Atlanta's Cox News Service is reporting that the sexual-coercion lawsuits against Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are more likely now to be tried publicly rather than settled out of court.
Both the Atlanta Journal Constitution and WSB-TV (Cox properties) reported late Thursday that settlement discussions between the prosperity preacher and the four young men who have filed civil lawsuits against Long and his mega-church have broken down. Late last year, the quartet of former Long acolytes stepped forward to say that he helped them live in the lap of luxury in exchange for sexual favors.
Long vehemently denied the charges and vowed to fight them in David vs. Goliath manner. Then the eyebrow-raising news broke that he'd opted for out-of-court mediation. For several months, the pastor and his accusers have engaged in hush-hush legal negotiations to settle the issue. But now the state court judge assigned to the case says that he is poised to put the tawdry affair on his calendar within months.
According to Cox News, Judge Johnny Panos will set a trial date for "August or September," but Panos declined to provide further detail about which side of the dispute isn't budging.
Just like the above-average temperatures that are currently baking metro Atlanta, the heat is on for Bishop Long to bring this ugly episode to a close before too much dirty laundry gets aired in public.
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