Eddie Long, the antigay Georgia megachurch pastor once accused of sexually abusing young men in his congregation, has died at age 63.
Long died Sunday of “an aggressive form of cancer,” said a statement released by his church to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Long, who held the title of bishop, was senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta. In 2010 four men who had been members of the church filed a lawsuit alleging that Long had coerced them into sexual relationships, enticing them with money, trips, and expensive gifts. A court dismissed the suit and the men reached a settlement with Long in 2011.
The bishop did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, and he always denied the allegations, but even after the settlement, his accusers maintained they were telling the truth. Long’s public stance was also consistently antigay; he preached against homosexuality, offered counseling to “cure” people of being gay, and opposed marriage equality.
Last year Long posted a video online in which he appeared extremely thin, leading to speculation that he was ill, although he never disclosed he had cancer, the Journal-Constitution reports. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, along with four children and three grandchildren.