In 2010 five young men brought forward accusations that Bishop Eddie Long had sexually abused them when they were still teenagers. Four of them filed a suit against him. Since they had all been 16 or over at the time the alleged misconduct occurred, however, no criminal charges were filed as the age of consent is 16 in Georgia.
Eddie denied the charges, but settled with the boys outside of court and had them all sign non-disclosure agreements. Whilst that is not necessarily an admission of guilt, it does seem conspicuous. Why would he settle, if he was innocent?
His wife of 20 years stood by him.
But in December 2011 she filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. It sounded sincere and as if she had thought her decision through from every angle.
Many were relieved and wondered out loud what had taken her so long to begin with. Nobody actually was surprised that she did decide to leave Eddie.
Yet, the next morning she withdrew the filing. And another day after that the divorce was back on. At that point her lawyers made a statement, taking over from her. Previously Vanessa had said she loved Eddie, and by the sound of it desperately so. Then her lawyers simply announced that she had changed her mind after all and would proceed.
People were understandably confused.
Eddie issued his own statement, which sounded mostly as if he was merely praising her, not condemning her decision one way or another and not really saying anything about his own desire or lack thereof to remain married.
Ultimately Vanessa ended up withdrawing the divorce filing, which was granted without prejudice, which means she was free to file again in the future. But that has thus far not happened.
At the time no further statements were made. Vanessa never went on record saying if she believed her husband to be innocent or not or why she stayed in the end.
Two years after she first filed for divorce, she spoke in front of hundreds of women about her decision to stay, but, again, she didn’t actually say why she stayed. She told us why she filed for divorce, however.
She simply decided to abandon ship in the middle of the storm that seemed ready to sink it. Then she continued to talk about her own fallibility and how she makes good and bad decision like any other woman. And she also decided that she wouldn’t condemn herself, but instead make herself available to anyone else, particularly women, who might find themselves in a similar storm (however unlikely that might be).
Whilst her speech received standing ovations, looking at it closely one is hard pressed to make sense of it. What is she trying to say? Stand by your man? Ignore your own desires? Don’t leave, no matter what he has done? Love prevails all?
It really is anyone’s guess.
If the allegations against Eddie Long are in any way true, she should have left him. He doesn’t deserve a loving wife. But given just how fervently she stands by him, perhaps she doesn’t deserve a better husband.
One of his alleged victims wrote a tell-all book, but if that contains any truth is debateable as well. Apparently Eddie went after three of the boys he settled with and wanted $300,000 back, because they were in breach of their NDAs. We don’t know what came of that.
Eddie and Vanessa Long have now been married for 25 years and it doesn’t look as if Vanessa is ever going to leave her husband. But will they be happy ever after?