May 14, 2002
By Valerie Hoff
Officials in Putnam County, Ga., have issued warrants for three women wanted in connection with an ongoing child molestation case involving the leaders of the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.
The three women face state charges of child molestation along with the sect leader, 56-year-old Dwight York, and his wife, Kathy.
Police say Chaundra Lampkin, Kadijah Merritt, and Esther Cole helped deliver young girls to York for sexual purposes.
Authorities believe one of the women may be in the Atlanta area and another in the Athens area.
A member of the Nuwaubian nation who grew up at the sect's massive compound questioned the allegations in an interview with 11Alive's Valerie Hoff on Tuesday.
"It was peaceful. It was calm. There were many people from all over the world. I got to research and do a lot of different studies. It was nice. It was not biased. It was very unbiased and open minded and the people were nice," said Darcinda Tyus.
Tyus called York a caring and loving leader, not a child molester.
"I have never, ever heard any of the young girls my age, younger than that or older, heard anything, any type of sexual molestation, fondling or touching," she said.
Tyus added that the charges are racially motivated, which the county sheriff adamantly denied.
"I am tired and I am sick of the race card being played against me and anybody else. There's not one shred of evidence. It is an opportunistic thing being used by individuals responsible for heinous criminal activity," said Sheriff Howard Sills in a television interview Tuesday.
Sills went on to call the Nuwaubians members of a cult, although he said accusations that he's trying to run them out of Putnam County are not true.
"I know of no legal mechanism to shut something down that in reality doesn't exist. There's no such thing. What is a Nuwaubian? You know. There is no such thing as a Nuwaubian Nation. It's the United States of America. That's the only nation I know of where we are here today."
Sheriff Sills made comparisons between the Nuwaubians and the Branch Davidian cult, whose members perished during a federal raid in 1993.
He said more charges against members of the Putnam County compound could still be filed.
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