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Friday
Dec022011

Wife of Minister Eddie Long Files for Divorce, Then Withdraws

John Amis-Pool/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Late Thursday night, Vanessa Long confirmed long-standing rumors that she and her husband, megachurch Pastor Eddie Long, were on the brink of divorce. She filed divorce papers Thursday, and in an emailed statement wrote that “After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long.” In the initial divorce filing, she said the marriage was “irretrievably broken” and had “no hope of reconciliation.”

Eddie Long was accused by four young men of coercing them into sexual relations when the they were teenagers. He settled with the accusers for an undisclosed amount last May. Some suggest he spent nearly $2.5 million settling the case. At his first public appearance after news of the allegations broke, Vanessa Long stood by his side. Her divorce filing was the first real sign that there was trouble in the Long marriage.

But Friday afternoon, Vanessa Long had an apparent, sudden and dramatic change of heart.

“Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long,” she wrote. “I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage. My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me. I love my family and church family, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Therefore, my husband and I have mutually agreed to find healing from these attacks. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time.”

This is Eddie Long’s second marriage. He married Dabara Houston in 1981 and they were divorced four years later. According to court documents, there were allegations that he beat his then wife with his fists when she was more than seven months pregnant.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which has more than 25,000 members, has been rocked by the scandal involving their “bishop.” Elder Bernice King, daughter of slain civil right leader Martin Luther King, left the church this summer but denied she left because of the allegations surrounding Long having sex with young men in his youth ministry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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