(EURWEB) Responding on Monday to four lawsuits alleging that Bishop Eddie Long coerced young men into sexual relations, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church acknowledged that the accusers accompanied the pastor on trips but said it could not confirm or deny whether anything inappropriate took place, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Lithonia megachurch, in its response filed in DeKalb County State Court Monday, said the men accompanied Long on trips, in some cases overseas, but added it couldn’t explain the nature of relationships that may have existed between Long and the men.
The four men allege that Long used his influence, lavish trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.
The LongFellows Youth Academy, the church’s mentoring program for males 13 through 18, also filed responses. Long is identified as the founder and chief executive of the academy, which is named in three of the lawsuits.
The church said Anthony Flagg, one of the accusers, traveled with Long on trips to Tuskegee, Ala., New York and Las Vegas, but couldn’t provide further details. It said it could not “admit or deny” allegations that the two were intimate.
The response said “the church understands that Bishop Long often shared hotel rooms with members of the congregation while traveling,” but it couldn’t say whether Flagg shared a room with Long.
Long has called the plaintiffs’ allegations false. His responses to the lawsuit were filed last week.
Regarding Maurice Robinson, another accuser, LongFellows Youth Academy would confirm only that he participated in the program.