September 22nd, 2010
09:03 AM ET

Exclusive: Bishop's rep: Abuse claims 'without merit'

Two men have filed suit claiming that prominent Atlanta pastor Eddie Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young males at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex. The church is denying the allegations.

Art Franklin, the spokesperson for Bishop Long, talked to American Morning's Kiran Chetry and John Roberts exclusively about the allegations.

Art Franklin: Good morning, Kiran and John. How are you guys?

Kiran Chetry: Great, thank you. Disturbing allegations for sure from two men who tell our Ed Lavandera they have texts and e-mail that is will corroborate their story. What is Bishop Long's side?

Franklin: I want to be clear from our perspective. There's been a lot of chatter since yesterday. But these complaints that have been filed against Bishop Long are definitely without merit and as we swiftly stated yesterday upon learning of the accusations, and as you said, Bishop Long categorically and adamantly denies the allegations and there's really unfortunate that the men gone down the road, taken this course of action against someone who helped them like numerous individuals and families in tough situations.

John Roberts: Art, these two men in question Anthony flag and Maurice Robinson, looking at the complaints, very similar in the stories and allegation that is Bishop Long became spiritual and personal advisers. That they were involved in this covenant ceremony. That they traveled extensively across the country and around the world with bishop long.

And there are numerous allegations here that he engaged in sexual conduct with them and here's one allegation here. It says, "Defendant Long  has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using the authority as bishop to bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship." The allegations here, very detailed.

Franklin: And John, let's talk about those two men making the allegations. These are plaintiffs in lawsuits who are not innocent victims. They're men on the wrong side of the law several times before and includes charging with breaking into Bishop Long's office in June to steal items such as jewelry and property that they could get cash, cash for so let your viewers be the judge of their actions. We can't get into individual demands. That's part of the legal battle.

Roberts: Right.

Franklin: That's a battle that our legal defense team will have to respond to at some point.

Roberts: The break-in is detailed in the lawsuit. Their attorney says that they were lashing out at bishop long in that break-in that they stole personal items from him to hurt him for what he had done to them.

Franklin: This is actually, John, a case of retaliation and a shake-down for money by men with serious credibility issues trying to mount their own defense. This is something that went from 48 hours of contact with the attorney flinging outrageous demands to this dog-and-pony show we are seeing that began yesterday.

Chetry: Can you explain what the nature of the relationship was prior to the allegations being made, prior to the alleged break-ins? What was Bishop Long's relationship with these two teens?

Franklin: They were young men part of the program at new birth and outside of that I can't speak to a relationship they had with Bishop Long. They also were employed by the church as church employs a number of young people and others.

Chetry: When you say you can't speak to the nature of it, what of these e-mails and text messages that seem to indicate there was, at least, you know, some significant contact?

Franklin: We are getting information from you guys in the media and responding to Kiran, we have not even seen the lawsuit ourselves so that's something that our attorneys have to go through and they'll look at it. They'll respond to it in the appropriate form.

Chetry: And meantime, when's been the reaction of the congregation? This is a church with at least 25,000 members. A big part of the community there. What is the reaction?

Franklin: Oh, Kiran. Last night, it was a very spirit-filled worship service from a church family that loves its spiritual leader very much. Bishop Long has done not only good thing but great support throughout the world and drawing strength from his family, the new birth families, friends and supporters standing with him.

Roberts: Do you deny, though, art, that Bishop Long had a very close relationship with the two men in question and traveled extensively with him?

Franklin: A number of people travel with Bishop and he knows them. But listen. There are a lot of things, John, out there being said and before rushing to any judgment on bishop long and this court of public opinion taking place right now, really do hope that you would look at these guy who is are throwing mud and just consider the source.

Roberts: Sure.

Franklin: We'll learn a lot more.

Roberts: Obviously, looking at all aspects of this case but did Bishop Long ever share a bedroom with either one of these men?

Franklin: That is one of the allegations that we learned through the media that's being made by the attorneys and something that the defense team will have to respond to.

Roberts: You don't have a response at this point?

Franklin: I do not have a response for that. That's something the defense team would have to respond to.

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soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Sabrina

    Believe whatever you want, but ONE thing is very true, the Christian Community suffers. The Catholic Church has had it's share of scandal, and we are not exempt from it. During these trying times, let us band together, pray for all concerned, and continue to hold up the blood stained banner of Jesus Christ. Peace and love to all.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JOE

    If you have nothing to hide, or lie about it would be very easy to answer those questions no very easy, but "Long" is wrong, fess up, move foward. God knows

    September 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Leon

    "da judge": the one down here might vindicate, but the one up there may not. Police yourself. Leave god out of it! 😀

    September 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jean

    If they could break into his office and pilfer as a result of their then 'terrible situation', then they could always refrain from sucking his penis. There is no way two college studs who are 21yr old could be swindled into sucking a pastors penis for whatever reason unless they are mentally handicapped.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jean

    As adults, they would most likely had blackmailed the pastor if it truly occured(since they seek financial settlement). Taking him to court would be either because its not true or they were paid to take him to court(probably by people who disagree with the pastors view).

    September 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vince

    Whatever is done in darkness always comes to light. If this were just one person, I'd be more skeptical about the allegations...but it's at 3 right now...who knows how many more. Either way it's a sad situation because even it if comes out not to be true, his reputation is still tarnished. These types of allegations just never go away even if the person is innocent...most of us are like..ok something had to have happened even if it wasn't all what they say happened. I'm not sure why these guys would have a reason to lie...that's what I'm struggling with...if they were on the payroll, traveling and everything...why would they have to make up this story? Unless I'm missing something they had it made...getting paid, wined and dined, and getting some gay lovin'...

    September 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jean

    Obviously driving in such an expensive car and living in such an expensive house means he might be a fake. That still doesn't mean he did what he is accused for.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maria

    Jean, finally you said something that makes sense...yes, he is innocent until proven guilty (or at least that's what our judicial system states) Sadly, that's not how we as humans, judge anybody else.

    September 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ed to Sabrina

    Contrary to popular opinion, church abuse and scandal isn't indigenous to catholic church or christain communities but occurs across denominations regardless of religious affliations.(:-)

    September 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sandi

    Before anyone jumps on my posts, i meant to conclude all are wrong if this is true. I attend an Atlanta church that is the product of New Birth and prayer is needed for everyone in this situation. Until I am shown differently, Bishop Long is innocent and should be treated as such.

    September 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sheila

    It's very surprising to me to hear this on the news, for which, I see Bishop Long by listerning to him as he preached the
    gospel. Its a hurtful thing to hear about this type of things about a person such as Bishop Long, also, no one really knows he's really guity except him, God, and the two guys that claim this situation. I feel for him and the family, I pray and hope that the law will find Bishop Long innocent and that him and his family can put all this behind them. I hope the people that been coming to his church and watching him on tv will feel the same way and be in their prays as well.

    September 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jason

    How can CNN.com post this? The spelling and grammar is atrocious! Hire an editor or stick to TV!

    September 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pam Jackson

    IF this is true then he SHOULD BE SENT TO PRISON–PERIOD!!

    September 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. beverly

    Bishop Long should not have tken any trips with any young people, without his wife/family. No one in there right mind, would not place theirselves in any situation as this. Hopefully, his "Macho Body will catch with his "BRAINS."

    September 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tim

    I THINK THE WHOLE THING IS VERY VERY SAD,I PRAY THAT IN THE END OF ALL OF THIS ,THAT TRUTH WILL PREVAIL.CHRIST WALKED THIS EARTHED PREACHING LOVE LOVE EVERYBODY I SEE NO LOVE IN ALL OF THIS NONE @ALL.FOD FOR THOUGHT JESUS RODE IN ON A DONKEY NO SWORD IN HAND. FOOD FOR THOUGHT.BLESSINGS TO ALL.

    September 27, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
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