Bishop Eddie Long Seen Leaving Home

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ATLANTA,None — A Channel 2 Action News crew spotted embattled megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long leaving his home Friday morning.

Long has avoided the public eye since three former New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members filed a lawsuit this week accusing him of using his power to coerce them into sex.

At about 9:30 a.m., Channel 2 Action News reporter Mike Petchenik saw a black Range Rover peel out and head out of Long's neighborhood. It was the first confirmed sighting of the pastor since the allegations came to light.

The same Range Rover that a Channel 2 Action News crew shot arriving to Long's Lithonia home Thursday afternoon left abruptly Friday morning and headed in the direction of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Channel 2 Action News confirmed the driver was Long.

Long canceled a radio appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show on Thursday. Instead, his lawyer, Craig Gillen, went on the show and read a statement from Long. His lawyer also said Long would wait until Sunday services at New Birth to speak publicly about the accusations.

Long has repeatedly denied the allegations.

READ: Entire Statement Here

The statement comes after prominent Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein released cell phone pictures Wednesday of Long -- the same day that a third lawsuit was filed accusing the Atlanta-area bishop of sexual abuse.

Three men have come forward accusing Long of coercing them into a sexual relationship.

Bernstein, who represents the three plaintiffs, said the pictures were sent to young men who attended Longfellows Youth Academy. She did not specify whether the plaintiffs also received the pictures.

Third Lawsuit Filed

In the latest lawsuit, the plaintiff, Jamal Parris, detailed how Long allegedly gave him his personal cell phone number two weeks after the two first met. Parris also alleged that Long encouraged him to call him "daddy." According to the suit, Parris' father had not been a positive figure in his life.

PDF: Suit Filed By Anthony Flagg PDF: Suit Filed By Jamal Parris PDF: Suit Filed By Maurice Robinson

Parris said he joined New Birth in 2001. He said he later became Long's personal assistant, and that Long would ask him to remain in his private office after church, where Long engaged in sexual misconduct with Parris, according to the suit. Parris said he eventually left the church and later found out from other young male church members that they too had sexual contact with the bishop, according to the suit.

Since the first two lawsuits went public Tuesday, Bernstein said her office has taken several calls and believes that there are other victims. Bernstein said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men.

First Two Lawsuits Filed

The first two plaintiffs, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, claimed that Long used his position as a spiritual counselor and leader to take the young men on trips out of state and performed sexual acts with them. In the lawsuits, the men accuse Long of sexually abusing them, as well as several other young male church members and employees.

The lawsuits also name New Birth Missionary Baptist Church at 6400 Woodrow Road in Lithonia as a defendant.

At a news conference Tuesday, Bernstein told reporters that the alleged abuse occurred when the plaintiffs were 17 and 18 years old. Robinson and Flagg are now 20 and 21 years old.

Bernstein described Long's relationship with the boys as odd.

"It was essentially a marriage ceremony where there were candles, (an) exchange of jewelry and biblical quotes given," said Bernstein.

During the Tuesday news conference, Bernstein also revealed that one of the plaintiffs was arrested in connection with a June 13 burglary at New Birth. Channel 2 first reported details of the break-in, in which DeKalb police said two men wearing dark hooded tops and white gloves broke into Long's office and made off with high-end electronics, including Long's iPad, and jewelry.

Long Accusers IM Long Accusers

Bernstein said she expects Long's attorneys to bring up that arrest when addressing the abuse allegations.

"Maurice (Robinson) immediately told what he did when he was confronted about it. He returned the black diamonds, the gold, the things that he had in the bishop's office," Bernstein said.

"As bad as it is, if it weren't for that act, I don't know if we would have known about this because this young man exploded and realized that when he talked to his friends, he wasn't the only one," said Bernstein. "Bishop Long had other spiritual sons who had other relationships with him. It made him angry and confused and combusted in lashing out at the bishop in the only way possible."

According to the lawsuit, Flagg said Long shared a bedroom on overnight trips and engaged in intimate sexual contact with him. He said Long was also involved in advising and counseling him in areas of his personal life, the lawsuit states.

A statement released by Craig Gillen, attorney for Long, said, "Bishop Eddie Long adamantly denies the allegations. It is unfortunate that the two young men have chosen to take this course of action. We are reviewing the complaints and will respond accordingly."

Channel 2 Action News reporters Tom Jones and Eric Philips visited Long's church and neighborhood, where many people are expressing a show of support for Long.

One church member told Jones, "I just don't believe it. I know my bishop."

Previous Stories: September 24, 2010: Vehicles, Security Race To Bishop Long's Home September 22, 2010: 3rd Lawsuit Filed Against Bishop Long In Sex Scandal