“We’re all brothers in this,” LeGrande said.
Their statement concluded, “Our perspectives will be addressed in our book, Foursaken, which we hope to release soon.”
LeGrande said they’re still shopping for a publisher. The book will focus on their lives after breaking ties with the controversial bishop, who consistently denied the allegations against him.
LeGrande was 15 when he met Long at one of New Birth’s satellite churches in Charlotte, he told The AJC in 2011. The sermon, on the importance of fathers, left him in tears.
“When I started crawling, that was the day [my father] left,” LeGrande said.
Long filled that void, LeGrande said, telling him “I got you … I will be your dad.” Soon they were talking regularly on the phone.
The lack of a strong male influence was a common thread that bound Long’s accusers. Parris told The AJC in 2011 his father was abusive and rarely present. He said he met the bishop, whom he said he would eventually call “daddy,” when he was 14 and new to Atlanta.
Both men said they were 17 when the sexual advances began. By then he had taken them on several trips, to Kenya, Honduras and the Bahamas, among other exotic locales, introducing them to world-famous celebrities and lavishing them with new cars and their own apartments.
Their relationship with Long affected each man differently, but profoundly. Parris told The AJC in 2011 he was battling suicidal thoughts — “I’d love to take pills and never wake up,” he said.
Long never addressed the scandal directly, but in a sermon earlier this year he, too, had briefly entertained taking his own life.
“I had a moment…I had a moment…I wanted to kill myself and was ready,” he told his New Birth congregation, referring to a time when he said he felt “condemned from the four corners of the Earth.”
“My family loved me,” he said. “My church loved me…Regardless of what anybody said, love lifted me and carried me. And you didn’t judge me.”
Now it appears his accusers will have the final say on the most trying chapter in the life of New Birth and its bishop.