The lawsuit between Bishop Eddie Long and the four young men who accused him of sexual misconduct is close to being resolved out of court, said the judge overseeing the case on Friday.
After three months of mediation, the case is within “field goal range” of being settled, said Judge Johnny Panos to reporters, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Panos talked to the media with the aim of clearing misinformation being reported about the case.
Since February, the attorneys of both sides have been meeting with mediator Gino Brogden, a former Fulton County Superior Court judge in Georgia, to hammer out a compromise.
Last fall, four young men filed lawsuits against Long, the pastor of the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, Ga., accusing him of abusing his spiritual authority to lure them into sexual relationships.
The plaintiffs, who were all former members of Long’s church, alleged that the preacher would take them on overnight trips, give them expensive gifts and would engage in intimate sexual acts with them. Two of the men came forward first to file lawsuits, followed by the other two men after news broke about the lawsuits. Besides Long, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and LongFellows Youth Academy are also named defendants.
Throughout the ordeal, Long has adamantly denied the allegations and has refused to comment about the case. He has also kept a low profile since the lawsuit, canceling a slew of public speaking engagements after the case became public.
Judge Panos said Friday that he is unsure if more information will ever be released about the Eddie Long lawsuit, being that the mediation is done confidentiality, according The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Besides the lawsuit, Long has also drawn negative attention over the Senate investigation, led by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), for alleged financial misconduct. Long subscribes to the “prosperity gospel,” a highly criticized theology that teaches material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.
Grassley, the ranking member of the Committee on Finance, had led an investigation on whether six Christian ministries were abusing their non-profit status in the way they handled their finances.
In January, after three years, Grassley concluded the Senate investigation with only two of the six ministries – Joyce Meyer Ministries and Benny Hinn’s World Healing Center Church – fully cooperating. The other four ministries – Creflo Dollar’s World Changers Church International, Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Church, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and Without Walls International Church – either did not provide responses or provided incomplete ones. No penalties were handed out.