LITHONIA, Ga. (CBS/WGCL) Bishop Eddie Long's flock of parishioners spoke out in in support of their pastor Wednesday morning, after reports of allegations made by two men, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20, Tuesday that Long abused his position by coercing them into sexual relationships when they were teenage members of his congregation.
"We don't believe it," says Tonia Sawyer, a member of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church where the outspoken, anti-gay pastor presides.
Flagg and Robinson filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Court Tuesday accusing the pastor of seducing them with lavish gifts such as cars, money, clothes, international trips, jewelry and access to celebrities when they were 17-and 18-year-old members of the pastor's Lithonia, Ga., church reports CBS affiliate WGCL.
But some churchgoers of Long's 30,000 member congregation seem to think the lawsuit has no validity.
"I know it's all lies," member Warren Allen told the station.
Attorney BJ Bernstein , who is representing the two plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against Long, claims there could be more victims and says she can prove the allegations.
"Some of these sexual relations not only occurred on these trips, they occurred in that church," said Bernstein.
Long's attorney, Craig Gillen says he "categorically denies the allegations."
"We find it unfortunate that these two young men would take this course of action," Gillen said.
Gillen believes the men's accusations are linked to a break-in that Robinson was arrested for, allegedly stealing items out of Long's office back in June, reports WGCL.
Long was appointed pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987 when the church had about 150 members. In less than four years, the congregation grew to more than 8,000 members, many of whom reside in DeKalb County, home to many affluent African-Americans. Athletes and entertainers claim membership at the church, and among its prominent clergy is Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
A church spokesman said there could be a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
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