Bishop Eddie Long Denies Sexual Abuse as Plaintiffs' Lawyer Promises More Evidence

Eddie Long denies accusations; plaintiffs' lawyer promises more evidence.

September 22, 2010, 10:15 AM

Sept. 22, 2010— -- A third man has come forward alleging that he was sexually abused by the Atlanta mega-church bishop already under fire in two similar lawsuits.

Jamal Parris, 23, alleged in a suit filed today that Bishop Eddie Long used his private plane to fly him around the world -- from Los Angeles to Trinidad to New York -- and sexually abused him along the way. Parris alleges in the documents, obtained by ABC News, that the bishop would request he be nude while in his presence and would request "sexual massages" and "oral sodomy" when they traveled.

Parris joins two other young men, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, who also say the bishop recruited them into the youth ministry and then forced sex upon them.

His accusers believe more young men will come forward from a youth ministry that numbered in the hundreds. The young men say that many people at the church who were close to Long knew what was going on but covered for him and kept quiet for years.

Although the allegations against New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Long appear damning, some church members say they refuse to believe they could be true.

But B.J. Bernstein, the lawyer for Robinson and Flagg, has said that she has photos, texts and e-mails that show a relationship between her clients and the bishop.

One of those photos viewed by ABC News depicts Long posing in what appears to be a bathroom stall in a red muscle shirt. The photo was sent via e-mail in November 2008 and is signed, "Eddie L Long, Amazed by His Grace."

"What pastor in his right mind sends a picture from himself, posing in his bathroom in a muscle shirt?" Bernstein said. "None that I know of. Especially one who is a committed homophobe."

Long has been an outspoken critic of what he has described in his writing as "fractured families," "with openly gay family members and relationships."

Anti-Gay Bishop Faces Sexual Abuse Allegations by Young Men

Long, who once marched the streets of Atlanta to protest same-sex marriage, is considered a major figure in the black church. His New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has approximately 25,000 members, and sits on 240 acres in Lithonia, Ga.

It is the same church that hosted Coretta Scott King's funeral in 2006, a ceremony that some civil rights leaders refused to attend because Long is so anti-gay.

According to separate lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, Ga., by Robinson, Flagg and now Parris, Long conducted what they called private spiritual ceremonies in which he "coerced certain young male members and employees" into sexual acts and relationships.

Now in their 20s, the men claim in their lawsuits that they were teenagers when Long showered them with "cars, clothes, jewelry and electronics," flew them across the world in private jets and booked them into luxury hotels, all the while pushing them into a sexual relationship.

"The allegations are that sexual things started to happen at 17 and 18 years old," Bernstein said.

Even though 17 is above the age of consent in Georgia, Robinson and Flagg claim that the bishop violated his "fiduciary duty as [their] spiritual advisor."

Long's attorney, Craig Gillen, countered the men's claims, writing in a statement that "Bishop Eddie Long adamantly denies the allegations.

"It's unfortunate the two young men have chosen to take this course of action," the statement said, adding that Long's legal team is reviewing the charges and plans to respond.

Church Members Defend Embattled Bishop Against Allegations of Sexual Abuse

In the lawsuit, Robinson and Flagg claim that Long used Bible Scripture to "reinforce the God-like connection between himself and the young [men]."

The accusations, according to court documents, also claim that Long would try to block sexual relationships the young men had with women.

The allegations have especially surprised the community that knows Long best.

Church members coming out of Bible study said they simply didn't believe the allegations, speaking of Long's love and passion for his wife.

Atlanta-area radio host Frank Ski, a 12-year-member of Long's church, told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal that he had "extreme support" for the man he's known for more than a decade.

"It's difficult for me because Bishop Long and I are very close," he told the paper. "I'm one of these people who's really old school. When you're a friend and I support you, I support you. Right now it's allegations."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events