The hits keep coming for Eddie Long, the suburban Atlanta-based anti-gay mega-church pastor hit with three lawsuits from young men alleging sexual coercion. As the third lawsuit was announced last night, "Pastors with iPhones" photos were released, showing Long modeling lycra muscle tees and apparently sent to select young men in his congregation.
The embattled pastor canceled a proposed press conference and radio interviews this morning, reports the Journal Constitution.
The syndicated radio show, heard locally on Kiss 104.1, had issued a press release saying the leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church would discuss the allegations on-air. However, the show's Roland Martin, who was scheduled to interview Long., said on his Twitter account early Thursday that "the lawyers have made the decision that due to the third lawsuit that Bishop not to do interviews tomorrow." Craig Gillen, an attorney for Long, was interviewed on the radio program instead. Gillen said there was "miscommunication" about a press conference today, and that there would not be one . On Wednesday a Long representative issued a release to media members that a press conference would be held Thursday.
In the latest suit filed Wednesday evening, Jamal Parris, a 23-year-old a former member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, claims Long coerced him into sexual acts and encouraged Parris to call him “Daddy”.
In two other suits filed Tuesday, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson claimed Long "coerced" them and numerous young male church members "into engaging in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification." The suits allege Long used church funds to give them cash, gifts and cars. Read the complaints HERE and HERE.
The besieged anti-gay pastor is being defended by Pastor Ted Haggard, reports AOL News.
"Haggard said that Long deserves a fair hearing and that if the accusations are false, he will survive the ordeal. 'The bishop is surrounded by people that will counsel him well,' he said. Haggard, who was a superstar among the Christian right until a gay sex scandal forced him to resign, said that all too often unsavory allegations can tarnish a person's reputation, even if they are unproved. 'Public perception becomes more important than the facts,' he said. While stressing that nothing had been proved against Long, whom he said he has met once or twice, Haggard said it's important to remember that all Christians struggle with sin. 'It's fundamental to all Christian beliefs that Christians are simultaneously saints and sinners,' he said. 'We're saints in the eyes of God, but we all know we're sinners, which is why we value redemption."
And more on "Pastors with iPhones": ABC News reports the images were emailed in November 2008 and signed, "Eddie L Long, Amazed by His Grace." Says attorney BJ Bernstein: "What pastor in his right mind sends a picture from himself, posing in his bathroom in a muscle shirt? None that I know of. Especially one who is a committed homophobe."