Bishop Eddie Long built one of the nation's best-known black megachurches by being an outspoken religious leader who campaigned against same-sex marriage. Now he's preparing to break the silence about accusations that he used jewelry, cars and cash to lure three young men into sexual relationships.
Long, a married father of four, has planned a news conference Thursday to speak about the lawsuits filed this week by the three New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members who say that they were coerced into sexual liaisons by the prominent pastor.
The lawsuits say the young men were 17 or 18 years old at the time, enrolled in New Birth's ministry for teen boys.
A lawyer for Long, who writes books on heterosexual relationships and has strong ties to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family, adamantly denied the allegations.
B.J. Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men. The Associated Press normally does not name people who claim they are victims of sexual impropriety, but Bernstein said all three - Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21, and Jamal Parris, 23 - have consented to making their identities public.