Mega-Church pastor Bishop Eddie Long, who runs a 25,000-member place of worship, has refuted alleged claims against him by three young men who filed suit over alleged sexual misconduct. “The charges against me and New Birth are false,” said Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., in a Thursday (Sept. 23) statement. “I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply.” Long said he could not elaborate, on the advice of his lawyers, but would address his congregation on Sunday. “My faith is strong and the truth will emerge,” he added in the statement. “All I ask is for your patience as we continue to categorically deny each and every one of these ugly charges.” In two suits filed on Tuesday and a third on Wednesday, the men–ages 20, 21 and 23–accused Long of using his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities. Craig Gillen, Long’s attorney, says the pastor “categorically denies the allegations.” When asked about a possible motive for the accusations, Gillen referred to a break-in at Long’s office in June.
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