ATLANTA, Ga. – For the first time, one of the men filing suit against Bishop Eddie Long is speaking out. In an exclusive interview with FOX 5 senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell, Jamal Parris tells a story of what he calls a love-hate relationship with a man he called “daddy.”
Following Bishop Long’s sermon on Sunday, Russell caught a plane to Colorado, which is home to Jamal Parris– the oldest of all the accusers in the case. In a parking lot, late at night, Parris told Russell a story of love, anger, and desire to protect other young men.
Here is Russell’s full story:
Jamal Parris didn’t want to talk at first, but before he left us, he had plenty to say about Bishop Eddie Long.
“You look at our eyes,” Parris said. “You hear the pain in our voice. We have no reason to lie to this man.”
Jamal Parris is one of four young men who have filed sexual misconduct lawsuits against Bishop Eddie Long, accusing him of using scripture and church money to sexually seduce them.
“I am not the man being portrayed on the television,” Bishop long told the congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday. “That’s not me.”
On Sunday, Bishop Eddie Long spoke for the first time, never flatly denying the claims, but vowing to fight.
“I feel like David against Goliath,” Long said.
Since last week, none of the four young men have talked publicly about the lawsuit– until now. We found Jamal Parris shopping at a 24-hour store in Colorado. Initially, he was reluctant to talk.
But once he started, he told a riveting story about how as a young teen– a 14 year old with no father in his life– he joined New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Bishop Eddie Long came into his life. He said Long said to call him “daddy” and to trust him with spiritual guidance.
“I loved him,” Parris said. “I’m always going to have love for the things that he taught me. But how he left us hurt worse than anything I ever felt in my life.”
Parris claims in his lawsuit the father-like figure used scripture to justify sex. And he lavished money, cars, jewelry, trips in the Bishop’s private jet, even homes on the teens, sometimes with funds from the church coffers.
“You finally have a father that you’ve always wanted for and always dreamed of,” Parris said. “He would just walk away from you if you don’t give him what he wants. So you end up turning into something you never thought you would be, which is now a slave to a man that you love.”
As he claimed in his lawsuit, Jamal says the bishop began a slow sexual seduction, which became more intimate and more intense after the young boys became of legal age.
“So, while the media and the rest of the people around the city, around the country look at us like how could grown men let another man touch him, what you have to understand is this man has manipulated us since childhood,” Parris explained. “This was our father and we loved him.”
Through his attorney, Craig Gillen, Bishop Long has called the allegations in the lawsuits false.
In the end, Parris says when the bishop loses interest in sex and sets his sights on other younger men, the older boys are left 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 says he attempted to resolve the matter privately with the bishop, but when that didn’t work, lawsuits were filed identifying the young men accusing the bishop.
“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,” said Parris. “To really believe this is about money would be absolutely ludicrous.”
He says he loved Bishop Long, but he can’t escape the nightmare of what he says Long did to him as a young man.
“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.”
Jamal Parris, near the end of our interview, said he wanted to speak directly to Bishop Eddie Long, and he turned to our camera to do so.
“But that man can not look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain,” Parris said. “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.”
And with that, Jamal Parris got in his car and drove off into the night.
We tried to contact Bishop Eddie Long, but his spokesperson did not return our calls.
WEB EXCLUSIVE: MORE WITH JAMAL PARRIS