The reconciliation of Vanessa and Eddie Long didn’t make it through the day, as the wife of the New Birth Missionary Baptist pastor has decided against withdrawing her petition for divorce filed late Thursday afternoon.
“Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly; however, she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time,” Kilpatrick Townsend partner Michael W. Tyler said.
“To avoid any undue confusion, Mrs. Long’s future statements, if any, will be issued through her attorneys,” he said. A spokesman for Kilpatrick Townsend refused further comment.
Vanessa Long released three statements to the media Friday. First she announced she was seeking to end her 21-year-marriage following “a great deal of deliberation and prayer.”
Then, around lunchtime, in a statement sent through New Birth’s public relations firm, Vanessa Long said, upon further “prayerful reflection,” she was withdrawing the divorce petition.
“I love my husband,” she said in the second press release. “I believe in him and admire his strength and courage.”
Long, a New Birth elder, said her decision to seek a divorce was driven by “years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me.” She and her husband “mutually agreed to find healing,” Vanessa Long said.
Six hours later, her attorneys announced she was proceeding with the divorce “consistent with her original [statement] made this morning.”
In the divorce filing, Vanessa Long, 53, said her marriage to the New Birth pastor was “irretrievably broken” and there was “no hope of reconciliation.” The couple has been in a “state of separation,” according to the petition.
“Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother,” Bishop Long said in a statement Friday night. “My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God’s will in these circumstances.”
Vanessa Long has kept a low profile since the September 2010 lawsuit filed against her husband by former New Birth members Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson alleging the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.
Though she has never spoken publicly about the allegations, she provided her husband with a symbolic lift when she appeared by his side at New Birth the Sunday after the lawsuit was filed. The bishop, who told his congregation that day he planned to “vigorously” fight the allegations against him, reached a settlement with his accusers in late May after months of mediation.
A bio on New Birth’s website describes Vanessa Long as “the quiet strength in the Long family … an awesome woman of God in her own right. She is an inspiration to many of the women at New Birth as they watch her lovingly and quietly support her husband in every sense of the word.”
This would be Bishop Long’s second divorce. His first wife, Dabara S. Houston, alleged she was the victim of “cruel treatment” and claimed she was afraid of her husband’s “violent and vicious temper,” according to Fulton County Superior Court records. She and her son “had to flee [the couple’s Fairburn home] in order to ensure their safety,” the documents say.
The couple was married in 1981 and separated after a couple years, according to the documents. Long’s first wife made the abuse allegation in a counterclaim after he petitioned for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.