Agent Details Nuwaubian Abuse
The Augusta Chronicle/May 14, 2002
The jailed leader of a middle Georgia religious group molested
dozens of children, some as young as 4, during the past nine
years, an FBI agent testified Monday.
United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors founder Dwight York and his
partner, Kathy Johnson, are seeking bail on charges they
transported minors across state lines for sex beginning in 1993,
the year his group settled in rural Putnam County. The hearing,
which will continue in federal court today, was held less than a
week after more than 100 officers raided the Nuwaubian compound.
FBI Agent Jalaine Ward testified that three children told her
they were forced to perform oral sex and other acts with Mr. York,
56, and Ms. Johnson, 33. The children, ages 4, 6 and 8 at the
time, were photographed and videotaped engaging in sexual acts and
posing in sexually explicit positions, she said.
Children at the compound were separated from their parents at
an early age, with visitation dictated by Mr. York, Agent Ward
testified. He also controlled devotees' money, food and clothing,
dictated where they lived, and when they could enter and leave the
compound. Also, men could not talk to or have sex with women
without his permission.
The children who were abused were "treated more specially than
children who weren't involved in sexual activities with York,"
Agent Ward said, adding that they were forced to watch
pornographic cartoons. Some said they tried hiding in closets and
under beds to avoid Mr. York.
Agent Ward said witnesses told investigators that 30 to 35
children ages 4 to 18 were molested during the past decade. She
said Mr. York brought some children to the compound from New York.
He also took 15 to 20 trips to Disney World in Florida in the past
four years, transporting minors with him and abusing them there.
The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is a predominantly black,
quasi-religious group whose members live in a rural compound
resembling an ancient Egyptian theme park, with huge pyramids and
a large gate covered with hieroglyphics. In some Nuwaubian
literature, Mr. York has been referred to as the group's savior or
god and as an extraterrestrial from the planet "Rizq."
Mr. York and Ms. Johnson were arrested Wednesday as they
traveled a few miles from the 476-acre compound. Officers seized
at least 30 handguns and rifles during the raid, the FBI said.
Mr. York, who also calls himself Malachi, faces four counts
involving sexual exploitation of minors. The maximum penalty for
each charge is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Ms. Johnson
faces one charge.
Defense attorneys' cross-examination of Agent Ward was delayed
until this morning after U.S. Magistrate Judge Claude Hicks ruled
that prosecutors had to turn over the affidavits they presented to
obtain a warrant to search the Nuwaubians' Eatonton compound.
Mr. York's attorney Ed Garland said reviewing the affidavits
and presenting character witnesses today will show that his client
deserves to be free on bond.