LITHONIA, GA - All lawsuits brought by four young men alleging Bishop Eddie Long of sexual misconduct were officially dismissed "with prejudice" Friday, one day after both sides announced that a settlement had been reached out of court, The Christian Post reports.
Documents confirming the dismissal of Long's case were filed in DeKalb County State Court in Georgia. The four suits were "dismissed with prejudice," meaning the plaintffs in the case are barred from ever bringing the same charges against Long again.
The official status of the lawsuits, all filed in September 2010, is now "closed," according to the court's website.
The accusers in the case, Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, alleged in their lawsuits that the New Birth MIssionary Baptist pastor lured them into sexual relationships by using his position and lavishing them with gifts.
Lawyers for both sides announced that a settlement had been reached out of court in the case. No details were given on the settlement.
A spokesman for Long and his Lithonia, Ga.-based megachurch released a statement confirming the settlement.
"After a series of discussions, all parties involved have decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry," stated Art Franklin.
"As is usually the case when civil lawsuits resolve out of court, we cannot discuss any details regarding the resolution or the resolution process, as they are confidential," he continued.
"The resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel."
Some members of New Birth say they still believe the allegations of sexual misconduct are false and continue to stand by their pastor.
Former member Barbara Chumbler, who still visits the church occasionally, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she always believed the allegations to be false, but acknowledged that "a settlement to me makes you look guilty."
Both sides of the case spent three months in mediation beginning in February. In April, the judge in the case said it was close to being settled but later indicated it was heading to court.
Just weeks prior to revelation of a settlement, the judge said he was looking at a trial date in August or September.
Three of the four suits against Long also listed New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Long Fellows as defendants.
When the allegations of sexual misconduct became public in September, Long told his 25,000-strong congregation and reporters that he would "vigorously" fight against the charges.
"This thing I'm gonna fight," he said during a Sunday service on Sept. 26.
"I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television."
The same day, Long told reporters, "I want this to be dealt in the court of justice and not by public opinion. I will say that I am going to fight, fight very vigorously against these charges."
Meanwhile, folks are wondering if everyone is really happy for Bishop Long after one of the stand out members and servants decided to “turn her keys in.”
Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has left her position as an elder of Bishop Eddie Long’s church just days after the settlement had been reached.
The news was first reported by WSB TV’s Action 2 News.
King served her last day as an elder of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., Sunday, the station reported, citing unnamed sources. She was seen giving the altar call during the church’s 11 a.m. service Sunday.
Sources told the Atlanta-based TV station that they did not know if King’s resignation was related to the settlement and dismissal of the sexual misconduct lawsuits against Long.
On the other hand, it’s being reported by AJC.com that King is leaving with the blessing of Long, and had been planning this move for a couple of years, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.