A fourth lawsuit in what appears to be a growing sex scandal was filed Friday against Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the Atlanta area megachurch where Long is pastor. According to CNN, Spencer LeGrande, 22, filed suit against the beleaguered religious leader, joining lawsuits filed earlier in the week by Anthony Flagg, 21, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, and Jamal Parris, 23. LeGrande has alleged that the prominent pastor coerced him into a sexual relationship when LeGrande accompanied him on a trip to Africa in 2005.
According to LeGrande’s lawsuit, the then 17-year-old, unable to go to sleep his first night in Nairobi, Kenya, took the sleep medication Ambien at the behest of Bishop Long, who allegedly also took the medication. The suit alleges the Eddie Long then hugged the young man, kissed him, licked his lips, and rubbed his chest. The two then slept together.
Long issued a statement denying the allegations.
Spokesman Art Franklin noted, “Our position about the lawsuits has not changed. Bishop Long categorically denies the charges,” said spokesman Art Franklin. “We believe that it is unfortunate the young men have chosen to take this course of action. The defense team will review the complaints and respond accordingly at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.”
In a statement on the New Birth megachurch website Thursday, Long denied the allegations as well, telling his followers that he would address the matter of the sex scandal on Sunday.
Spencer LeGrande alleges in his lawsuit that Long manipulate and deceived him, telling him that having sex with him was “a healthy component of his spiritual life.” The suit contends that Bishop Long plied young men with cars, clothing, jewelry, and electronics bought with church money.
Legrande states in the lawsuit that he met Eddie Long in 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina, where LeGrande had been attending an offshoot of the New Birth megachurch since 2003. LeGrande alleges that Long convinced him to move to Atlanta, bought him a car, gave him cash, and paid his tuition at Beulah Heights University.
He was told to have no girlfriends.
Spencer LeGrande said in the lawsuit that Bishop Eddie Long took him on trips to Africa and the two had “intimate sexual contact” on the trips. The suit further alleges that LeGrande and Long had sexual contact through 2009.
LeGrande’s lawsuit followed another suit of sexual coercion filed by Jamal Parris on Thursday. Parris claims to have been a personal assistant to Long and was often asked to stay after church, where he and Long would then engage in sex.
The sex scandal exploded onto the national headlines Tuesday when two men, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Murray Robinson, accused the popular Baptist pastor of sexual coercion. Like Spencer LeGrande, the two young men alleged that Bishop Eddie Long traveled with them and engaged in sexual misconduct, including oral sex and masturbation.
According to CNN affiliate WGCL-TV, during a conference call with pastors and supporters Friday, Long said that they would “arise through this situation.” He continued, “I have never dealt with anything like this before. I have been under attack before, but everything else has been different levels and different challenges.”
WGCL-TV via CNN.com