Religious Sect Faces 116 New
11 Alive/May 14, 2002
A state case is now unfolding against the leader of a Putnam
County religious sect and three of his followers, who in
total face 116 counts of child molestation, authorities
Fifty-six-year-old Dwight York, the leader of the United
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, is named in a state indictment
handed down Monday against himself and three other
Chaundra Lampkin faces three counts of child molestation and
two counts of aggravated child molestation. Kadijah Merritt
faces three counts of child molestation and two counts of
aggravated child molestation.
Esther Cole faces one count of child molestation, officials
All four are expected to appear in court soon on the state
York, Wife Await Bond Decision
York and 33-year-old Kathy Johnson, one of his wives,
appeared in a federal court Tuesday in Macon, Ga., for the
second day of their bond hearing.
Federal agents arrested York and Johnson on May 8, and
charged them with trafficking a minor across state lines for
sex. An indictment handed down earlier that day accused the
couple of taking teens from Sullivan County, New York, to
Putnam County, Ga., and from Georgia to Orlando, Fla., in
order to engage in illegal sexual acts.
On Monday, the first day of the bond hearing, special FBI
agent Jalaine Ward spoke in graphic detail about York and
Johnson's alleged assaults on the children of the sect's
Ward said the incidents started in March 1993 in New York,
and continued in Georgia after York moved his followers to
the state during that same year.
York, who told his followers to refer to him as their god,
and Johnson have had older children help them molest the
younger children, Ward said.
Defense: York, Johnson 'Absolutely Innocent'
Speaking about both York and Johnson, defense attorney Ed
Garland said they are "complete, totally and absolutely
innocent of these charges."
"Our position will be clearly that a bond is appropriate,
that there is no danger to the community, that in fact the
reverend is a valued and important part of the community,"
York also faces three counts of traveling in order to have
sex with a minor in Orlando. Each count carries a maximum
penalty of not more than 15 years in jail, and not more than
a $250,000 fine.
In addition to the federal charges, York and Johnson also
face at least ten counts of aggravated child molestation at
the state level.