The hits keep coming for "Bishop" Eddie Long, the Atlanta-based anti-gay televangelist accused of luring at least five young men into sexual relationships. Last week it was announced that ten current and former members of New Birth Mssionary Baptist Church are suing the pastor, church and an "investment advisor" for conspiring to defraud them. The church members lost about one million dollars in the so-called "Ponzi scheme."
The North Carolina businessman at the center of the scandal has a history of shady investment schemes. Ephren Taylor Jr. is being investigated by federal authorities and is the subject of a federal lawsuit, reports the AP.
Taylor is also named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this month in U.S. District Court in North Carolina. In that case, lawyers say Taylor made a series of investment presentations for the "Prosperity Fund" at churches in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Taylor's whereabouts remain unknown.
Attorneys for the church members say in a DeKalb County lawsuit that Taylor urged them to liquidate their retirement accounts, and as a result some lost their life savings. Plaintiff's attorney Jason Doss, who filed the lawsuit, said his legal team has struggled to locate Taylor, who operated a company in Raleigh, N.C. "We don't know where he is," said Doss. "He's sort of off the map."
Taylor sent this statement to the Associated Press: "Don't assume that I am just another greedy businessman. I am taking action to make things right."
Long and another local anti-gay mega-church leader, Gary Hawkins, are also linked to a "questionable mortgage venture". Hawkins is accused of receiving kickbacks from the firm, which is now being investigated by the DeKalb County Police, the Secret Service and other federal authorities.
Yet another lawuit was filed against the pastor earlier this month—ordering Long and two others to pay $1.9 million for defaulting on a property loan. Long and his business partners bought the Hoops Gym in Jonesboro .... presumably so he could watch young men work up a sweat and offer "pastoral advice" ...
The latest lawsuit comes six months after Long reached an out-of-court settlement with at least five young men who had accused him of sexual coercion. Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande filed sexual coercion lawsuits against Long and New Birth last fall. Long was accused of using church funds to give the young men cash, gifts and cars. The sexual relationships reportedly began when each of the plaintiffs were around 16 years old. Read the complaints HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Centino Kemp later came forward with more allegations.
Why can't Eddie Long and New Birth help those church members who are in foreclosure or who lost their homes? Probably because the pastor is too busy using church funds to pay house notes for teenage boys.
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