The lawsuits against Long were filed in September by Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the responses by Long were about 30 pages each.
In his responses, Long acknowledged he took the young men on trips and that he showed them affection, as in hugs, but denied any sexual contact occurred, the AJC reported.
The men called Long “Daddy,” “Bishop” and “Granddaddy,” but Long said many members of his congregation called those names as well, the AJC reported.
“Bishop Long admits that he mentors many young men from challenged backgrounds who have often been without the benefit of a male role model,” according to his filings as reported by the AJC.
The court documents describe Long as as a “bold revolutionary spiritual leader” who puts “special emphasis on outreach to men, reinforcing to men the importance of partnering with a ministry that will grow them spiritually.”
The accusations against Long were somewhat shocking to many because of Long’s strong anti-gay views, including a ministry as part of his church that works to “convert” gay people. Long also led a march through the streets of Atlanta against gay marriage as well as other for other issues, including health care.
Many LGBT leaders decried the apparent hypocrisy of Long and said the allegations against him, if true, would “blow the hinges of the church’s doors.”
Civil rights icon Julian Bond skipped Coretta Scott King’s funeral because it was held at New Birth. He said because of her progressive views on LGBT equality and Long being a “raving homophobe” he knew he could not be there. Read more about Bond’s interview here.
On Sept. 26, days after the lawsuits were filed, a defiant Long addressed a packed church of some 8,000 supporters and said, “There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man that is being portrayed on the television,” Long said to cheers from the congregation. “That is not me.”
Long said that he has been advised by his lawyers “not to try this case in the media,” but closed with a defiant vow to fight back against his accusers.
“I have been accused. I am under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man, but this thing I’m gone fight,” Long said.
“And I want you to know one other thing: I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”
The attorney for the plaintiffs, BJ Bernstein, has not seen the responses yet, according to a spokesperson and could not yet make a statement.