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[UPDATE] Georgia Mega-Church Leader's Troubles

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

[UPDATE] 10-15 9:59AM --

Lithonia, Georgia (AP) --

A former employee of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church says in a lawsuit that she was sexually harassed there.

The plaintiff, Tama Colson, says in the federal lawsuit that a
male supervisor showed her a picture of a male sex organ last
October.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, October 13, says the man became her supervisor earlier this year and began a "campaign of torment," and that she was demoted when she complained and eventually was fired.

Art Franklin, a spokesman for the church, said in a statement
that New Birth requires employees to report abuse within 48 hours
and that Colson did not complain until August. He says an
investigation has begun.

Long is not named in the lawsuit. He's facing lawsuits by four
men who claim he coerced them into sexual relations.

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[UPDATE] 10-12 8:30AM --

Decatur, Georgia (AP) --

Bishop Eddie Long is being sued over a business deal involving a gym in Jonesboro.

The lawsuit filed Monday, Oct. 11 in DeKalb County says Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, and two business partners
arranged to buy Hoops N' Fitness in Jonesboro in 2007.

The seller filed suit last year, claiming that none of the debt
had been paid.

On Monday, the mortgage company, State Bank and Trust and the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. filed suit against Long and his
partners.

The new suit alleges the three parties owe $1.86 million on the
defaulted loan, along with $32,000 in interest.

Long's spokesman, Art Franklin, says he's unfamiliar with the
lawsuit and has no comment.

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[UPDATE] 9-27 3:15PM --

Despite allegations that he lured four young men into sexual relationships, many of Bishop Eddie Long's followers remain unwavering in their support for him as he pledges to fight the accusations like David fighting Goliath.

Casting himself as the Bible's ultimate underdog, Long went
before thousands of faithful supporters at his megachurch on Sunday, Sept. 26 outside Atlanta and promised to battle claims that surfaced in
lawsuits last week that he abused his "spiritual authority."

Long's brief addresses to the congregation at New Birth
Missionary Baptist Church were met with thunderous applause and an
outpouring of support during the services. The sanctuary was nearly
filled to its 10,000-seat capacity for both the 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
services.

Long came onto the stage amid wild cheers and shouts of, "We
love you bishop!"

Long says he realized people had been waiting on him to speak since four young men filed lawsuits accusing him of luring them into the relationships with gifts and travel.

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[UPDATE] 9-24 2:11PM --

Bishop Eddie Long's boys' academy guided teens through their "masculine journey" with lessons on financial discipline and sexual control, right down to a little card the students had to carry in their wallets reminding them why they shouldn't have sex.

Long himself, though, has been accused of contradicting those
virtues.

The bishop has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage in the
past. He's being sued by two young men who attended the Long Fellows Youth Academy and say Long used the program to groom them for sexual relationships.

The men, who were 17 and 18 at the time, say Long recruited them
for the academy after they joined New Birth Missionary Baptist
Church and lured them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash.

Long and his attorney have denied all the accusations, with Long
remaining largely silent. On Sunday, September 26 he will speak publicly to his congregation at church for the first time since the lawsuits were filed.

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Atlanta, Georgia (AP) --

An attorney representing two men accusing an Atlanta-area mega-church pastor of coercing them into a sexual relationship says her law office is broadening the investigation.

B.J. Bernstein says her office is taking calls and believes
there are other victims. She says she opened her investigation
after getting a call from one of the men.

Lawyers for the men, now 20 and 21, said they filed the lawsuit
yesterday against Bishop Eddie Long. The Associated Press generally
doesn't identify people who they say were victims of sexual
impropriety.

Craig Gillen, Long's attorney, says the pastor "categorically
denies the allegations."

Although the relationships started when the plaintiffs were past
the legal age of consent in Georgia -- which is 16 -- Bernstein
says Long abused his "spiritual authority" to coerce her clients
into engaging in sexual acts.


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