May 10, 2002
By Jaye Watson
Five children likely to testify in the case against the founder of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors in middle Georgia are in the custody of child welfare officials.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said the five are being kept under police guard.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, two principal members of the Egyptian-based religious sect pleaded not guilty in a Macon, Ga., courtroom to allegations they took minors across state lines for sex.
Federal agents arrested Dwight D. York, 56, the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, Wednesday before raiding his group's property in central Georgia.
They also arrested a member of the group and York's longtime associate, 33-year-old Kathy Johnson.
After his arraignment in U.S. District Court, York was led out of the courtroom in shackles and handcuffs to be transported back to the Bibb County jail.
Investigators say York and Johnson transported girls under the age of 16 from New York to the compound in Putnam County for sex in 1993.
That's the same year York left New York to found the Nuwaubian Nation in rural Putnam County.
York also faces extra charges of transporting and one count that accuses him of traveling to Florida to have sex with a minor.
Most of the courtroom was filled with members of the Nuwaubian group, although none wanted to speak publicly about the allegations.
One supporter, Omer Reed, told 11Alive News, "I mean they are gentle people. They are easy to get along with. I've never seen anyone with alcoholic beverages on the place. I've never witnessed anything that was degrading."
York and Johnson are due back in court on Monday for a detention hearing, at which time a judge will decide if they can be released on bail.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of not more than 15 years in jail, and not more than a $250,000 fine.
Members of The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors have sparred with Putnam officials for years concerning building and zoning permits -- and have even sued Putnam Sheriff Howard Sills over the matter.
The Nuwaubians, a religious sect noted for building Egyptian-style pyramids, maintain a complex located southeast of Atlanta and northeast of Macon.
The group bought 476 acres of land west of Eatonton in 1993 -- calling it the "Egypt of the West." The property now has a "for sale" sign in front.
Last year, the Putnam sheriff's department investigated alleged threats by Nuwaubians against officials in the department, but did not find any criminal violations.
A voting controversy also involved the group two years ago. The Nuwaubians filed a federal lawsuit against the county after officials there removed more than 120 members from the voting rolls.
The group claimed the move was racially-motivated, but county officials said the Nuwaubians were trying to stack the voter rolls with members from outside the county to boost their clout in local elections.
The case was eventually dismissed.
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