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Eddie Long, Atlanta Bishop, Accused Of Sexual Abuse By 4th Male Parishioner

GREG BLUESTEIN   09/25/10 12:27 AM ET   AP

Eddie Long

ATLANTA — A fourth young male member of Bishop Eddie Long's megachurch is suing the prominent pastor, claiming Long coerced him into a sexual relationship.

The lawsuit was filed by Spencer LeGrande, a member of New Birth Charlotte. New Birth Charlotte is a satellite church run by Long in Charlotte, N.C. The lawsuit said Long told LeGrande "I will be your dad" and invited the 17-year-old to journey to Kenya with him in July 2005. LeGrande said that Long gave him a sleeping pill on that trip and that the two engaged in sexual acts.

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of impropriety, but attorney B.J. Bernstein has said all four of the men who filed lawsuits consented to being identified publicly.

The lawsuit claims Long convinced LeGrande that "engaging in a sexual relationship was a healthy component of his spiritual life," the complaint said.

LeGrande, now 22, said the two continued their relationship on a February 2006 trip to South Africa and after he moved to Atlanta at Long's encouragement. He said that Long also instructed him not to have girlfriends, but that he pulled away in the spring of 2009 after he became "disillusioned." He moved back to Charlotte in October, it said.

The complaint, filed in DeKalb State Court, comes after three other men filed lawsuits on Tuesday and Wednesday saying they were 17- and 18-year-old members of the church when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.

Long is expected on Sunday to deliver the first public message since the men accused him of having sexual relationships with them. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer and a Twitter posting.

Bishop's attorney, Craig Gillen, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

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Filed by Jeff Muskus  |