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Bishop says he will fight sex charges

ATLANTA, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Bishop Eddie Long went before members of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta Sunday, and said he will fight claims he had sex with young men.

Long spoke to his congregation for about 20 minutes, but stopped short of denying the claims, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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The lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, Ga., allege Long took the men, who were teens at the time, on overnight trips within, and outside the U.S., and engaged in sexual contact with them, including massaging, masturbation or oral sex, the report said.

Speaking briefly to his congregation for the first time since the charges were filed, Long said he is not a perfect person, but didn't discuss specifics about the charges on the advice of his attorney.

"I am not going to try this case in the media, it will be tried in the court of justice and decided in the court of justice," Long said.

"Please hear this: I've been accused. I'm under attack. I want you to know as I said earlier I am not a perfect man. ... I feel like David against Goliath, but I've got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."

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Reporters who filed "tweets" on the Internet documented Long's appearance Sunday on a minute-by-minute basis; the pastor was to hold a news conference later Sunday.

The bishop said he and his family are suffering from the allegations.

"My first responsibility is to my family," he said. "This an extremely difficult time for me and for my family."

Long is credited for bringing 25,000 members to the Lithonia church. A Facebook page supporting Long had more than 6,000 members Saturday night, CNN said.

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