Two men are finally speaking out about their homosexual experiences with Bishop Eddie Long, even though it could mean losing millions in settlement money.
Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, two of the four men who accused Long of luring them into a sexual relationship, are breaking their silence despite promises to remain quiet after settling their lawsuit against the megachurch pastor out of court earlier in May.
Long had purportedly given the young men cash payments in exchange for their silence, hoping to put the matter behind him.
But the two, former members of the LongFellows Youth Academy whom Long had selected to mentor, are stepping out into the public once again and bringing Long back into the spotlight.
“I thought I could cover the pain up,” Parris shared in an exclusive interview with CNN Atlanta affiliate WSB, “I thought I could move, start over and everything [would] go away.”
“I was terribly wrong.”
Though Long has denied all allegations of sexual abuse and also denied using funds from his New Birth Missionary Baptist church to entice the boys with “cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics,” his accusers remained adamant on their claims and told WSB that they plan to write a tell-all book about what really happened.
Writing the book, the two men say, will hopefully help them heal from the tragedy. “You ain’t ready for the secrets,” Parris said in the interview. “I don’t care if this book sells one copy. But if it’s just for me, this is what my life looked like, this is my voice for the first time.”
Growing up without a father figure, Parris longed for love, he told the station. “To have a man love me for just who I was. I just had to be me, and love him back,” he stated about Long, who sought to capitalize on Parris’ emptiness.
The close relationship between the two was displayed on Parris’ arm, which featured a “JL” tattoo. “JL” stood for “Jamal Long,” Parris revealed also saying that Long had been with him when he got the tattoo.
LeGrande had more stories to tell as well. “Ten years of details, each person,” he said. “It’s gonna be a book full of ‘wows’ and ‘ahh’s’ and ‘Oh my Gods.’”
Ready to sacrifice their settlement money and divulge all of the explicit details of their relationship with Long, the boys were more than ready to speak.
“I’m going to tell the world – money does not buy happiness,” LeGrande said. “When you sleep at night, the problems are still there. The money stuff, who cares about the number.”
“I feel like burning [the money]” he added.
Both were tired of the lies and wanted to expose Long for who he really was. They were angry at the fact that Long was still not only maintaining his innocence but also preserving the respect of his congregation despite the incident.
When the scandal broke last fall, Long told his 25,000 plus members, “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 for is your patience as we continue to categorically deny each and every one of these ugly charges.”
Long compared himself with David being attacked by Goliath when the young men accused him of acts he purportedly did not commit.
“If you read the Bible again, mister, we are David,” Le Grande told the CNN affiliate. “We weren’t more than kids who went to the church to learn about God.”
Long, however, continues to stand by his claim of innocence and said in a statement on Thursday after the two men went public, “Unfortunately, we are in the media again and people are wondering what I am going to say. All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court.”
“The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
“I will continue to honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality and restraint as it relates to the resolution of the civil litigation and will not be diverted from the important work of the ministry.”
The Georgia pastor had just returned from a South Africa trip “where thousands were blessed and more than 700 people gave their lives to Christ.”