Bishop Eddie Long settled civil lawsuits several months ago which alleged that he used his influence to coerce young men into sexual relationships. But new interviews by two of the five men that were party to the settlement have put the pastor and Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church back in the media spotlight.
When the settlement was announced in May, plaintiff's attorney B.J. Bernstein said neither she nor her clients would give interviews on the case, then or in the future. But two of the men, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, have risked their still-undisclosed settlements to share their story.
“I'm going to tell the world—money does not buy happiness," LeGrande told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Aug. 24. “When you sleep at night, the problems are still there. The money stuff, who cares about the number. I feel like burning [the money].”
The extensive interviews, conducted in conjunction with Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB, detail the relationship between the boys and Long, and how they feel they were manipulated. The interviews were conducted in Miami, Fla. where LeGrande and Parris have relocated, hoping to start fresh. But both men said they still bear scars of Long’s manipulation of their need for a father into unwanted sexual encounters.
“[The money is] just not enough anymore,” Parris told WSB. “I thought I could cover the pain up. I thought I could move, start over and everything will go away. I was terribly wrong."
During the interview, Parris and LeGrande announced that they were writing a book together which would share the details of what happened to them in hopes of helping others.
With the interviews made public on the WSB Web site, Bishop Long has issued a statement in response.
“Unfortunately, we are in the media again and people are wondering what I am going to say,” the statement read. “All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.
“I will continue to honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality and restraint as it relates to the resolution of the civil litigation and will not be diverted from the important work of this ministry.”