The settlement negotiations in lawsuits against Bishop Eddie Long were speeding along but may have hit some bumps. These bumps are now causing the judge to begin the process of trial setting. Four young men have sued Long, the church and the Long Fellows Youth Academy alleging Long coerced them into having sexual relations.Just a week ago we reported that the case was almost a done deal in: Bishop Eddie Long Is Positive The End Is Near On His Case
The parties have been involved in mediation. The judge in the case told Channel 2 Action News that he is scheduling trial for late summer, the TV station reported Thursday. The threat of a trial appears to conflict with an earlier statement by State Court Judge Johnny Panos.
Sexual coercion accusations, such as the ones leveled at Bishop Eddie Long, can be difficult to prove in court, but cases have been won against other religious leaders, experts say. There must be proof that the religious leader compromised the will of his victim. Proving that in the Long case will be difficult, because the plaintiffs were of legal age of consent, and don’t assert they were forced to submit, made drunk or drugged.
It is one more case of parents needing to be aware of how to protect their children in the presence of questionable ministry. Read: 10 Steps To Prevent Sex Abuse In Churches
Three defendants charge that Long used his mega-church position to build a strong personal bond with them, by taking them on trips and giving them lavish gifts. They said the church leader convinced them that sex with him was part of a healthy spiritual life. They also have claimed that Long violated his legal responsibility as a spiritual adviser. Long adamantly denies the allegations.
In recent months, Bishop Long’s congregation has shrunk and funds have diminished.