The wife of Bishop Eddie Long, the famed DeKalb County megachurch preacher accused of sexual involvement with young men, has said she will go through with a divorce with her husband.
In a statement obtained by Channel 2 Action News Friday morning Vanessa Long said “After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long.”
She said she filed for divorce Thursday and hoped it would move along smoothly, but hours later, she issued a statement saying she plans to withdraw her petition from divorce.
"I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage. My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me," she said. " I love my family and church family, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Therefore, my husband and I have mutally agreed to find healing from these attacks."
Then, early Friday evening, Mrs. Long's attorney sent a new statement saying she was still going through with the divorce petition.
"Consistent with her original statement made this morning, Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly; however, she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time," the statement said.
Bishop Eddie Long released his own statement on New Birth Missionary Baptist Church's Facebook page saying, "God has blessed us with a wonderful family. Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and Mother. My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God’s Will in these circumstances. We will do so as privately as possible and with a spirit of love and sensitivity to our family. We ask that you be in prayer for our family and that we be allowed to privately pursue this important path without need, or request from the media, for further comment."
In June, New Birth denied rumors that his wife was moving out. The previous month, Long reached a settlement with four men who accused him of sexual abuse.Former church members Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande filed lawsuits against Long in September 2010, saying he coerced them into sexual acts with gifts and money. They said some of the encounters were on lavish trips across the globe.
Parris and LeGrande said they got caught up in the lifestyle Long gave them access to.
"A predator, they have a certain pattern that they all do. And for him it started with ‘Let me captivate you,’" Parris told Channel 2’s Jodie Fleischer in an exclusive interview.
Long has maintained his innocence against the claims.
"I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. That’s not me," he told his congregation shortly after the lawsuits.
He vowed to fight the allegations in the same sermon. In legal documents, he admitted to buying gifts and traveling with his accusers, his “spiritual sons,” but he said there was no sexual contact. He settled the suits for an undisclosed amount of money.