Ever since the sexual coercion allegations were leveled against Bishop Eddie Long, the internationally prominent pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastor has taken the quiet path, refusing to address the allegations except to deny them and to say that he would not try his case in the court of public opinion. On Wednesday, according to 11 Alive News, Eddie Long added famed private investigator T. J. Ward to his legal team, which means that the kid gloves are about to come off. Ward’s job will be to find evidence to either discredit or obviate the allegations of the four accusers aligned against Eddie Long. In short, the sex scandal that has seen dirt thrown from one side only is about to see it returned.
T. J. Ward told CBS Atlanta: “This is an attack on Bishop Eddie Long and the church. Our plans are to take each allegation and look into them and behind them and look at the validity.”
What the famed private investigator — he was involved in the Natalee Holloway disappearance case — diplomatically circumvented was the more direct statement that he has been charged with completely dissecting the lives of the four accusers: Anthony Flagg, Maurice Murray Robinson, Jamal Parris, and Spencer LeGrange. His job will be to find every bit of disparaging information he can on the accusers and turn it over to the legal team to use in Long’s defense. And it will not matter what that information might be, from the smallest lie to the most heinous crime, anything that besmirches the characters of those casting allegations against his client that can be obtained will be gathered.
How much of it is used will be up to the Eddie Long’s attorneys if and when the cases go to trial.
At present, there are the four. Although B. J. Berstein, the lawyer representing all four accusers, has stated that she has had contact with many who allege sexual misconduct with Long, it is uncertain if all of those she has talked with have filed lawsuits or if there are others yet to come forward.
Regardless, Eddie Long is readying for a fight. Thus far, it has been a little one-sided, with allegations being made by the four men that Long seduced them and used his male authority and power in the church to coerce them into sexual relationships. But with T. J. Ward gathering ammunition, Long is preparing to start something other than a passive defense.
Shayne Lee, a sociologist who studies black churches and their leaders, says that Eddie Long has little choice but to defend against the allegations of homosexuality or risk losing his standing and everything he has built at New Birth Ministries over the past couple decades. Lee points out that black churches take a more literal view of the bible and homosexuality is considered an abomination. In an op-ed piece for CNN, Lee wrote, “What this means for Long is that the walls of his spiritual empire will ostensibly crumble if he is unable to launch an aggressive and cogent defense against these allegations.”
Eddie Long, who has been a vehement vocal opponent of homosexuality and gay marriage, is challenged with the loss of his international ministry as well as the loss of his personal reputation.
In an interview, Shayne Lee told CNN, “He’ll demonize the accusers, and couch it in terms of how the enemy Satan is trying to hurt the ministry.”
And it has already begun. In his first service since the sex scandal began, Bishop Eddie Long told his parishioners, “… I’m going to fight. I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.” By casting himself as akin to the biblical David, he has put himself on the side of the good, the underdog, and the righteous. He has aligned himself with god. Those who are not aligned with god are, by default, aligned with evil and/or satan.
T. J. Ward is helping to gather those five rocks, but by the time all of them are thrown, there will most likely be mud everywhere.