UPDATED (December 3, 2011)

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Vanessa Long, who stood by her husband Bishop Eddie Long as the Georgia mega-church pastor battled accusations that he seduced four young men with cars, clothes and trips, said Friday through an attorney that she is proceeding with plans to end their 21-year marriage.

Her announcement late Friday came a day after she had filed for divorce, and hours after she issued a statement through New Birth Missionary Baptist Church saying she loved her husband, had changed her mind and wanted to reconcile.

The statement late Friday by Vanessa Long’s attorney says “she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.”

“Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly,” the statement reads. “To avoid any undue confusion, Mrs. Long’s future statements, if any, will be issued through her attorneys only. At this time, neither she nor we will have any further comment on this matter.”

According to the divorce petition filed Thursday in DeKalb Superior Court, the couple is “currently living in a bona fide state of separation.” As of Friday afternoon, Vanessa Long’s attorneys had not filed a motion to withdraw the divorce petition.

In a statement issued through a New Birth spokesman Friday, Eddie Long said: “Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother. My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God’s Will in these circumstances.”

Shortly after the allegations of sexual abuse emerged, the pastor confidently strode out to a cheering congregation with his wife at his side as he vowed to fight the charges in September 2010.

Eddie Long settled the cases several months later. But by then, the allegations had attracted national attention, taken a toll on Long’s reputation and distracted from his international ministry. Details of the settlement were not disclosed. Long has never admitted to any wrongdoing.

In her petition, Vanessa Long indicated that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that there was “no hope of reconciliation of the parties.” She asked the court for temporary and permanent alimony, as well as attorneys’ fees and an equitable division of marital and non-marital property.

Her subsequent statement released through New Birth said “I believe in him and admire his strength and courage … My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me. My husband and I have mutually agreed to find healing from these attacks.”

Vanessa and Eddie Long were married March 10, 1990. The couple has three children together and has another child from Long’s previous marriage. On the church’s website, Vanessa Long is described as “the quiet strength in the Long family,” and “an inspiration to many of the women at New Birth as they watch her lovingly and quietly support her husband in every sense of the word.”


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Copyright 2011 The Associated Press


Errin Haines

Associated Press