Months after making a huge announcement in front of his congregation that he intends to fight charges lodged against him by four former male congregants of sexual coercion, the Rev. Eddie Long has instead chosen to mediate with his accusers to avoid going to trial.
From the Huffington Post:
With little fanfare or news coverage, the four sexual coercion lawsuits confronting Bishop Eddie Long had the first hearing recently, with both sides opting for mediation to avoid a trial.
Why no major news outlet or editorial columnist has discussed the implications of such a move is nothing less than egregious in nature. Despite the initial media crush and coverage and the incessant analysis of Bishop Long's statement on his website and "sermon," there's been nary a peep in response to the quest for mediation.
Granted, if the future mediation in February does not solve the dispute, there is a tentative trial date set for July 11, 2011. This could still end up being resolved in a courtroom.
Bishop Eddie Long agreeing to mediation of sexual coercion charges is an end-run around the universally accepted moral and ethical responsibilities of any ecumenical leader. Mediation of sexual allegation grievances is tantamount to an admission of "some" guilt, "some" form of ministerial misconduct. Innocent folk don't make deals if the claims against them are baseless and untrue. Mediation for the accused is a forfeiture of the right to ever claim innocence, and readers should be absolutely clear on this point.
At this point, it is not known why Long has agreed to mediate but it is worth mentioning that late last month, it came out that he is linked to a questionable mortgage scheme that is under investigation by federal authorities.
The controversy began in September when two young men sued Long, accusing him of coercing them into sex. Long was accused by a third man and then the controversy got huge when not only two of the men chose to do television interviews, but pictures of Long (allegedly sent to one of the men) surfaced. Then a fourth accuser came public.
The nature of the scandal is especially biting to Long because he is publicly known for not only opposing gay marriage but also homosexuality in general. In 2004, he led a march of over 25,000 opposing gay marriage and gay rights.
Hat tip to Americablog Gay.
Eddie Long scandal - Chronology of what has happened and where we are now