Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long agrees to mediation
By Joshunda Sanders | Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 10:50 AM

Morris W. O’Kelly makes good points at the Huffington Post on developments in the cases against Bishop Eddie Long, who may avoid a trial by agreeing to mediation in the four sexual coercion lawsuits filed against him. The Christian Post first wrote about lawyers on both sides “wanting to resolve the matter quickly” in November. Here’s O’Kelly’s take:

Granted, if the future mediation in February does not solve the dispute, there is a tentative trial date set for July 11, 2011. This could still end up being resolved in a courtroom.
Bishop Eddie Long agreeing to mediation of sexual coercion charges is an end-run around the universally accepted moral and ethical responsibilities of any ecumenical leader. Mediation of sexual allegation grievances is tantamount to an admission of “some” guilt, “some” form of ministerial misconduct. Innocent folk don’t make deals if the claims against them are baseless and untrue. Mediation for the accused is a forfeiture of the right to ever claim innocence, and readers should be absolutely clear on this point.
Did you hear that?
That was the sound of Long publicly admitting to some degree of guilt when he agreed to mediation. The public wanted Long to thoroughly address the allegations. Well, there you have it. He said it all, you just had to have been paying attention to hear it.
Long has said that he is “not a perfect man,” outlandishly compared his plight to that of David when confronting Goliath. We all remember Long admonishing his congregation and news media, “I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”
If mediation is his first “rock,” then a complete admission of guilt must be the next. There’s just nowhere else to go. Instead of opting for the opportunity to clear his name for the sake of his congregation and legacy; Long has chosen to quietly, secretly, address the allegations of sexual coercion; presumably with a sealed “mutual agreement.”
The major implications are that a precedent would be set for other potential and real victims of clergy and religious leaders who have inappropriate relationships with members of their congregations. More to the point, when religious leaders violate minors, the only time the media or anyone else hears about it is when court documents become public. There are very little checks and balances in religious life for insidious behavior - sexual, financial or otherwise. Removing these cases from the courtroom would hide whatever the truth is from the public sphere entirely. It also essentially further silences the men in this case and anyone else who may be afraid to take on a powerful figure who casts himself in a David and Goliath narrative.

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