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Bishop addresses charges, 4th suit filed

ATLANTA, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Georgia pastor Eddie Long Friday publicly addressed allegations of sexual relationships with three boys, as a fourth lawsuit accused him of abuse.

Long told a conference call with parishioners from across the country Friday he was in the middle of a battle and asked them to pray for his wife, kids and church, WGCL-TV, Atlanta, reported Friday.

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"We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward," Long said. "I have never dealt with anything like this before. I have been under attack before, but everything else has been different levels and different challenges."

"Know that I am also praying for the families and the young men who are accusing. I always operate in the spirit of love, and we are going to move through this," he said.

Long, who ministers to a congregation of 25,000 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, said through a spokesman he will address his congregation twice Sunday, at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday.

Long is accused of having sex with at least three young men from his Longfellows Academy. A fourth lawsuit alleges Long gave a 17-year-old boy Ambien, a sleep aid, and then hugged and kissed the teenager and rubbed his chest one night during a 2005 trip to Kenya -- and that the two slept together every night for the rest of the trip, CNN reported.

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Through a spokesman, Long denied the allegation.

"We believe that it is unfortunate the young men have chosen to take this course of action," spokesman Art Franklin said. "The defense team will review the complaints and respond accordingly at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum."

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