Bishop Eddie L. Long, once the unquestioned leader of one of the largest religious congregations in the country, has finally settled out of court with the four men who claim he bamboozled them into multiple homosexual encounters.
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church attorney Barbara Marschalk told the press that “matters have been resolved.” She also comfortably predicts that “the lawsuits will be dismissed, with prejudice, by close of business tomorrow.”
The attorney for the four men who sued Long, B.J. Bernstein, confirmed that both sides reached a settlement after three months of marathon negotiations.
Predictably, the public’s thirst for any salacious detail related to the case will not be satiated. Neither side would provide any details of the negotiations. And, of course, the terms of the settlement are not known and may never be known, lest there is a leak coming from the accusers’ camp.
“After a series of discussions, all parties decided to resolve the civil cases out of court,” New Birth Missionary Baptist Church told the media in a prepared statement. “This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans that God has for this ministry. As is usually the case when civil lawsuits are settled out of court, we cannot discuss any details regarding the resolution or the resolution process, as they are confidential. This resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel.”
Without a settlement, as rolling out previously reported, the judge presiding over the case would have ordered a trial that could have begun in the middle of the summer.
Now that the sexual lawsuit has finally concluded and Bishop Long can put this behind him, what will happen to the man’s colossus of an international ministry?
Immediately after the accusations were made public, Long made a very public promise to his congregation to defend himself against the charges. “This thing I’m gonna fight,” he said. But then a few more young men joined the lawsuit, accusing the powerful bishop of leveraging his position as well as lavish gifts, trips, cars and living arrangements to manipulate them into unwanted sexual relations. With one accuser, or maybe even two, Bishop Long could have implanted reasonable doubt about the accusers’ stories in the media and jury’s mind. But after the fourth accuser came forth, Bishop quickly retreated from his fighting position and adopted a negotiation stance that forever altered his ministry and public image.
Long was pilloried within religious circles and quickly became the butt of national jokes on television and radio and definitely within the black community, from whom he previously enjoyed widespread support.
Now that Bishop has settled, do you believe that he was guilty? And what do you believe the future holds for Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church?