Kind of Red

July 29, 2011

A Long Way to Go (Ctd.)

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Painted One @ 4:19 am

Bishop Eddie Long, Eddie L. Long, sex scandal, law suit settlement

Almost a year ago, I wrote about the controversy circling Bishop Eddie L. Long concerning the emergence of four civil suits, filed in Dekalb County, alleging that the bishop, “through manipulation, coercion, deception and fraud” engaged in a sexual relationship with four young men while they were teenagers.  (You may read my initial article in its entirety here.)  Each of the four suits presented their allegations with damning details.  They made specific references to expensive gifts, exotic trips financed by funds from the church.  Despite the staggering nature of the allegations, and the enormity of their implications, Bishop Long received, and has continued to receive, an inordinate amount of support from his followers, other high profile preachers and notable celebrities.  When the suits reached the public, Bishop Long initially lurked in the shadows, presumably at the advice of his counsel, and offered little to no direct rebuttal to the suits’ claims.  In his first public address to his congregation, he made curiously ambiguous statements like, “I never portrayed myself as a perfect man . . . but I am not the man that’s being portrayed on television; that’s not me,” “This thing I’m gone fight,” and “I’ve got five rocks, and I ain’t thrown one of them yet.”  He never once denied the veracity of the claims, he merely stated the portrayal of him in the news media was “not [him],” which could mean a wide range of things.

News of the allegations reverberated for weeks on end, then slowly began to dwindle, until it was learned that the parties reached a settlement for a reported amount of nearly $25 million, in addition to a private apology.   According to reports, the settlement awarded the young men $2.2 million to divide equally, and then each would receive $400,000 in payments until the money is paid over the next twenty years.  The final figure totaled $22 million for the four men, and roughly $2.8 million for their attorneys.  Immediately following news of the settlement, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Inc. released a “resolution” statement, one which was glaring in its impotence to address the gravity of the matter.  It read:  “After a series of discussions, all parties involved have decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.  As is usually the case when civil lawsuits resolve out of court, we cannot discuss any details regarding the resolution or the resolution process, as they are confidential.  This resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel.”

As an attorney, I completely comprehend the notion that the resolution of a civil complaint through pre-trial settlement does not qualify as an admission of guilt or any other liability.  Indeed, wise counsel often advise their clients of the propriety of settling contentious matters prior to reaching trial for a number of legitimate reasons: sparing the cost and expense of lengthy trials, the lesser standard of proof in a civil trials (based on a preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt standard in criminal trials) can produce an unwanted outcome regardless of evidence in one’s favor, trial records could potentially preserve unsavory details about the matter and present them to the public, et cetera.  Jesus even admonished his followers to “agree with thine adversary quickly” with regard to court proceedings.  Notwithstanding, this controversy is different, especially considering recent reports have named a fifth accuser who also received part of the settlement.  This accuser has Bishop Long’s name tattooed on his wrist, slightly above an inscription that reads, “Never a mistake, always a lesson.”

Bishop Long, Eddie Long, Eddie L. Long, sex scandal, settlement

Will Bishop Long ever explain why he sent this picture to one of the plaintiffs?

Such disturbing details, ones which Bishop Long wanted us all not to believe, deserved the fight the bishop promised.  He told his congregation, and all those watching the service’s broadcast, on Sunday September 26, 2010 that he would fight the allegations.  He told them that the man portrayed on television “was not [him].” He proudly proclaimed he had five rocks and “[had not] thrown one yet.” It was an awkward comparison considering he stood in the position of power, yet it roused his congregation nonetheless.   They expected to bishop to engage in a protracted legal battle that would ultimately vindicate him.

Nevertheless, as the parties moved towards a trial that could have potentially cleared his name of all wrongdoing, he settled the matter and kept the five rocks in his sling.  A reputed holy man seeking to clear his name of unfathomable transgressions should have sought more than the comforts a pre-trial settlement offered.  The aforementioned rationales for settlement should not have been enough for him to make this matter quietly go away.

If Bishop Long was willing to pay a reported award of $24.8 million, could he legitimately argue he settled to avoid the cost of a lengthy trial?  Should we question who is paying this sum considering the church was a named defendant in each of the four suits?  Shouldn’t his “five rocks” have provided sufficient ammunition to counteract the “evidence” presented by the plaintiffs?  Why issue a private apology if he knew he committed no wrong?  If he “was not the man portrayed on television,” would he truly find it necessary to prevent unsavory details from becoming public trial record?  Did he fully understand the implications of settling, especially for such a large sum, rather than at least offering the semblance of a fight?  The answer to all seems to be a resounding “no.”

This settlement suggests the unthinkable; Bishop Long used his stature, influence and access to abundant riches to prey upon some of his congregation’s most vulnerable members, young men seeking guidance from an influential father figure.  It would appear as though Kai Wright of The Root is right in declaring Bishop Long is nothing short of a sexual predator who used The Bible, his church and his position of power to prey upon boys.  It is a vile, despicable, unsettling revelation.  It completely disqualifies him from leading others in the faith, and those in ardent support of him should look inwardly to discover why they support the bishop.  He also violated the sacred trust between himself and his congregants.   He also aroused serious questions about his previously fiery rhetoric against the homosexual community.  It also has rendered tremendous damage to the faith.  As I wrote previously, “[Another] unfortunate truth with regard to this scandal is that it “[has] given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.” Christianity once again has been marred by the sullied reputation of one its leaders.”  In ten short months, Bishop Long has done more to discredit the faith he has preached about for the past few decades than any of his great works did to advance it.

Jesus offered a stern warning to those who “offend one of these little ones which believe in [Him]“,  and the Bible clearly articulates the standards a bishop, pastor or preacher of the Gospel should uphold.  Bishop Eddie L. Long has failed miserably to meet such standards as evidenced by this scandal he paid handsomely to rid himself of.  While it appears he has escaped judgment in the earth, suffice to say, Bishop will have much to account for in the heretocome.  Those who continue to support him should question their motives in doing so.  Their support of him is a tacit support of a reprehensible pattern of predatory abuse and institutional neglect.   Sadly, it appears as though we have a long way to go to convince them of that.

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2 Comments »

  1. i would like to say this…… all along long knew he was in the wrong for doing that to those men( boys at the time….) he decieve the church, the members,and anyone else involved in the spiritual growth than all humans seek in one way or another. it seems to be common practice for for pastors,preachers ministers, to take advantage or their power and positions that the hold in society. where are al sharpton jesse jackson and all the other black leaders when this was going on? i suppose they pick and choose their battles. its a sad way to see all this come to an end like this, however, in today’s society where the media hold tremendous power over speech and the way its portrayed to the public u wonder if long received a fair shake in the handling of the suits filed against him. and by the way, who paid out the monies to these men? the church? long out of his own pocket? i think not, and i also question the faith of those who continue to back long despite these allegations against him. what are these people thinking now?

    Comment by william — April 25, 2012 @ 2:27 am | Reply

    • William, I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly. As was the case with Bishop Long, Jerry Sandusky and countless others, we have seen men in high authority abuse the trust of those who have granted (or been subservient to) them the very power they abuse. Unfortunately in this incident, it made little difference that Bishop Long purported to be a man of the faith. You are also correct in noting how his parishoners are compllicit in varying degrees, pareticularly those who knew prior to the scandal breaking, and the media played a vital role in how the whole saga was perceived.

      Comment by The Painted One — April 25, 2012 @ 8:51 am | Reply


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