ATLANTA (CBS/WGCL/AP) Dabara S. Houston, ex-wife of Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta megachurch pastor accused of sexual misconduct, claimed the pastor physically abused her when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with their only child, according to divorce documents.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Houston said she was subjected to "cruel treatment" and was fearful of Long's "violent and vicious temper," as indicated in Fulton County Superior Court records. The documents reportedly state that Houston said she was forced to "flee" the couple's Fairburn home with her son "in order to ensure their safety."
Houston and Long married in 1981 but separated two years later, according to the papers. A settlement was reached in March 1985, granting custody of the couple's son, who was 2-years-old at the time, to the mother. Long received visitation rights every other weekend, according to the paper.
Craig Gillen, Long's attorney said, "The allegations of a divorce pleading that is nearly 30 years old are absolutely 'not true,'" reports the Journal-Constitution.
The outspoken, anti-gay pastor has been the center of much scrutiny since four men accused him of using his "spiritual authority" to manipulate them into sexual relationships when they were teenage members of his church. Jamal Parris, one of the four men who filed a lawsuit against Long, told a TV interviewer outside a convenience store in Colorado Tuesday that the pastor "manipulated us from childhood."
Long's attorney has criticized his client's accusers and their lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, on Wednesday for "attempting to try their lawsuits in the media." Gillen also asked high profile investigator T.J. Ward to join his legal team last week, reports CBS affiliate WGCL. Ward said he would leave no stone unturned in search of the truth.
"This is an attack on Bishop Eddie Long and the church. Our plans are to take each allegation and look into them and behind them and look at the validity," Ward said.
Despite the alarming allegations, churchgoers of Long's nearly 30,000-member congregation have showered him in support; some have evened called the men's allegations lies.
Parris along with Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande, who are all now their 20s, claim to have had sexual relationships with Long when they were 17 and 18, according to the lawsuits. However, as the age of consent in Georgia is 16, Long will apparently not face criminal charges.
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