Bishop Long responds to wife's divorce filing - CBS46 News

Bishop Long responds to wife's divorce filing

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Bishop Eddie Long released a statement Friday evening after his wife, Vanessa G. Long, decided to continue with her petition for divorce.

"God has blessed us with a wonderful family. Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother. My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God's Will in these circumstances. We will do so as privately as possible and with a spirit of love and sensitivity to our family. We ask that you be in prayer for our family and that we be allowed to privately pursue this important path without need, or request from the media, for further comment," Eddie Long said.

The wife of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia filed a petition for divorce Thursday night, then announced she planned to withdraw the petition Friday, then changed her mind again, saying she would seek a divorce after all.

The statement was sent through Vanessa Long's attorney and said:

"After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long.  Accordingly, I authorized my attorneys to file for divorce on December 1, 2011.   

"It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly.  I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter.

"I also ask that the public pray for my entire family during this difficult period of transition.

"Thank you, and may God continue to bless and keep each of you."

In the divorce filing, Vanessa Long stated that the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and had "no hope of reconciliation."

But Friday afternoon, a second statement was released by Vanessa Long, stating that she planned to withdraw her petition for divorce. 

That statement, released by a spokesman with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, said:

"Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long. I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength, and courage. My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me. I love my family and church family, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Therefore, my husband and I have mutually agreed to find healing from these attacks. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time."

Friday evening, a third statement was issued by Vanessa Long, this time through her attorney, which said:

"Consistent with her original statement made this morning, Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly; however, she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.

"To avoid any undue confusion, Mrs. Long's future statements, if any, will be issued through her attorneys only. At this time, neither she nor we will have any further comment on this matter."

The divorce filing followed a year of controversy for Eddie Long. 

In September 2010, four young men filed civil suits claiming that the megachurch pastor used his authority as a religious leader to persuade them into sexual relations. But those suits were settled out of court in May, and no one involved publicly discussed the terms of the settlement.

In the suits, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg said that Eddie Long lavished them with gifts and took them on trips around the world when they were teenagers.

Then cell phone pictures emerged of Eddie Long, posing in muscle shirts. The young men said he sent the photos, trying to entice them.

Eddie Long's church filed court documents in November 2010, confirming that Long took his accusers on trips. But leaders said that they did not believe Eddie Long engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct.

Eddie Long said the accusations against him were false.

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