Update: Hours after announcing she would divorce Bishop Eddie Long, his wife withdraws her petition
Hours after announcing she had filed for divorce from megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long, his wife, Vanessa, issued a statement Friday saying she had withdrawn her petition.
John Amis, AP Vanessa and Eddie Long, the beleaguered pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, have been married for more than two decades.
Vanessa Long had issued a statement early Friday morning saying that she had filed for divorce Thursday from Long, the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
By early afternoon, she had a 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 said in an emailed statement bearing the New Birth logo. "I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage."
She went on to blame "years of attacks in the media" for her initial decision to seek a divorce.
It was a reversal of her statement Friday morning in which she said, "After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long. Accordingly, I authorized my attorneys to file for divorce on December 1, 2011," Vanessa Long said in a statement.
Last fall, four young men accused Eddie Long of coercing them into having sex. Their lawsuits were settled in May, then dismissed.
Also in Vanessa Long's first statement: "It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly. I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter." The couple married in 1990. They have three children together, Edward, Jared and Taylor.
The lawsuit dismissals, first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prevent the four defendants from suing Long again for the same alleged offense.
The accusations made against Long by Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson alleged that the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relations.
Long denied the men's allegations through a spokesman shortly after they became public in September and told his congregation he planned to "vigorously" fight them.
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