Wife of mega-church leader Eddie Long files for divorce
The split comes a about a year after a lawsuit filed against Eddie Long alleged that he used his influence and lavish lifestyle to lure four men into sexual relationships. Long settled the cases but has never admitted to any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, Vanessa Long filed for divorce from her husband, the charismatic pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. In a statement, she said the decision to end the marriage followed "a great deal of deliberation and prayer," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
But then on Friday, she released another statement that said she would withdraw her divorce petition, saying her decision was driven by "years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me."
She and her husband "mutually agreed to find healing," she said.
However, in yet another statement released late Friday, Vanessa Long's attorney said “she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.”
In a statement, Eddie Long said, "Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother. My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God's Will in these circumstances."
In a Times profile last year, some parishioners of the 25,000-member church -- who call Eddie Long the "beloved shepherd" -- told reporter Richard Fausset that the allegations should not sully his work.
Fausset wrote: "Even if the allegations prove true, they argue, Long still deserves credit for building an institution that has provided material aid and a spiritual framework for those who have flocked to the area in pursuit of the American dream on African American terms."
-- Stephen Ceasar
Photo: Bishop Eddie Long walks to the pulpit with his wife, Vanessa Long, at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sept. 26, 2010. Credit : John Amis / Associated Press