- (Photo: AP Images / John Amis)
Vanessa G. Long has filed for a divorce from her husband, televangelist Bishop Eddie Long, according to a statement given by her attorney Friday morning.
Mrs. Long asked for privacy and respect in the statement, but provided no explanation of her decision to file for divorce:
"It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly. I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter."
Last fall, two young Atlanta men accused Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., of coaxing them into having sex with him. The young men, who were then underage and members of New Birth and the Longfellows Youth Academy, claimed they received money, expensive gifts and trips from the bishop in exchange for sexual acts. A fifth accuser eventually stepped forward making similar claims.
Bishop Long has long been a vocal opponent of homosexuality. He and his church once led a nationally televised march condemning homosexual behavior as immoral and contrary to biblical teachings.
In a sermon given before the allegations emerged, Long said, "You cannot say that you were born this way. I don't care what scientists say. If you are saying that you were born this way, then you are saying that 'God, you are a liar.' You can be converted."
The megachurch leader admitted to taking the then-teenage boys on trips overseas on his private jet. Bishop Long also admitted through church attorneys to sharing hotel rooms with the teen boys individually, but denied any sexual misconduct.
The bishop settled the lawsuit with the five accusers in the spring, but is currently being sued by past church members who claim Long encouraged them to make investments with businessman Ephraim Taylor, who was also sued for allegations of coordinating a Ponzi scheme with church member's funds.
Many parishioners at the New Birth Missionary Baptist church continue to show support for their pastor. As recently as September, the church held an event celebrating Long’s 24th Anniversary with the church.
A representative of New Birth Missionary Baptist church declined to grant a comment to The Christian Post Friday, saying the filing is "private" and the church is asking for "respect for the Long family as it is a private family matter."