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Monday
Dec052011

Bishop Eddie Long Takes Leave from Church After Wife Files for Divorce

John Amis-Pool/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Eddie Long, the anti-gay preacher who was accused of sexually abusing four young men in his youth ministry, announced on Sunday that he is taking a leave from his Atlanta megachurch to spend time with his family.

“I’m still your pastor, you will receive my direction,” Long told the congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Vanessa Long, who has been married to the pastor for 21 years, filed divorce papers last Thursday, but withdrew them a few hours later.  But her change of heart was short-lived.  On Friday, Vanessa Long’s lawyers announced the divorce was back on.

“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,” her attorney said in a statement.

Long’s accusers say he coerced them into sexual relations when they were teenagers.  The preacher settled with the accusers for an undisclosed amount last May.  Some suggest he spent nearly $2.5 million to end the lawsuit.

This summer, at his first public appearance since news of the allegations broke, Vanessa Long stood by her husband’s side.  The two have three children together, and Eddie Long also has a son named Edward from his previous marriage.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which has more than 25,000 members, has been rocked by the scandal involving their bishop.  It is trying to put a good face on the most recent developments, and on Sunday told its Twitter followers, “The enemy wants us to think it isn’t well.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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