A day after two of the four men who accused Bishop Eddie Long of sexual abuse told their side of the story to the news media, the church is fighting back. New Birth Baptist Church's chief ministry officer Darius Wise gave an interview to WSBTV in which he tried to defend Miss Long. Darius says he first met the bishop 12 years ago while he was a freshman at Morris Brown College. (Sidebar: He was way too old for the bishop to hit on him.) He said the bishop mentored him and is not the person depicted in the media. During the interview, Darius didn't say whether or not he believed the men who are now filing suit against the bishop, but he does say he's praying for them.
"We've gotten a picture in the last week and a half of Bishop Long and I don't know that guy. I know the guy that is extremely generous, has a heart and a passion to develop young men," he said.
As for the photos the bishop sent of himself in his underwear to the boys:
"For him to be as conscious as he is about his health about his physique that's not uncommon to take a picture of yourself." (But that doesn't explain why he's sending them to teenage boys.)
On the accusers' allegations that members of the church knew of the sexual abuse and turned the other cheek:
"If indeed there were people aware of this kind of situation, they would have been reported. So there's no way that individuals here at New Birth could have been aware of those kind of allegations and not communicate."
Update: Marcus Culliver, 20, who was one of the Miss Long's co-called "spiritual sons" and went to school with the four men accusing the bishop of coercion, is also speaking out. He says he never saw Miss Long doing anything inappropriate -- then again, he probably wasn't Miss Long's type. Not by a long shot -- if you know what we're talking about and we think you do. Ehaow!