LITHONIA, GA -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes has cancelled a campaign appearance with Bishop Eddie Long amid accusations that Long exploited his role as pastor of an Atlanta-area megachurch to coerce three young men into sexual relationships.
Anna Ruth Williams, a spokeswoman with the Barnes campaign, told 11Alive News the fundraiser was cancelled Tuesday. That's the same day two of Long's former parishioners filed separate civil lawsuits against him.
Anthony Flagg Complaint
Maurice Robinson Complaint
"While these allegations are troubling, we will refrain from commenting until all the facts are known," another Barnes spokesperson, Emil Runge, said in a statement.
A third accuser, 22-year-old Jamal Parris, filed another civil lawsuit on Wednesday.
Jamal Parris Complaint
All three accusers had been members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.
Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21, who came forward Tuesday, say they were only 17 and 18 when Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.
In a press conference, their attorney B.J. Bernstein described the young men's enrollment in the Longfellow Youth Academy where they ascended to the elite group of young men known as Bishop Long's "Spiritual Sons".
According to Robinson's written complaint, "Long typically engages in a private spiritual ceremony described as a 'covenant' between himself and each young Spiritual Son."
"[Long] would use biblical stories to talk about how important it was to follow your leader and master and let them know that the acts they were engaging in did not mean they were homosexual," Bernstein said.
She said Long told them he was simply "releasing his passion and his love."
The complaint filed by Parris on Wednesday adds: "Typically, when the young males, confused by the sexual contact with Defendant Long, find girlfriends or engage in sexual contact with females pursuant to their personal desires, Defendant Long initially attempts to block those relationships by increased contact and spiritual talk as to the covenant between the Spriritual Son and himself."
Robinson and Flagg detailed numerous alleged incidents where Long engaged in sexual acts with them when he took them on trips across state lines and in a church owned apartment near New Birth.
In Flagg's case, when he turned 17 he was having trouble getting along with his mom. He says Long set him up in a house on Golod Way in Lithonia, known to church members as the "Golod House". Flagg said that's where Long slowly developed a close relationship with him that led to numerous sexual acts.
Parris said his own father had not been a positive figure in his life, so Long offered to "protect him and never let another man hurt him like his father did." According to Parris' complaint, "Long would encourage Jamal Parris to call him 'Daddy'" and "discuss the Holy Scripture to justify and support the sexual activity."
Long's attorney and parishioners aren't convinced of the allegations.
"Bishop Eddie Long adamantly denies these allegations," Long's attorney Craig Gillen said in a statement.
"We find it unfortunate that these two young men chose to take this course of action," Gillen said after Flagg and Robinson filed their lawsuits. "We will be reviewing the complaints and will respond accordingly."
Bernstein acknowledged that at least one of her clients, Maurice Robinson, was arrested for breaking into New Birth Missionary Baptist Church June 13, 2010 and stealing property. She said Robinson was lashing out after he learned Bishop Long had other relationships with other "Spiritual Sons".
The lawsuits also name New Birth and the Longfellow Youth Academy as defendants because Bernstein believes some church members and employees were well aware of Long's alleged actions.
She said her clients are not making any on camera appearances until they can tell their stories in depositions and before a judge.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)