Bishop Eddie Long said he didn’t want to try his case in the court of public opinion but that was taken out of his hands as soon as the scandalous sexual allegations against him were announced in a press conference. But Jamal Parris, his third accuser, ramped up the sex scandal game somewhat when he stopped to talk to Atlanta reporters outside a Colorado grocery store. Jamal Parris told Fox 5 Atlanta that Bishop Eddie Long “manipulated” him and others from childhood and he was no man, but a “monster.”
Jamal Parris, 23, was described as reluctant to speak at first but soon opened up to the Atlanta reporter. His words reflect a quiet hostility toward the man he claims in his lawsuit told him to call him “daddy” and used biblical scripture to justify their sexual relationship.
Parris said he loved Eddie Long. “I’m always going to have love for the things that he taught me,” he said. “But how he left us hurt worse than anything I ever felt in my life.”
Jamal Parris and his mother joined Eddie Long’s megachurch, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, in 2001 when Parris was only 14. A product of a single-parent household, Eddie Long soon became a father figure and a mentor. Parris alleges in his lawsuit that Long gave him a cell phone just weeks after he became a member of the church. But the relationship developed into one where Eddie Long gave him gifts, cash, cars, and took him on long trips in exchange for sex.
“You finally have a father that you’ve always wanted for and always dreamed of,” Jamal Parris said of Long. “He would just walk away from you if you don’t give him what he wants. So you end up turning into something you never thought you would be, which is now a slave to a man that you love.”
As for the sexual allegations described in Parris’ lawsuit, allegations that echo the charges leveled by three other young men, Bishop Eddie Long has adamantly denied any such misconduct. On Sunday, Long faced his parishioners for the first time since the story broke (Tuesday, September 21). He described his and his family’s ordeal as “painful” and “difficult” and he vowed to fight the allegations being made against him.
“This man turned his back on us when he had no more need for us,” Parris told Fox 5. “That’s not a father, that’s a predator.”
Earlier in the interview, Jamal Parris had stated that he had no reason to lie, that you could look in his eyes and hear the pain in voice. “We would have to be the craziest kids in the world to want to come out and admit to another man touching on us publicly,” Parris posited later. “To really believe this is about money would be absolutely ludicrous.”
Parris said he couldn’t get Bishop Long and what was done to him as a young man out of his head.
By the end of the interview, Parris wanted to address the Bishop Eddie Long directly.
“But that man can not look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain,” he said, looking straight at the camera. “Why you can sit in front of the church and tell them that you categorically deny it. You can’t say that to our face. And you know this. You are not a man, you are a monster.”
Bishop Eddie Long stood before the congregation of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Sunday and said, “I am not the man being portrayed on the television. That’s not me.” He told the congregants that he had been advised to say nothing about the allegations, but he vowed to fight them.
Long runs one of the most successful Christian ministries in the United States. The sex scandal shocked the Atlanta area and its Christian community as more details about the allegations made by the first two accusers, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Murray Robinson, came to the fore. Then Jamal Parris filed his lawsuit two days later. The next day, another young man, Spencer LeGrande, added his suit to the growing pile.
Parris told Fox 5 that he had went to Bishop Eddie Long and tried to resolve the issues privately, but it did not work. He then filed his lawsuit.
It is unclear if there will be other lawsuits against the beleaguered pastor.
B. J. Bernstein, the attorney representing all four young men, said she did not approve Jamal Parris’ comments to the press.