with me. I shall rise again and I ain't going through this,” he said during his sermon at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. “You have to go down there and let the devil know that what they thought was gonna kill you, didn't kill you. What they thought was gonna bring terror to you, didn't bring terror to you and you made the enemies public spectacle.”
Many were shocked last fall when four young men — Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande — filed lawsuits against the bishop alleging he used church money to buy them lavish gifts and overseas trips to lure them into sexual relationships. Among other salacious allegations, one lawsuit alleges that Long wanted the men, who were teens when the alleged misconduct took place, to consider him to be their “daddy.” The accusations were fueled even more with the release of cell phone pictures that Long allegedly sent to the plaintiffs showing the Bishop posing and flexing in tight clothing. The men are all in their early 20s now, but were 17 and 18 when the alleged inappropriate relationships happened. The lawsuits seek unspecified financial damages.
Long refuted the allegations in a lengthy series of responses filed in November, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
If a settlement deal falls through, the case will likely head to trial this summer.
(Photo: John Amis-Pool/Getty Images)