October 5, 2010
ATLANTA -- Four young men who have accused Atlanta’s Bishop Eddie Long of using his pastoral influence, gifts and trips to coerce them into having sexual relationships with him may have a difficult time proving their case in court, Georgia State University College of Law Professor Jessica Gabel recently told WSB-TV Channel 2.
Long is senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., which has a membership of more than 25,000. The plaintiffs claim Long placed them on the church’s payroll, bought them cars and other gifts, and took them separately on trips to Africa, New Zealand and the Caribbean, among other places.
Gabel, an assistant professor, told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that she sees nothing in the lawsuits that would convince a jury that the men were in any way forced to do anything they didn’t want to do.
"What we don’t see is any allegation regarding that this was against somebody’s will or that they were overtly coerced into performing these acts," Gabel said.
Gabel also pointed out that the men were above the age of consent when the alleged sexual encounters took place and that there’s no direct evidence. Proving psychological damage will be difficult, she added.
"It’s all very ambiguous and difficult to demonstrate because we’re talking about things that are so intrinsic to the person that may not relate very well to a jury," she said.
Director of Communications