Bishop Eddie Long, head of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has announced he is taking time off to work on his family, which comes on the heels of his wife Vanessa filing for divorce, reports CNN. The church issued a statement Friday (Dec. 2), attributed to Vanessa, that says she is withdrawing the divorce petition, but her attorney says she is going forward.
Last spring, Long settled a lawsuit filed by four young men, accusing him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were teenagers. Long denies the allegations and says they are not the reason he is taking time off.
The filed divorce petition says Vanessa “is entitled to a divorce upon grounds that the marriage between the
parties is irretrievably broken, there being no hope of reconciliation
of the parties, and it being in the best interest of all parties
concerned that this marriage be terminated by divorce.”
Meanwhile, the statement issued from the New Birth Missionary Church says, “Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my
petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long. I love my
husband. I believe in him and admire his strength, and courage.”
The lawsuit against Long alleged that he used church funds to entice these young men with cars, clothes, jewelry and electronics. Two of the accusers say they are writing a book about their experiences. And one of the accusers, Jamal Parris, tells CNN affiliate WSB, “It’s just not enough anymore. I thought I could cover the pain up. I thought I could move, start over and everything will go away. I was terribly wrong.”