Radio mogul Frank Ski is speaking out in defense of Bishop Eddie Long who died Sunday at age 63.
In an interview with AJC.com's Buzz blog, Ski said when he returned to V-103 last year, one of the first people to call him was longtime friend Bishop Eddie Long.
The 2 old friends met for breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel. "He never told me he was sick," Ski remembers. "He just asked about me."
Ski, whose real name is Frank Rodriguez, didn't entertain rampant rumors about Mr. Long's illness in the months leading up to his death.
"He affected and motivated so many people," said Ski, 52. "His ability to be a great orator really helped people."
Mr. Long, who served as senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church just outside Atlanta, was accused of molesting young boys in his church in 2010. He reached an out-of-court settlement with 4 of his accusers in 2010.
But the damage was already done. Half of New Birth's parishioners left the church amid the sex scandal. Former associate Pastor Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, cut ties with Mr. Long and the church after the scandal broke.
But Ski wasn't among those who abandoned Mr. Long.
While not defending the allegations of sexual misconduct with boys, Ski stood by his friend.
"Sometimes it's the closest people to you who turn on you," Ski said without naming names. "As a member of the church and accepting Bishop Eddie Long to be a spiritual leader, I have to spiritually remain in faith, which is the essential core of Christianity: Faith," he said in a Sept. 22, 2010 radio broadcast.
"As a friend as an extended family member, I am loyal. I believe in being a friend to someone not only when they’re up but also in times of trouble. I am a loyal friend."
On Sunday, Ski stressed again that he never defended Mr. Long's behavior.
"Obviously there were people hurt on both sides," he said. "My prayers have always gone out to the people who said they were victims. I wasn't defending him. I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. I know he helped a lot of people. When you're a friend of somebody you don't abandon them."