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Former Nuwaubian writes book, tells how York duped followers

The Macon Telegraph/March 14, 2005
By Sharon E. Crawford

Robert Rohan says he begged on the streets for money and then gave it all away to a man who needed nothing.

 

And now he's written a book about it.

The 38-year-old New York native spent 16 years following the teachings of Malachi York, founder of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors who is currently serving a 135-year federal prison sentence for child molestation and racketeering.

Rohan said he left the group just before local, state and federal agents stormed the 476-acre property in rural Putnam County. He believes York committed the crimes he is accused of, although Rohan says he never saw any of that while he was in the group.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he did it," Rohan said. "A person who would lie would steal and a person who would steal would lie."

Now, Rohan has written a book - "Holding York Responsible" - which describes his experiences as a Nuwaubian and how he says York conned followers.

"Malachi York has a lot of charisma," Rohan said in a recent phone interview from New York. "There are people in life you meet who can draw you in with their conversation. That was Malachi York."

Rohan was introduced to York's teachings as a teenager in the early 1980s. York, then known as Imam Isa, lived with a handful of his followers in New York in an outwardly Muslim sect.

"My first thought was 'Wow, a black Jesus,' when I saw the picture of Malachi York inside all the books that he wrote," Rohan wrote in his own book. "So, it is only fair to say ... it gave me a sense of black pride and self-respect as I began my journey in search of knowledge."

Rohan soon moved into the community and attended classes on York's teachings. He said he became suspicious early on, but stayed because he liked the atmosphere of the black community.

"He had enough money to do something positive for the community, but he only thought of himself," Rohan said.

Rohan said he and others were forced to go out and raise $100 a day by selling York's books or other products.

"Malachi York became very wealthy," Rohan said. "If someone didn't bring the money in, they would have to leave the group ... that was his rule."

 

Rohan said York eventually moved the group to Eatonton when the government and longtime members started questioning his teachings. When the Nuwaubians moved to Putnam County in 1993, York was claiming to be from another planet.

"Malachi York came up with the idea to move down South ... because he was under FBI investigation," Rohan said. "He provided us as his followers the bogus rationale that we were moving down South to meet our spiritual parents. (He) always was quick to forget that he gave more than one reason for many changes that he introduced throughout the organization."

After moving to Georgia, York and his followers claimed affiliation with Masons and with the Jewish, Christian and Egyptian faiths.

"Once he started changing religious ideas, the older followers became skeptical and left the group," Rohan said. "That was what happened to me."

Rohan, who said he never actually lived on the Eatonton compound, said he became totally disenchanted with York when he learned the leader was having intimate relationships with female members - many of them were married to the male members.

"He would tell us that we couldn't have sex with our wives because we had to stay pure," Rohan said.

Rohan said he finally got fed up with York and moved back to New York to get away from the group. He left behind an ex-wife - who is still a Nuwaubian - and their three children. He worries that his children will believe York's teachings.

"We're all adults," Rohan said. "I feel sorry for the children because they don't know any better."

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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