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Bishop Eddie Long Accused of Coercion | News

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Bishop Eddie Long Accused of Coercion

LITHONIA, GA -- Two men are accusing Bishop Eddie Long of exploiting his role as pastor of an Atlanta-area megachurch to coerce them into sexual relationships.

Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21, had been members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.

They say they were only 17 and 18 when Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.

Each filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday. Their attorney, B.J. Bernstein, held a press conference shortly afterward. 

Bernstein described the young men's enrollment in the Longfellow Youth Academy where they ascended to the elite group of young men known as Bishop Long's "Spiritual Sons". 

According to Robinson's written complaint "...Long typically engages in a private spiritual ceremony described as a 'covenant' between himself and each young Spiritual Son..."

"[Long] would use biblical stories to talk about how important it was to follow your leader and master and let them know that the acts they were engaging in did not mean they were homosexual," Bernstein said.

She added that Long told them he was simply "releasing his passion and his love."

Robinson and Flagg detailed numerous alleged incidents where Long engaged in sexual acts with them when he took them on trips across state lines and in a church owned apartment near New Birth. 

In Flagg's case, when he turned 17 he was having trouble getting along with his mom.  He says Long set him up in a house on Golod Way in Lithonia, known to church members as the "Golod House".  Flagg said that's where Long slowly developed a close relationship with him that led to numerous sexual acts.

Long's attorney and parishioners aren't convinced of the allegations.

"Bishop Eddie Long adamantly denies these allegations," Long's attorney Craig Gillen said in a statement.

"We find it unfortunate that these two young men chose to take this course of action," Gillen said. "We will be reviewing the complaints and will respond accordingly."

Bernstein acknowledged that at least one of her clients, Maurice Robinson, was arrested for breaking into New Birth Missionary Baptist Church June 13, 2010 and stealing property.  She said Robinson was lashing out after he learned Bishop Long had other relationships with other "Spiritual Sons".

The lawsuits also name New Birth and the Longfellow Youth Academy as defendants because Bernstein believes some church members and employees were well aware of Long's alleged actions.

She said her clients are not making any on camera appearances until they can tell their stories in depositions and before a judge.