Aug 24, 2011

Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande speak to Channel 2 Action News

MIAMI (WSBTV) -- For the first time since they settled their case against Bishop Eddie Long, two of the young men who accused him of sexual abuse are speaking out.

Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande agreed to their first sit-down interview with Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer inside a Miami hotel late last week.

Parris and LeGrande and three other young men entered into a confidential settlement with Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist church three months ago.

By sitting down to talk with Fleischer, they risk losing that money, but said it's worth it because it's more important for everyone to know the truth.

Eddie Long accusers break their silence Pt. 1

Eddie Long accusers break their silence Pt. 2

"It's just not enough anymore. I thought I could cover the pain up. I thought I could move, start over and everything will go away. I was terribly wrong," Parris said.

Parris, 24, still bears the scars of abuse he says he suffered at the hands of Long. He is angry and emotional and wants Long to know what he's done to him.

"Before I used to look at you like you were the man. You ran everything, but now I got a voice. Like you got a voice," Parris said.

LeGrande wanted to follow his spiritual father's path and become a preacher. His strong faith in God has given him a sense of calm now.

"I was fatherless, and to have a man love me just for who I was, I didn't have to change myself, I just had to be me, I just had to love him back," he said.

"The hardest part for me is watching somebody who you love destroy himself," LeGrande said.

But the two men do share the most traumatic experience of their young lives. Both said Long manipulated their desperate need for a father into unwanted sexual contact that destroyed the boys they used to be.

"It's the hopeful kid in you like, maybe daddy's gonna be daddy today and maybe this thing done weighed enough on him that I can't let my kids go out there like that. I'm not gonna let my kids take this," Parris said.

Once the four lawsuits were filed last September, Parris says he watched on TV as Long addressed his congregation for the first time.

"I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet," Long said in his sermon that day.

"I couldn't even stop crying cause I was angry. And the way he walked off and the way I saw the people stand up and applaud this man, how dare you?" Parris said.

They said all four of the young men who sued Long eventually sat across the table from him together during settlement talks.

Even behind closed doors, they said Long never admitted to any of the abuse, nor did he apologize. But he did settle the case, paying cash to the four young men who sued, plus another who joined in later. For a while they said they felt vindicated.

"Tell me you didn't do it. The case has now been closed. For real? For what? I thought you got five stones?" Parris said.

"If you read the Bible again, mister, we are David. And we definitely did the right thing," LeGrande said. Parris said he loves that he hates Long and hates that he loves him. That torment has led the two young men to start writing their story, every detail, chapter by chapter. They said the book will be as much for themselves as it is for others.

"Is there a lot out there that people still don't know?" Fleischer asked.

"Absolutely," said LeGrande. Parris added, "You ain't ready for the secrets. I don't care if this book sells one copy. But if it's just for me, this is what my life looked like, this is my voice for the first time.”

They want to help others still going through it. And they said writing a book will help them express what they've been through, and help others recognize the warning signs.

"Ten years of details, each person, it's gonna be a book full of 'wow's' and 'ahh's' and 'Oh my God's.'" LeGrande said.

Parris said he’s considered suicide. "I would love to pull a trigger. I would love to take pills and go to sleep, and not have to worry about anything. But I can't, I have a kid on the way. So I have to fight every day to make sure I leave a better name for my son than I do for me."

LeGrande also has a little boy and both men said they want to be better fathers than they had.

"We're trying to help, not just spread the word about a person, we're trying to break people loose about their fear of coming out and speaking," LeGrande said. He said it’s not just teens who are around Long now, but adults who've kept his secrets for years.

"Once you have that much money to pay people and your money's involved in their lifestyle, you have people that's gonna support you no matter if you had a videotape showing it," LeGrande said.

They said the four young men who sued Long are all heterosexual and never had intercourse with him. But the scars of what did happen linger. Both Parris and LeGrande said they understand they are risking their confidential settlement money by speaking about the case. Both said they did not care about that.

Fleischer was able to reach a representative for Long. He declined to comment about the proposed book, or what the young men had to say now.

Thursday on Channel 2 Action News at 5, tune in to hear the young men describe how they said Long manipulated them, and turned the relationships sexual. They also share why they feel more afraid now than while it was happening.


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