Atlanta: The mega church pastor accused
of using a program to groom young men for sexual relationships
billed the boys academy as a "rite of passage," teaching
students about interest rates, Social Security and sexual
control, even making them carry a card that listed three
things they could be doing rather than having sex.
Pastor Eddie Long, an outspoken opponent of gay
marriage, is now being sued by two young men who attended his
church`s LongFellows Youth Academy and claim they were lured
into trysts with cars, jewellery and cash.
Two other men have made similar accusations -
including one who filed a lawsuit yesterday. That lawsuit,
provided to The Associated Press, said Long coerced him into a
sexual relationship during a trip to Kenya, at one point
telling the young man "I will be your dad."
Long and his attorney have denied all the
accusations, with Long remaining largely silent. Tomorrow, he
will speak publicly to his congregation at church for the
first time since the lawsuits were filed.
The men, who were 17 and 18 at the time, say Long
recruited them for the academy after they joined New Birth
Missionary Baptist Church.
"It became a place where the bishop could learn the
intimate details about these young men," said attorney B J
Bernstein, who filed the civil lawsuits against Long.
The academy trains about 100 students during a
four-month session for USD 500 a person. Long and his board of
advisers, which includes National Football League star Ray
Lewis, created a daunting regimen.
Long, himself a stocky and muscular man, demands
the students run two miles in less than 15 minutes and bench
press and squat their weight. They even have to write a report
on the documentary "Super Size Me," which chronicles a man who
eats only fast food during every meal for a month.