FBI: Kids from 4 to 18 abused in
Atlanta Journal-Constitutuion/May 14, 2002
By Bill Osinski
Eatonton --- The child molestation case against Nuwaubian
leader Dwight York escalated Monday in state and federal
In Eatonton, a Putnam County grand jury issued a 116-count
indictment of the 56-year-old leader of the United Nuwaubian
Nation of Moors, a quasi-religious group whose 150 to 200
members live in a rural compound that features huge pyramids
and a large gate covered with hieroglyphics.
York was charged with 74 counts of child molestation, 29
counts of aggravated child molestation and related charges,
including one count of rape.
In Macon, an FBI agent testified at a bond hearing in U.S.
District Court that authorities have identified as many as
35 victims, whose age at the time of the alleged crimes
ranged from 4 to 18.
York is in federal custody after being arrested Wednesday by
FBI agents in Baldwin County as an army of federal and local
officers swooped down on the compound in Putnam County.
York's associate, Kathy Johnson, who was arrested with him
on the federal charges, also was named in five counts of the
Three other members of the Nuwaubian group --- identified as
Chandra Lampkin, Kadijah Merritt and Esther Cole --- were
indicted on state charges of child molestation.
Fred Bright, district attorney for the judicial circuit that
includes Putnam County, said the state indictment accuses
York of molesting at least five children repeatedly "and in
just about every way imaginable."
The indictments crown a four-year investigation by the FBI
and the Putnam County sheriff's office. It began when a
local social service agency received anonymous allegations
that children were being sexually abused at the Nuwaubians'
York and the Nuwaubians have frequently criticized Putnam
County authorities for what they contend is racial
discrimination and harassment.
Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskin said there were no
ulterior motives to the state's charges.
"There's nothing political about child molestation," she
All the alleged crimes were committed at the Nuwaubian
compound, Bright said.
FBI agent Jalaine Ward testified at the bond hearing in
federal court in Macon regarding the scope of the
government's case against York.
York Said to Have Ruled with Iron Hand
The government has statements from approximately 15
witnesses who testified that York sodomized and had sexual
intercourse with children, Ward testified. In some of these
encounters, the acts were photographed and videotaped, she
The agent's testimony depicted a long-standing pattern of
York's having sex with children within his community.
The incidents started at his group's bases in New York and
continued after the sect moved in 1993 to a Putnam County
farm and --- in the alleged acts that make this case a
federal matter --- during an estimated 15 to 20 trips to
Disney World in Florida over the past four years,
"York controls everything that goes on" at the compound,
Ward said, summarizing witness descriptions of life at the
former cattle ranch, which the Nuwaubians have decorated
with Egyptian-style pyramids and statuary. In some Nuwaubian
literature, York is called the group's savior or god.
Ward said York controlled what and how much his followers
ate, how much money they were permitted, and whether they
could come and go at the compound.
The federal prosecutor wants to deny York bail, but U.S.
Magistrate Judge Claude Hicks indicated he would not rule on
that matter before today, when the bond hearing resumes.
Hicks ruled that defense attorneys could review the 50-page
affidavit used to support York's arrest, but he also gave
prosecutors time to black out the names of victims mentioned
in the document.
Defense Lawyer Demands to See Papers
Defense attorney Ed Garland of Atlanta argued he should have
access to unedited versions of the federal investigative
"We are here, really, in the dark," Garland told the court.
"If a confidential informant is also a victim, then they are
not entitled to be shielded."
Hicks rejected that argument, but Garland renewed his demand
for the documents as he started to cross-examine Ward. It
was then the hearing was adjourned for the day.
In her testimony, the FBI agent said children typically were
separated from adults at the Nuwaubian compound. They were
not allowed contact with their natural parents without
York's permission, she said.
Witnesses have stated that Johnson, York's associate, was an
active participant in some of the sex acts with the
children, Ward said. Johnson brought children to York for
sex and instructed them on sexual techniques, the agent
Ward also testified that some of the children were
intimidated and threatened by York. One of the females who
accused York said he "threatened to shoot her in the head"
if she reported the sexual abuse to authorities, Ward said.
In a search of the farm conducted last week during the
massive raid by authorities, federal agents confiscated more
than 30 weapons, about a dozen of which were found in York's
house, Ward testified.