Judge: Agreement is near in Bishop Eddie Long case

LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) - A judge says that a civil case involving four young men and the Georgia megachurch pastor they accused of sexual misconduct is nearing resolution.

Judge Johnny Panos said lengthy negotiations might soon bring the civil lawsuit involving New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Eddie Long to a close. Long has denied the allegations.

Panos said Friday that lawyers for both sides began meeting Monday and have spent a total of more than 60 hours in face-to-face negotiations.

The four young men claimed in a September lawsuit that Long coerced them into sexual relationships. The men say Long abused his spiritual authority to lure them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash when they were 17 and 18.

If a settlement is not reached, the case could still go to trial.

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