Jamal Parris is telling the world about his love/hate relationship with Bishop Eddie Long and how he’s coping with the aftermath.
Fox 5 Atlanta recently caught up with Jamal, one of three men who filed a lawsuit against Eddie last week, after leaving a Colorado grocery store.
The man was reluctant to speak to cameras at first, but he eventually opened up to a reporter about his relationship with the spiritual leader. Jamal explained to Fox that while Eddie entered his life as a father figure, Eddie used that emotional tie to prey on his victims.
“His presence alone is seduction to young men without a father. You look at him and he’s everything you want to be,” said Jamal, who met Eddie when he was 14. “So it becomes, ‘If I want to continue to feel this love and this power, I’ll do whatever my dad wants me to do.’”
Jamal alleges that Eddie plied boys with money, cars, jewelry, trips and, in some cases, homes. The lawsuit also claims that Eddie used passages from the Bible in his seduction. But his alleged victim said the relationship itself was the strongest tool at the preacher’s disposal.
“You’re afraid to lose your father. You are afraid that if you tell him ‘No,’” Jamal explained. “So you end up turning into something that you never thought you’d be which is a slave to a man that you love.”
Jamal said that while these relationships started when the victims were in their early teens, they didn’t turn sexual until the boys reached 16, which is the age of consent in Georgia. By that time, Jamal said the bishop had had years to condition the boys.
Even so, Jamal said Eddie’s advances were very much unwanted and the experience has left him scarred. “I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head. I cannot forget the smell of his cologne,” he said. "And I cannot forget the way that he made me cry many nights when I drove in his car on the way home, not able to take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off of my body.”
When the bishop was done with a conquest, he’d dump the older boys and start looking for younger guys. According to Jamal, being cast aside like that was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to face. Although he tried to address the matter directly with Eddie, he could not get through to the bishop for resolution. However, that didn’t stop the victim from leveling a parting shot at him.
“That man can not look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain,” Jamal said before addressing the bishop directly. “You are not a man, you are a monster.”
– Sonya Eskridge