'It is time I acted like a leader'

St. Petersburg Times, March 18, 1999

This is the prepared statement delivered by the Rev. Henry J. Lyons to the news media Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to five federal charges.

When the devil tempted Christ Jesus, he tempted him with fame, power and wealth. I have fallen short of the standard set by Christ Jesus, for I am just a man. So let me speak to you now as a man.

I made mistakes, and for this I am truly sorry. But besides being a man, I am still a servant of God -- appointed and chosen to lead.

It is time I acted like a leader.

So hear me now. I take full responsibility and accept the full blame for everything that happened while I was at the helm of the NBC.

It is time for closure. So I call on the mercy of the federal government and ask them to dismiss their cases against Bernice Edwards and Brenda Harris. Since I now accept the entire blame I realize that I must accept the entire punishment, because with blame, punishment necessarily follows.

Knowing this, today, just minutes ago, I have freely and voluntarily changed my plea to guilty.

This persecution must end and someone must end it. Since I was at the helm when this tempest erupted, logically it can only be me.

In 60 days or so, the state and federal government will take my body and lock it up, but my soul and mind will never be shackled and will always serve God.

It is only fitting that I should do without the very material objects that have tempted me. So today, I have agreed to surrender all material objects that I possess except for my home, where my supportive and loving wife, Deborah, will reside until I return.

To those who have supported me, make no mistake. I am truly repentant.

To my wife, to my board of directors, to my congregation, I am sorry.

But let me assure you, I feel God has a purpose for me. I will continue to be his example and preach his will. My life now starts a new chapter. So once again I ask everyone, close this prosecution.

Today you have what you have for so long sought after. I beg you to leave everyone else alone -- for you now have me.

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