The legal ordeal for New Birth pastor Bishop Eddie Long and his accusers is finally over; although, questions still linger about the pastor’s guilt or innocence.
The lawsuit, which listed Eddie, his mega-church and the LongFellows Youth Academy as defendants, was settled Thursday for an unspecified amount.
“After a series of discussions, all parties have decided to resolve the civil case out of court. This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry,” read a statement on the New Birth website.
For some, the financial agreement between Eddie and his accusers doesn’t answer the question as to whether the pastor—whose photos in tight “muscle” shirts did nothing for the public’s perception of him—is guilty or innocent of inappropriate relations with teenage boys.
“A settlement to me, makes you look guilty,” former New Birth member Barbara Chumbler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
One Twitter follower who noticed “Eddie Long” was a hot topic on the social media site, asked, “WHY is Eddie Long STILL trending….? That settlement is not gon get him a ‘Get out Hell free card’ so…”
However, several members of Eddie’s congregation remain steadfast in the belief that he was innocent of sexually molesting the four men as teenagers.
“It doesn’t make me think he’s guilty or anything. I decided when this came out that I loved my pastor unconditionally. Even if he came out and grabbed the mic and said, ‘I’m guilty,’ it wouldn’t change the way I feel about him,” Kamelya Hinson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
No matter what the bishop’s supporters or dissenters have to say about the decision to settle, he and his team believed “this resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel.”
Eddie’s four accusers, Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, have had little to say to the public since the allegations first surfaced. According to the men’s representative, B.J. Bernstein, they aren’t looking to become chatter boxes now and won’t be speaking on the matter “now or in the future.”
It’s unclear whether the bishop, who first responded to his charges from his pulpit, will address the settlement from that podium on Sunday morning.
—Tracy L. Scott