Bishop Eddie Long to face church members, media

Bishop Eddie Long is to face his congregation and the media Sunday morning to address allegations he took advantage, sexually, of young men who at the time were looking to the preacher for friendship and guidance.

The head of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia talked to supporters in conference call Friday, telling them that he was “under attack.” But his comments were vague and he didn’t take questions because of the pending suits.

“We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward," Long said, according WGLC-TV which monitored the phone call.

All other responses to the graphic allegations in the suit have come through a spokesman or his lawyer; Long  denies the allegations against him.

His representatives have not revealed what Long might say Sunday. And there have been unsubstantiated rumors that Long may step down.

But at least one member of the board of the bishop's Longfellows Youth Academy,  which is also named in the suits,  saysthat is unlikely.

DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown said none of the board members have asked for Long's resignation “to my knowledge. We [the board] have not met,” Brown told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday evening.

“I suspect we will not ask him to resign. Why? Everything is an allegation," Brown said.

Long’s reach goes far beyond the 25,000-member church he heads. He has met with presidents -- Democrats and Republicans -- and he has an international ministry that is seen on TBN, Daystar, The Word Network and online.

Such a high profile put the lawsuits describing gay sexual encounters with Long at the top of network newscasts and national radio and television morning shows  several times since the first two were filed on Tuesday. Many of those news accounts also showed clips of Long voicing his strong opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.

For his first public comments, the church has put restrictions on media covering two services Sunday morning – at 8 and 11. Those who cannot go to New Birth can watch it online; sign-in is required.

The lawsuits brought by the four young men  said the mega church minister took advantage of them when they were vulnerable. Long took them on trips to other continents, bought them jewelry and introduced them to celebrities, according to the suits.

Some of the details same details were in the suits.

The fourth man to file suit, Spencer LeGrande, said he was 15 when he first heard Long speak and he was brought to tears.

LeGrande said in his suit filed Friday Long hugged him and assured him "I got you" ... "I will be your dad."

And LeGrande said he called Long “dad” even though his father was part of his life. LeGrande and Long talked on the telephone regularly and when he was 17 they became sexual during a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, according to the complaint.

The others also called Long “dad” or “daddy.”

Three of the men have been accused of taking things from Long's personal office. Maurice Robinson, 20, was charged with burglary in June robbery and his case is pending.

The other two were not charged with a crime.

Anthony Flagg, 21, was with Robinson, according to his attorney. And Robinson and Anthony Boyd were captured on surveillance video taking an iPod, iPad and jewelry, according to a police report.

Attorney, B.J. Bernstein, who represents all four, said for some it was their jealousy when they discovered Long was allegedly involved with others that led them to sue.

They say Long used his power to force them into a sexual relationship. The civil suits filed in DeKalb County accused Long, the church and the affiliated Longfellows Youth Academy of fraud and negligence.