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 long trips but said it could not confirm or deny whether anything inappropriate took place.
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 four men allege that Long used his influence, lavish trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into relationships.
The Lithonia megachurch, in its response filed in DeKalb County State Court Monday, acknowledges that the men accompanied Long on trips, in some cases overseas, but said it couldn’t explain the nature of relationships that may have existed between Long and the men.
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.