Religious Sect Faces 116 New Counts
11 Alive/May 14, 2002
A state case is now unfolding against the leader of a Putnam
County religious sect and three of his followers, who in total
face 116 counts of child molestation, authorities said.
Fifty-six-year-old Dwight York, the leader of the United
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, is named in a state indictment handed
down Monday against himself and three other Nuwaubians.
Chaundra Lampkin faces three counts of child molestation and
two counts of aggravated child molestation. Kadijah Merritt faces
three counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated
Esther Cole faces one count of child molestation, officials
All four are expected to appear in court soon on the state
York, Wife Await Bond Decision
York and 33-year-old Kathy Johnson, one of his wives, appeared
in a federal court Tuesday in Macon, Ga., for the second day of
their bond hearing.
Federal agents arrested York and Johnson on May 8, and charged
them with trafficking a minor across state lines for sex. An
indictment handed down earlier that day accused the couple of
taking teens from Sullivan County, New York, to Putnam County,
Ga., and from Georgia to Orlando, Fla., in order to engage in
illegal sexual acts.
On Monday, the first day of the bond hearing, special FBI agent
Jalaine Ward spoke in graphic detail about York and Johnson's
alleged assaults on the children of the sect's followers.
Ward said the incidents started in March 1993 in New York, and
continued in Georgia after York moved his followers to the state
during that same year.
York, who told his followers to refer to him as their god, and
Johnson have had older children help them molest the younger
children, Ward said.
Defense: York, Johnson 'Absolutely Innocent'
Speaking about both York and Johnson, defense attorney Ed
Garland said they are "complete, totally and absolutely innocent
of these charges."
"Our position will be clearly that a bond is appropriate, that
there is no danger to the community, that in fact the reverend is
a valued and important part of the community," Garland said.
York also faces three counts of traveling in order to have sex
with a minor in Orlando. Each count carries a maximum penalty of
not more than 15 years in jail, and not more than a $250,000 fine.
In addition to the federal charges, York and Johnson also face
at least ten counts of aggravated child molestation at the state