DECATUR, Ga. (CN) – Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of a 25,000-member megachurch near Atlanta, coerced three young men in his congregation into sexual relationships, the alleged victims claim in DeKalb County Court. Long allegedly seduced his so-called “spiritual sons” with cars, clothes, cash, jewelry, electronics, international trips and “access to numerous celebrities.”
Long leads the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and an offshoot ministry called the Longfellows Youth Academy.
The young men say Long “has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship.”
One of the plaintiffs says Long “would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship,” and made sexual advances “in the immediate aftermath” of his best friend’s death.
Another claims Long gave him a 2000 Mustang convertible and shared a bed with him on overnight trips so they could engage in “kissing, massaging, masturbating” and “oral sodomy.”
Long also encouraged a young church camp counselor to call him “Daddy” and asked the teen “to be nude in his presence,” according to a third lawsuit.
All three plaintiffs were in their teens when Long allegedly coerced them “to engage in sexual acts with him.”
Long’s attorney, Craig Gillen, says the pastor “categorically denies the allegations,” according to The Associated Press.
The alleged victims are suing Long, his church and the youth academy for breach of fiduciary duty; negligence; fraud; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and failure to warn, intervene and protect.
They are represented by Brenda Bernstein.