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Fourth Accuser Files Suit Against Long

Fourth Accuser Files Suit Against Long

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A fourth man has come forward claiming to have been coerced into having a sexual relationship with megachurch pastor and antigay activist Reverend Eddie Long.

Spencer LeGrande said Long invited him to Kenya in 2005, when he was 17, the Associated Press reports. On that trip, he said, Long gave him a sleeping pill, and they engaged in two sexual acts.

Long, who allegedly told LeGrande, "I will be like your father," also reportedly said "engaging in a sexual relationship was a healthy component of a spiritual life."

LeGrande was a member of Long's satellite church in Charlotte, N.C. LeGrande said the pastor encouraged him to move to Atlanta, where he joined Long's main church, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which boasts 25,000 members. However, in October 2009, after becoming "disillusioned," LeGrande moved back to Charlotte.

LeGrande has filed suit against Long, joining Anthony Flagg, Maurice Robinson, and Jamal Parris, three other churchgoers who filed lawsuits this week containing similar accusations of sexual abuse in exchange for money, traveling, and gifts.

Long issued a statement Thursday calling the claims "ugly" and "false," adding that they have hurt him deeply. He said he would explain the ordeal to his flock this Sunday.

"I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply," he said in a statement. "But my faith is strong and the truth will emerge. All I ask is for your patience as we continue to categorically deny each and every one of these ugly charges. Finally, as I have done for thousands of others over my decades of preaching, I ask for your prayers for me, my family and our church."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors homophobia and bigotry, calls Long "one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement."

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