The Associated Press
May 13, 2002
By Kyle Wingfield
Macon, Ga. -- The leader of a religious group molested dozens of children, some as young as 4, at the sect's compound over the past nine years, an FBI agent testified at a bail hearing Monday.
Dwight York, founder of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, and his partner, Kathy Johnson, are seeking bail on federal charges alleging they transported minors across state lines for sex beginning in 1993, the year the group settled in central Georgia.
FBI agent Jalaine Ward testified that three children told her they were forced to perform oral sex and other acts with York, 56, and 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.
Ward said witnesses told also investigators that 30 to 35 children ages 4 to 18 were molested. She said York brought some children to the compound from New York. He also took 15 to 20 trips to Disney World in Florida over the past four years, taking minors with him and abusing them there, she said.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Tuesday.
York and Johnson were arrested last Wednesday a few miles from the 476-acre Nuwaubian compound in rural Putnam County. At about the same time, more than 100 officers raided the compound and said they seized at least 30 handguns and rifles.
The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is a predominantly black, quasi-religious group. The compound featured six-story pyramids and a large gate bearing Egyptian-style hieroglyphics.
In some Nuwaubian literature, York has been referred to as the group's savior or god and described as an extraterrestrial from the planet ``Rizq.''
More than 100 people lived in the compound but York and Johnson were the only ones arrested.
Ward said children at the compound were separated from their parents at an early age, with visitation dictated by York. He also controlled devotees' money, food and clothing, dictated where they lived and when they could enter and leave the compound. Men and women could not talk or have sex without his permission.
The children who were abused were ``treated more specially than children who weren't involved in sexual activities with York,'' Ward testified.
York faces four counts of sexual exploitation of minors. The maximum penalty for each count is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Johnson faces one charge.
The Nuwaubians have clashed with Putnam County officials for years over building codes, voter registration and the group's hiring of armed security guards. This is the first time York has been arrested in Georgia, though he served time in New York in the 1960s for assault, resisting arrest and possession of a dangerous weapon, authorities said.
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