January 17, 2003
Eatonton, Ga. -- A religious cult leader facing nearly 200 child molestation charges is scheduled for trial later this month in suburban Atlanta.
Ocmulgee Circuit Superior Court Judge William A. Prior turned down several defense motions Thursday, setting the stage for the trial of Malachi York, leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, to begin on Jan. 28 in Covington, southeast of Atlanta.
The trial was moved to metro Atlanta to ensure the case is not tainted by publicity.
The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is a predominantly black group that refers to York as "the master teacher."
It began as an Islamic sect in the early 1970s in Brooklyn, N.Y., but when York and his followers moved to Putnam County 10 years ago, the group claimed York was an extraterrestrial.
Followers have built pyramids and other ancient Egyptian-style structures at the group's 476-acre village in western Putnam County. For nearly six years, they have been at odds with county officials over building and zoning issues.
In May, authorities arrested York and raided the group's village after several former members came forward with allegations of child molestation.
Co-defendant Kathy Johnson, referred to by York's followers as his "main wife," is charged with 12 counts of molesting children.
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