30 Dec 2010

Message to Baptist pastor from man suing him for sex abuse: "You are not a man. You are a monster."

CNN - September 29, 2010

Accuser's message for Bishop Eddie Long: 'You are a monster'

By the CNN Wire Staff

  • Long drops plans to attend Florida pastor installation
  • "I cannot forget the way that he made me cry," accuser tells WAGA
  • The lawsuits allege that the pastor enticed young male church members into sex
  • Long's spokesman says the televangelist "categorically" denies the allegations

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- A prominent Georgia pastor accused of sexual coercion has canceled plans to attend a pastor installation at a Florida church, a spokeswoman for that church said, "due to recent developments."

Pastor Eddie Long had planned to travel to Miami for the installation of a new pastor at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church this weekend, spokeswoman Beverly Rodrigues said.

But four lawsuits filed last week accusing the televangelist of coercing young male church members into having sex with him, changed his plans.

"He was involved in the installation service of our new pastor, Rev. Jeremy Upton," Rodrigues said. "Bishop Long sent us a letter informing us that he would not be attending due to recent developments."

One of the young men who has accused Long told Atlanta television station WAGA that he wanted to send a message to Long: "You are not a man. You are a monster."

"I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head, I cannot forget the smell of his cologne and I cannot forget the way that he made me cry many nights when I drove in his cars on the way home," Jamal Parris, 23, told a WAGA reporter who traveled to Colorado to interview him.

Parris -- a former church employee and personal assistant to Long -- filed one of four lawsuits last week accusing the Baptist televangelist of coercing young male church members into having sex with him.

Long's spokesman, Art Franklin, has said that the pastor "categorically and adamantly denies" the allegations, adding that they were "a case of retaliation and a shakedown for money by men with some serious credibility issues."

Long's Attorney Craig Gillen said Wednesday that Long's accusers and their lawyers were unfairly trying the pastor in the media.

"The appropriate place to try lawsuits is in the courtroom," Gillen said. "There are rules on how civil litigation is to take place and how counsel should conduct themselves, we intend to follow those rules."

Speaking from the pulpit of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Sunday, Long said he would fight the allegations, but did not address specific accusations.

"I am not the man that has been portrayed on television," he told his congregation.

Again, on Tuesday night, Long alluded to the lawsuits, telling his congregation that sometimes he has to speak in code and with "encrypted messages" that the media would not understand.

"I am not speaking about individuals and all of that," he said. "This is spiritual warfare. And I pray for mercy for all who are involved."

Parris told WAGA that his suffering was real, and he had a message for Long.

"That man cannot look me in the eye and tell me we did not live this pain. While you can sit in front of the church and tell them that you categorically deny it, you can't say that to our face," he said. "And you know this. You are not a man. You are a monster."

Parris' suit accuses Long of manipulating and deceiving him into thinking the sexual acts were a "healthy component of his spiritual life," giving him, money, trips and gifts.

It says Parris left the church in late 2009, "disillusioned, confused and angry about his relationship with Defendant Long."

Parris joined New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 2001, when he was 14. Long counseled Parris when the latter talked about his strained relationship with his father and got him a job as a summer camp counselor at New Birth, the suit states.

"What you have to understand is this man manipulated us from childhood. This was our father and we loved him," Parris told WAGA.

The lawsuits accuse Long of using his power and influence within the 25,000-member church to lure young male church members into sexual relationships. The suits allege that the relationships, which began when the men were in their teens, lasted over many months.

Long took the young men -- all of them teens at the time -- on trips, including to Kenya, according to the suits. He allegedly enticed the young men with gifts including cars, clothes, jewelry and electronic items.

Long engaged in intimate sexual acts with the young men, such as massages, masturbation and oral sex, the lawsuits say.

The accusations are particularly controversial because Long, who is married, has preached passionately against homosexuality over the years.

"I've been accused, I'm under attack," Long told his suburban Atlanta congregation Sunday.

"I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I'm going to fight," he said. "I feel like David against Goliath, but I've got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."

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