ATLANTA (CBS/WGCL) The lawyer for Bishop Eddie Long, one of metro-Atlanta's most beloved pastors, denied claims his client used his position to coerce teenage boys into having sex with him.
Craig Gillen, Long's lawyer, said, "these lawsuits are an attack on the bishop, on New Birth and the people who are members of the church."
The pastor canceled an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday, opting instead to make his first public response to the sex allegations during a service at his 25,000-member megachurch on Sunday, according to Gillen, who appeared on the nationally syndicated radio show in Long's absence.
Gillen also spoke with another radio show, Frank and Wanda Morning Show, claiming he told Long not to appear on the Tom Joyner show. This came after a third young man filed a lawsuit against the megachurch preacher. The suits claim that Long used the power of the pulpit to entice the men, when they were teenagers, into having sex with him in exchange for cars, houses, jewelry and expensive trips.
Long's church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, sent CBS affiliate WGCL a written statement from the pastor:
"I have been through storms and my faith has always sustained me. I am anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and I will do so. However, my lawyers have counseled patience at this time. But let me be clear; the charges against me and New Birth are false. I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply. But my faith is strong and the truth will emerge. All I ask is for your patience as we continue to categorically deny each and every one of these ugly charges. Finally, as I have done for thousands of others over my decades of preaching, I ask for your prayers for me, my family and our church. On Sunday, at New Birth, I will respond to my congregation."