Updated:LITHONIA, Ga.,None — New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is responding to allegations that church members knowingly ignored claims that Bishop Eddie Long sexually abused young male members of the church.
A church elder told Channel 2's Tom Jones if anyone had previously known about the charges, someone would've spoken up.
"If indeed there were people aware of this kind of situation, they would have been reported. So there's no way that individuals here at New Birth could have been aware of those kind of allegations and not communicate," said New Birth Chief Ministry Officer Darius Wise.
VIDEO: New Birth Minister Speaks About Eddie Long Scandal
Wise didn't explicitly say whether or not he believes the young men, but he did defend pictures of the bishop that has some talking. The cell phone pictures, released by Long's accusers' attorney, capture Long showing off his physique in a bathroom. Attorney B.J. Bernstein said Long sent the photos to young men.
"For him to be as conscious as he is about his health about his physique that's not uncommon to take a picture of yourself," Wise said.
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But Wise wanted to talk more about the influence Bishop Long has had on his life and thousands of others. He said he met Long about 12 years ago while he was a freshman at Morris Brown College. He said the bishop mentored him and helped him become the man he is today.
"The list goes on and on of people who can tell the same story that I'm telling here today that Bishop Long has been an incredible blessing in their lives," Wise said.
He said he doesn't recognize Long as he is depicted on television.
"We've gotten a picture in the last week and a half of Bishop Long and I don't know that guy. I know the guy that is extremely generous, has a heart and a passion to develop young men," Wise said.
He also spoke of the contributions the church has made in the community and abroad, and said he wants to see the bishop portrayed in that light.
"I want to see the incredible blessing that this man, this ministry and that program have been ... all over the world," Wise said.
Previous Stories: September 29, 2010: Long Enlists Private Investigator Amid Sex Scandal September 29, 2010: 4th Man Files Suit Against Bishop Eddie Long September 29, 2010: Bishop Long Again Speaks To New Birth Members September 28, 2010: Barnes Won't Return Donation From Bishop Long September 27, 2010: Bishop Long: I've Been Accused, I'm Under Attack September 26, 2010: Public Awaits Eddie Long's Sex Scandal Address September 24, 2010: Bishop Eddie Long Seen Leaving Home September 24, 2010: Vehicles, Security Race To Bishop Long's Home September 22, 2010: 3rd Lawsuit Filed Against Bishop Long In Sex Scandal