Trial continues for sect leader
Athens Banner-Herald/January 8, 2004
By Mark Niesse
Brunswick -- A former cult member told a jury Wednesday how the
group transformed from a Muslim commune in New York to an
extremist sect that groomed girls for sex with its leader, Dwight
York, originally a Muslim cleric in Brooklyn, is on trial in
U.S. District Court here for molesting up to 13 girls and boys and
bringing them to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors compound in
rural Georgia for sex.
The woman who testified Wednesday, now 28 years old, said York
methodically broke down girls' inhibitions as he prepared them for
sex with him.
York would first give the girls special privileges, such as
soda, pizza and TV, she said. Then the girls would be moved on to
pornographic movies and sex toys in preparation for sex with York.
The girls were told it was traditional for members of the group
to have sex with the leader of the group so they could learn about
intercourse and later please their husbands, the witness said.
''A male member of the family would teach a girl about sex,''
she said. ''At first, I felt kind of funny about it, but after a
while I said 'OK.'''
The alleged victim, then 13 years old, left the neo-Egyptian
Nuwaubian compound near Eatonton in Putnam County in 2000 and
later helped her sister escape. She testified Wednesday as part of
a deal with the government not to be prosecuted if she took the
York, 58, faces 13 federal counts of child molestation and
racketeering for using his power as leader of the Nuwaubians to
have sex with children between the ages of 5 and 17.
The woman hadn't been questioned by the defense yet Wednesday
when court adjourned.
Earlier Wednesday, York's attorneys questioned the credibility
of an 18-year-old woman who said York used toffee candy and
diamonds to seduce girls into sex.
The attorney, Adrian Patrick, asked her about inconsistencies
between what she told the FBI and what she said in court. She had
previously said she first had sex with York in his trailer,
although under oath Wednesday she said the incident happened at
''I wasn't lying intentionally. They were asking me a lot of
questions ... it was a mistake,'' she said. She said Wednesday she
was sure that the incident happened in the home.
The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, was moved 225
miles from Macon to Brunswick because of pretrial publicity,
including months of protests by followers dressed as Egyptian
pharaohs, mummies and birds.
York has unsuccessfully argued he has American Indian heritage
and should not be judged by the U.S. court system.
U.S. District Court Judge Ashley Royal closed the proceedings
to all spectators but the media. The hundreds of Nuwaubian
supporters expected to protest at the trial have not materialized,
but about 30 were allowed to watch the proceedings from a
closed-circuit TV in a separate courtroom.