Jamal Parris, 23, a former member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Superior Court on Wednesday, the third man to do so against Long.
The lawsuit, like the two filed Tuesday, allege that Long used his power at the church to force them into having sex, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In return, Long placed the men on the church’s payroll, bought them pricey gifts and took them on trips across the globe.
A spokesperson for Long denied the accusations and worked to undermine the credibility of the two men who filed suit on Tuesday.
As the salacious lawsuits made national headlines, former Gov. Roy Barnes canceled a planned fundraiser with Long, according to the AJC. Long, labeled one of the most anti-gay megachurch preachers in the country, held a fundraiser for Barnes during the Democratic primary and has donated $5,000 to his campaign.
Barnes, who is running against former Congressman Nathan Deal to retake the governor’s mansion, doesn’t back same-sex marriage and supports Georgia’s constitutional prohibition on gay marriage. As governor, he reached out to LGBT voters during his term and unsuccessful re-election campaign. Barnes was the first sitting governor in Georgia to appear before a gay organization—his talk in July 2000 to the Atlanta Executive Network—and later met with Georgia Equality and the Human Rights Campaign in the 2002 campaign. He even interviewed with the gay press a week before the election.
Last year, Long donated $2,400 to the mayoral campaign of Lisa Borders, a gay-friendly candidate who enjoys broad support among LGBT politicos. His donation to Barnes presents the same quandary it did for Borders – Long carries great influence among black voters and his support can boost a campaign though it carries with it the risk of alienating some gay voters.
In the lawsuits filed Tuesday, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, say Long started having sex with them when they were 16.
“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” the suits allege.
“Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact,” the suit says.
The other man, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, claims Long took him to Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2008 for his 18th birthday and engaged in oral sex with him, Robinson’s suit alleges.
“Following the New Zealand trip, defendant Long regularly engaged in sexual touching, and other sexual acts with plaintiff Robinson,” Robinson’s suit alleges.
The suits also said that Long framed the sexual relationships as religious in nature.
The suits allege that Long chose the plaintiffs to be his “Spiritual Sons,” a program that allegedly includes other young men from the church.
The lawsuits are seeking unspecified amounts of punitive damages from Long on various counts, ranging from negligence to breach of fiduciary duty.
In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center called Long “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.” Also in 2007, Soulforce—a national non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating anti-gay rhetoric in all religions—targeted Long and other anti-gay mega-church leaders for discussions about their rhetoric.
In 2006, then-NAACP Chair Julian Bond called Long “a raving homophobe” and refused to attend the funeral of Coretta Scott King being held at Long’s church. King supported marriage equality and HIV issues, and her longtime personal assistant was a gay Atlanta man.
In 2004, Long led a march against same-sex marriage through the streets of downtown Atlanta.