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
"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
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
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
"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."