Aug 28, 2011





Atlanta (AJC) - In a letter to his congregation, Bishop Eddie Long said he will continue to "honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality" after two former church members came forward with new details about their relationship with the charismatic pastor.

It's unclear whether Long is legally bound to maintain that confidentiality if Jamal Parris, 24, and Spencer LeGrande, 23, in fact breached the settlement agreement with the bishop and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Both men said their decision to speak out likely would invalidate the deal, costing them undisclosed monetary rewards.

Since the settlement was sealed, there's no way of knowing what was expected of Long and his accusers.

The two former "armor bearers" sued the Lithonia preacher last September alleging he “uses monetary funds from the accounts of New Birth and other corporate and non-profit corporate accounts to entice the young men with cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics.”

Each claim that, once they reached the age of consent, Long coerced them into sexual relationships.

Regardless of his legal rights, the bishop does not appear eager to counter the revelations disclosed by his former charges, who talked exclusively last week to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and our reporting partner, Channel 2 Action News.

"All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court," Long said in the letter posted on New Birth's website. "The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry."

The 58-year-old pastor, who on Sunday will celebrate his 24th year at New Birth with a special appearance by Bishop T.D. Jakes, said he "will not be diverted from the important work of the ministry."

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