Eddie Long accuser Spencer LeGrande finds his voice with new book

Spencer LeGrande's upcoming book is “Foursaken: The Long Road to Forgiveness.” (Contributed)

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Spencer LeGrande's upcoming book is “Foursaken: The Long Road to Forgiveness.” (Contributed)

Spencer LeGrande has found his purpose and his voice.

To get there, though, he had to let go of the hate and fear that engulfed him for years.

When he was 17, LeGrande alleges, he was coerced and manipulated into having a sexual relationship with the late Bishop Eddie L. Long, who was then senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest and one of the most influential megachurch leaders in the nation.

LeGrande, now 33, and three other former young members of New Birth — Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg and Jamaal Parris — sued Long and the church in 2010, eventually reaching a settlement for an undisclosed amount.

The civil lawsuit claimed Long used “monetary funds from the accounts of New Birth and other corporate and nonprofit accounts to entice the young men with cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics.” The lawsuit was eventually dismissed “with prejudice.”

The dismissals prevented the four defendants from suing Long again for the same alleged offense.

Long, who denied the allegations, died in 2017.

Now, LeGrande, the father of a 14-year-old son, lives in Miami with his fiancee.

He’s an entrepreneur, having invested in a business that makes and sells cleaning wipes for sneakers.

He recently earned a degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix.

And he has built a connection with his father, a man he hadn’t had a relationship with in about two decades.

“I went through a lot as my journey turned into answers,” said LeGrande, whose book, “Foursaken: The Long Road to Forgiveness,” will be released for Kindle on July 1 and in bookstores through Christian Faith Publishing.

His life, he said, is a testimony.

He grew up in what he calls the projects in High Point, North Carolina, and was raised by his mother, a single parent. Later the family moved to Charlotte.

“Growing up without a father left me with a hole inside my chest that I desperately wanted to be filled. I was bitter, angry, and desperate to be loved and accepted by the adults and kids around me. I looked everywhere for a role model, someone to look up to.”

The book, he says, tells the story of what he calls betrayal at the hands of a pastor he respected and thought of as a father figure, but also about LeGrande’s rebirth and path to forgiveness. LeGrande sent two chapters of his book to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He said he found healing “believing in God’s timing” and using forgiveness and faith as his weapons.

Even before the lawsuit, there were bouts of depression. He thought what he says happened to him was a secret he would take to his grave. He was floored when he found out others had the same experience.

The glare of the spotlight was unrelenting and took a toll on both LeGrande and his family.

While many people were sympathetic, the men were also criticized and ridiculed on social media. Other pastors defended Long from the pulpit.

“Now, if you’re in the car with your friends and a church song comes on, they all look at you different,” he said. “It was hard. Very hard.”

He paraphrases author and poet Maya Angelou about the agony of “bearing an untold story inside you.”

His mother, Deborah LeGrande, is awed by her son’s journey.

“He’s more self-assured,” said Deborah LeGrande, who lives in Louisiana. “After all he went through, he is victorious. He knows who he is in Christ.”

He’s still friendly with the other guys and talks most often with Anthony Flagg, who encouraged him to write the book.

LeGrande tried writing after the case ended, but feared his voice was lost. “I was too afraid to write. I felt like everyone was going to be against me. The fear was still in me during this whole process.”

As he wrote, however, he noticed the pain started to go away.

But something else drove him. He wanted to write to help others who found themselves going through similar situations or some other form of trauma.

“When I see me in the life I have now, I have to be thankful to have made it through,” he said.

He found his family. He found real love. He found peace.

And for others, he hopes the book leads to discussions about mental health and other issues.

Conversations spark change and raise awareness and “that’s good enough for me.”