Georgia megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long and the four young men that filed suit against him for sexual misconduct have successfully reached a settlement through mediation.
The parties agreed to mediate in December of 2010. The initial mediation session was held in February and full resolution was reached within a few months. In other words the potentially multi-million dollar civil case was resolved in less than six months. Had this case continued through litigation versus mediation, it is likely that it would have lingered for a minimum of two years before reaching resolution.
The details as to the structure of the mediation or the final settlement are confidential – as is customary in mediated cases. In other words, those not privy to the mediation or stake holders in the resolution will not ever learn the terms of the settlement, only that a settlement was reached. Litigated cases are not private, and, in fact, are often played out very much in the public eye.
It is interesting to note that the confidential nature of the confidential proceedings have frustrated many supporters of Bishop Eddie Long not to mention members of his congregation. For some they are outraged that there was no finding of guilt or innocence; no determination of right and wrong.
Roland S. Martin, a former church member and CNN columnist stated once news of the settlement broke:
He should not have decided on a private mediation; he should have demanded that everything be discussed in public.
Again, count me as someone who believes that if you are truly innocent of such heinous allegations, you don’t go behind closed doors. You defend yourself publicly and shame those who try to muddy your name and derail your ministry.
We like someone to judge. Someone to determine who was right and who was wrong. We like certainty, not ambiguity.
The private mediation of disputes, as opposed to public litigation, does not answer the questions of the concerned public. The case is resolved, but the uncertainty provoked by the allegations linger for those involved, but on the periphery.
Perhaps by public figures choosing to privately mediate disputes, we can start to learn to look for the answers to our questions in our selves not through a litigation. Those that feel betrayed, can feel betrayed, regardless of any judgment.
- Bishop Eddie Long Agrees to Mediate Allegations of Sexual Coersion
- The Problem With Litigation
- Confidentiality In Conflict Resolution
- What is Mediation?
- Arbitration vs. Mediation
- An Alternative to Business Litigation