Bishop Eddie Long, in his first public statement since he was sued by three men who alleged he coerced them into having sexual relationships, said he has been "through storms and my faith has always sustained me."
" I am anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and I will do so," he said in a statement released by his spokesman. " However, my lawyers have counseled patience at this time. But let me be clear; the charges against me and New Birth are false. I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply. "
He asked for patience and said he plans to respond to the charges during services at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday.
Earlier, his attorney, Craig Gillen, took to the air to defend his client against charges he used his pastoral influence to coerce three men into having sexual relations.
Gillen was interviewed by Roland Martin for the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. It was the first public interview by Long's attorneys since three lawsuits were filed against the head of the Atlanta mega-church.
"These false allegations are an attack on Bishop Long personally. They are an attack on New Birth and all of the 25,000 good people who attend that church, and it's an attack on the mentoring program that has helped thousands of young men," Gillen said.
Gillen also read Long's statement on the air.
"Let me be clear. The charges against me and New Birth are false," Long's statement said.
Gillen said Long, a married father of four, was "chomping at the bit" to speak out on the the show, but that he had advised against doing so.
Gillen questioned the character of some of the men who filed the lawsuits. At least one, Maurice Robinson, was arrested in connection with a June break-in at the church. He said lawyers are trying to get a copy of a tape of the burglary.
Gillen said the lawsuits have "ignited a firestorm against this good man." He implied the motives of the lawsuits were money.
"The photos don't corroborate these charges. [Bishop Long] is a health advocate, he's a weight lifter. He's a fella, who's gonna go to work and he's gonna have on a muscle shirt. And you know he may show up in church in a muscle shirt. There's nothing really in those photographs that seems to me corroborative of these allegations." source