Image: Bishop Eddie Long
John Amis  /  AP
Bishop Eddie Long is being sued by four men who claim that he abused his "spiritual authority" and gave them cars, clothes, cash and trips to lure them into sexual relationships.
msnbc.com news services
updated 9/29/2010 10:58:20 AM ET 2010-09-29T14:58:20

One of the young men accusing megachurch bishop Eddie Long of coercing him into a sexual relationship told a TV interviewer that he loved the pastor and considered him a father figure, but still called him a "predator" and a "monster."

"I loved him and I'm always going to have love for the things he taught us, but how he left us hurt worse than anything I ever felt in my life," Jamal Parris told Atlanta's Fox TV affiliate WAGA in an interview broadcast Tuesday. "This man turned his back on us when he had no more need for us. That's not a father, that's a predator."

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Parris, 23, is one of four men suing the TV preacher in state court, claiming that he abused his "spiritual authority" and gave them cars, clothes, cash and trips to lure them into sexual relationships while they were teen members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta.

Parris described an ongoing emotional struggle.

'He made me cry'
"I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head and I cannot forget the smell of his cologne and I cannot forget the way he made me cry many nights when I drove in his cars on the way home," Parris said. "I'm not able to take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off my body."

When a reporter approached Parris outside a convenience store in Colorado, he at first was reluctant to speak. Then he told WAGA that Long exploited his dreams for a father figure in exchange for sexual favors.

Long's attorney, Craig Gillen, criticized Parris and his lawyer for "attempting to try their lawsuits in the media."

"There are rules on how civil litigation is to take place and how counsel should conduct themselves, we intend to follow those rules," Gillen said in a statement, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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During services at his church Sunday, Long turned to biblical terms to portray himself as an underdog but didn't outright deny the allegations.

"I feel like David against Goliath. But I got five rocks, and I haven't thrown one yet," said Long, who added that while he doesn't claim to be perfect, "I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television."

In the Fox interview, a vehement Parris said Long "manipulated us from childhood" under the guise of providing a fatherly influence. Parris was referring to himself and the other accusers, Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande. They are in their 20s now but were 17 and 18 when they had sexual relationships with Long, the lawsuits say. Long does not face criminal charges.

"This was our father and we loved him," Parris said.

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Parris' attorney declined comment.

Speaking to Fox, Parris said Long is not being truthful to his followers. They include athletes, politicians and entertainers in the 25,000-member Lithonia church that has a $50 million, 10,000-seat cathedral and more than 40 ministries. Long, who has been New Birth pastor since 1987, has spoken out loudly against gay marriage.

"That man cannot look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain," he said. Addressing a comment to Long, he said, "you are not a man you are a monster."

Also Tuesday, a county prosecutor said Long asked for charges to be dropped against Maurice Robinson in August, about two months after authorities say he and Anthony Boyd broke into the megachurch.

The district attorney's office declined Long's request to drop the charges and is still investigating the case.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Pastor in gay sex scandal ready to ‘fight’

  1. Transcript of: Pastor in gay sex scandal ready to ‘fight’

    ANN CURRY, co-host: And now to the scandal that has rocked one of the country's biggest megachurches. Bishop Eddie Long addressed his congregation Sunday, vowing to fight allegations that he coerced young men into having sex with him. NBC 's Ron Mott is in Decatur , Georgia , with the latest on this story. Ron , good morning.

    RON MOTT reporting: Hey, Ann , good morning to you. Eddie Long got a hero's welcome at Sunday services. Though there was a mix of opinion by his members about whether he should stay or go, he made it pretty clear which option he's taking. The welcome was warm for Pastor Eddie Long , hand in hand Sunday morning with his wife. Accused of pressuring young male church members into sex, Long told his megachurch of 25,000 members he isn't leaving them unless they're leaving him, and he left little doubt about his future.

    Bishop EDDIE LONG (New Birth Church): I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television. That's not me. That is not me. I am not a perfect man, but this thing I'm going to fight.

    MOTT: After denying the allegations through an attorney last week, Long broke his silence about the spate of lawsuits filed against him by three former members of Long's Atlanta area congregation, 21-one-year-old Anthony Flagg , 23-year-old Jamal Parris , and 20-year-old Maurice Robinson . Robinson was charged this year in connection with a burglary at Long's church. He's yet to enter a plea. A fourth lawsuit against Long was filed late Friday by 22-year-old Spencer LeGrande , a former member of a satellite church in North Carolina .

    Bishop LONG: By the counsel of my lawyers, they have not -- advised me not to try this case in the media. I am not going to try this case in the media. It will be tried in the court of justice and dealt with in the court of justice. And please understand because that's the only place I think I'll get justice.

    MOTT: The men claim Long, who travels in first-class style -- Rolls-Royces , private jets, proximity to presidents -- showered them with gifts, jobs and special attention as teenagers, calling them spiritual sons before coaxing them into sexual acts after they reached the legal age of consent. An outspoken critic of homosexuality, Long also sent young church members pictures of himself, said the men's attorney.

    Ms. BJ BERNSTEIN (Attorney for Men Suing Bishop Eddie Long): When I heard the stories and I saw how they acted in a whole -- saw how they said it -- and they did it all privately and individually -- it's that gut feeling you know, and any jury is going to know they're telling the truth.

    MOTT: Nationally known public relations professional Terrie Williams says she was struck by what Long didn't say.

    Ms. TERRIE WILLIAMS (President, Terrie Williams Agency): What's most important is the notion of a young person having their innocence taken away and being traumatized. Whether he confesses to that or not, that's an issue that I think should be on the front burner.

    MOTT: Whatever the truth, Long appears ready for the battle of his life.

    Bishop LONG: I feel like David against Goliath , but I got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet.

    MOTT: Now, prosecutors here in DeKalb County , Georgia , say they do not plan to open a criminal investigation as all of the accuser -- all of the accusers were of the legal age of consent at the time of the alleged sexual contact.

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