Baptist Bishop Faces Sex Allegations
He's one of the most powerful religious leaders in America, and he once shared the stage with four U.S. presidents when he presided over the 2006 funeral for Coretta Scott King.
Now, Bishop Eddie Long is the target of explosive allegations by two young men who claim he used his "spiritual authority" to coerce them into "engaging in sexual acts."
What makes the charges so particularly shocking is that Bishop Long is known for his public crusades against homosexuality, and led a march against gay marriage in 2004.
INSIDE EDITION spoke with evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, who admitted to once having sexual contact with a male prostitute.
"I think he's heartbroken, I think he's confused, and I think he's discouraged, whether he's guilty or innocent," said Haggard.
Haggard's wife Gayle authored the book, Why I Stayed.
"Eddie Long is a great man. He has served many people and done wonderful things," said Mrs. Haggard.
Bishop Long is the charismatic pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a mega-church near Atlanta with 25-thousand members.
The men making the charges against Long say they were teenagers when he took them on overnight trips where they claim he sexually abused them.
Art Franklin, a spokesman for Bishop Long, categorically denied the allegations, saying, "This is actually a case of retaliation and a shakedown for money by men with some serious credibility issues who are trying to mount their own defense."