York supporters say tape proves his innocence

Macon Telegraph/April 23, 2004
By Sharon E. Crawford

Supporters of Malachi York gave reporters a videotape Thursday that they say proves the cult leader's innocence.


The tape appears to show a woman who originally testified that she was molested by York. The tape seemed to show her recanting testimony she gave in January that she had been sexually molested by York. In the videotape, the woman says she was coerced into testifying by one of York's sons.

Also Thursday, York's new defense team said part of its request for a new trial hinged on testimony from an alleged victim. But defense lawyer Jonathan Marks declined to say if that person is the same one depicted on the tape.

The videotape displayed Sunday's date. It was given to The Telegraph and WSB-TV, Channel 2, of Atlanta, at a news conference outside the federal courthouse Thursday.

"It's time for the truth to come out," the woman says in the video statement. "I'm here because I'm trying to do the right thing."

Testimony in York's January trial featured several witnesses who initially told investigators they had been molested by York but recanted, and others who had at first denied being abused, then later testified that they had. Prosecutors had more than 40 witnesses who testified against York, 13 of whom said he had molested them.

The woman said she went to prosecutors initially because she was worried about losing her children. She said she feared that if she did not cooperate, she also would be prosecuted.

U.S. Attorney Max Wood said the woman was not considered a main witness in the case and declined further comment. He said the first time he heard that the woman had changed her statement was Thursday in court. Wood heard it from York, who said in court that the videotape proved him innocent of sexual molestation charges.

In January, the woman on the tape testified at York's trial that he had molested her from the time she was 13.

The woman could not be reached for comment Thursday. Prosecutors said she now lives with her family in New York.

In the taped statement, the woman said she had consensual sex with York. On the tape, the woman did not say at what age she started having sex with York.

"I want to tell the truth behind all of the lies," the woman said in her taped statement.

York's supporters would not elaborate on where the tape was made or any other details about its production. When pressed for details, a supporter simply said: "Watch the tape."















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