By Boyce Watkins, PhD
As the days have gone by since the start of the Bishop Eddie Long scandal, I’ve become more and more convinced that there needs to be a serious investigation. Something doesn’t seem quite right with the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, and the world needs to hear more from the young men who’ve been speaking out in public.
While I’ve seen quite a bit of evidence and videos that have gotten my attention, nothing has compelled me more than the interview with Long’s latest accuser, Jamal Parris. Jamal, who was chased down by Fox 5 in Atlanta, was reluctant to talk at first about the incident, but once he spoke up, his words were shocking. I’ll lay out some of the quotes that Jamal shared with Fox 5, and give you my take after that.
With passion in his voice and looking as though he was about to cry, Parris went out of his way to tell the world what kind of man he believes Eddie Long to be. He said that when Long wanted sex from a young man, he found him interesting, but once he was done with him, he would leave him behind:
“This man turned his back on us when he had no more need for us,” Parris said. “That’s not a father, that’s a predator.”
Parris really laid in to Bishop Eddie Long in a way that I’ve hardly seen from someone with a pending lawsuit. I can’t imagine that his attorney was happy to hear that he was speaking so openly about the case. Either way, he was incredibly convincing on camera and would be equally convincing in a court room.
“We would have to be the craziest kids in the world to want to come out and admit to another man touching on us publicly. To really believe this is about money would be absolutely ludicrous.”
Parris said that he loved Bishop Eddie Long like the father he never had. He seemed to feel betrayed and abandoned by Long, and the anger looked real:
“I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head,” said Parris. “I cannot forget the smell of his cologne. And I cannot forget the way that he made me cry many nights when I drove in his car on the way home, not able to take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off of my body.”
For the finale, Parris hit Bishop Eddie Long’s reputation right where it hurts:
“But that man cannot look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain. Why you can sit in front of the church and tell them that you categorically deny it. You can’t say that to our face. And you know this. You are not a man, you are a monster.”
One cannot say with certainty that Bishop Eddie Long is guilty of any form of sexual abuse, but I won’t tell you where I’d bet my money. Eddie Long is going to have a hard time convincing the world that all of his accusers are involved in a conspiracy. He won’t have trouble, though, convincing the world that his accusers might be disgruntled.
One has to wonder about Parris’ statement about Long abandoning men after losing interest in having sex with them. Does this mean that Long’s biggest mistake was to stop supporting them financially? If he were still taking care of them economically, would this lawsuit be nonexistent?
One of our loyal Aol. Black Voices readers argued that the Bishop Eddie Long scandal is not about homosexual sex but is instead about pedophilia. The reader made a good point, but it is not certain that Long had sex with any of the men before they’d reached the age of consent. So, if two men are engaged in a sexual relationship and both of them are adults, at what point have we passed the legal definition of coercion?
I don’t know the answers to most of the questions I’ve posed. But I’m sure that time will reveal all secrets. When the real Bishop Eddie Long is presented to the world, he could end up being a man entirely different from the pastor we respect so much. As sad as it is to say this, I can only hope that his accusers are lying
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy.