Two men filed lawsuits against mega-church pastor Bishop Eddie Long Tuesday accusing him of coercing them into having sex with him in exchange lavish trips, cars and cash.
Long, the Bishop of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia with over 25,000 members adamantly denies the claims.
The spiritual leader’s attorney Craig Gillen has released a statement on the accusations saying,
“It is unfortunate that these two young men have chosen to take this course of action.”
The two men, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20, both claim that they were chosen as the pastor’s “spiritual sons” and have been having inappropriate relations with him since the age of 16, the legal age of consent in Georgia.
Attorney Gillen noted that Maurice Robinson was arrested in June 2010 in connection with a burglary in the church along with 19-year-old Anthony Boyd who assisted in stealing an Ipad and an Iphone.
According to Robinson’s attorney B.J. Bernstein however, his actions were in retaliation after learning that he was not the pastor’s only “spiritual son.”
She tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution,
“He lashed out but if it weren’t for that act, we wouldn’t know about this. He talked to his friends and learned Long had other ‘spiritual sons.’”
The lawsuits name Long, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and its Longfellows Youth Academy as defendants.
Attorney Bernstein says she has text messages, emails and photographs of Long with the men as proof.
Robinson says when he was 15 years old he began spending personal time with the pastor and at some point was added to the church’s payroll.
He also says he was taken on a trip to New Zealand with the pastor where “sexual touching and other sexual acts” occurred.
At one point the suit claims that Long bought Flagg a Ford Mustang.