Sect Leader Sentenced to 135 Years for Molesting Children
Eliott C. McLaughlin, AP, SignOnSanDiego.com, Apr. 22
ATLANTA — The leader of a quasi-religious sect was sentenced Thursday to 135 years in prison for molesting boys and girls at the group’s ancient Egyptian-style compound.
Malachi York, the 58-year-old “Master Teacher” of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, will also have to forfeit the 476-acre compound, adorned with pyramids and a sphinx.
He was convicted in January of child molestation and racketeering after a trial in which 14 boys and girls from the sect said York molested them from 1998 to 2002. He was sentenced in Macon by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal.
“We’re very pleased with the sentence,” U.S. Attorney Max Wood said.
The sect was founded as a Muslim commune in New York and moved to Eatonton in 1993, where York set himself up as a messiah figure.
Prosecutors said he recruited older girls to groom younger girls for sex with him.
If girls pleased York, they got prizes such as diamond rings from Wal-Mart or trips to a restaurant, witnesses testified. If they angered him, their food was rationed and they had to fill out forms for necessities such as sanitary napkins and doctor’s visits.
Members of the group were not paid for their work — instead, York managed the money and decided who would be rewarded and who would be punished, prosecutors said.
York’s attorney, Adrian Patrick, had argued that York was framed by his own son for refusing to fund the son’s musical career. The defense had also argued that the government was out to get the mostly black sect because its beliefs were outside the mainstream.
York incorporated Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Egyptian mysticism and space aliens into his teachings.
Earlier this month, Kathy Johnson, York’s “main wife,” was sentenced to two years in prison and 18 years of probation for child molestation.
Rob Peecher, MaconTelegraph.com, Dec. 29, 2003
In one week, sect leader Malachi York will go to trial on federal child sex and racketeering charges.
A federal grand jury reindicted York last month on 11 counts, including three racketeering charges, five counts involving transporting minors across state lines for the purpose of having sex with them and three counts of evading federal financial reporting requirements.
The superseding indictment was released to the press last week, and though York’s attorneys requested the trial be postponed with the addition of the new charges, jury selection for the trial is to begin Jan. 5 in Brunswick.
If convicted on the new racketeering charges, York could face significantly stiffer penalties, including a longer sentence and possibly the loss of property.
York is the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a quasi-religious sect based in rural Putnam County on a 476-acre compound. A year ago, he was to go to trial on more than 200 state child molestation charges stemming from the same investigation, but just before trial he pleaded guilty to both the state and federal charges.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson rejected the negotiated plea agreement — which would have put York in prison for the next 15 years — and York’s attorneys subsequently withdrew the guilty plea.
Five attorneys are representing York: Ed Garland and Manny Arora, his initial lawyers; Frank Rubino, a Miami-based criminal defense lawyer who represented Manuel Noriega; and Benjamin Davis and Adrian Patrick, his two newest attorneys.
“We’re confident,” Patrick said last week. “It’s going to be a very intense trial. There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides, but we will be prepared for Jan. 5. We’ll be ready to aggressively defend (York).”
In the weeks leading to the trial, York’s followers have been handing out lawsuits like they once handed out flyers on the streets of Eatonton. On Christmas Day, two Nuwaubians attempted to serve Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills at his home with a lawsuit hidden among wrapped Christmas packages. A week earlier, one of York’s followers had a heart attack in the lobby of a doctor’s office where he was serving a doctor who has seen York while in custody.
About 200 of York’s followers dressed as Native Americans, wore Egyptian-themed costumes and Masonic-type outfits and marched in Brunswick’s Christmas parade. Other followers handed out pamphlets supporting York in the upcoming trial.
At a pretrial hearing, Judge Ashley Royal — who will preside over York’s trial — chastised the Nuwaubians for attempting to taint the jury pool.
The trial was moved to Brunswick after York’s attorneys sought a change of venue because of pretrial publicity.
Chief Black Thunderbird ‘Eagle’
In a lawsuit he filed last month under the name Chief Black Thunderbird “Eagle,” York claims he has been tortured while in custody and that his confession and guilty plea were coerced.
The lawsuit names more than 30 defendants, among them the state and federal prosecutors handling his criminal prosecution, investigators with the FBI and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, and victims and witnesses who are expected to testify against him.
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that he is not “Dwight York” — his given name — but Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle. Dwight York “is a fiction created by the state of Massachusetts,” the suit claims. York was born in Massachusetts.
The suit claims he is being treated cruelly and inhumanely because he was denied bond and lists several similar cases where bond was granted.
Among those similar cases, York cites the $3 million bond given to embattled pop singer Michael Jackson and the bonds granted in child molestation cases of six Catholic priests and two rabbis.
Attached to York’s lawsuit is a psychiatric report performed on behalf of the court. In that psychiatric evaluation, York told a forensic psychiatrist that his status as a “chief of a Native American tribe” gives him diplomatic immunity.
“The whole thing is about Putnam County officials wanting the Wahanee land (the Nuwaubian compound) back,” York told the psychiatrist. “This has been going on since 1993. It’s intimidation because I’ve written over 400 books that have worldwide distribution. The sheriff of Putnam County he is intimidated by me and by my tribe.”
He also said he didn’t trust Garland and accused his attorney of being in a conspiracy with Sills.
“I explained to (Garland) that I am a Native American and a member of the United Nations with a UN number. I am also covered by the Geneva Courts. I am designated an indigenous sovereign Native American. The paperwork is in the process that states who I am,” York told the psychiatrist.
When York first formed his organization in the early 1970s in New York, it was outwardly a Muslim sect.
When the Nuwaubians moved to Putnam County in 1993, York was claiming to be from another planet.
Since then, York and his followers have claimed affiliation with Masons, they have claimed to be both Jewish and Christian, and they have claimed to be Egyptian.
The compound is adorned with two pyramids, a sphinx and other Egyptian-themed statutes and buildings.
York was arrested May 8, 2002 and has been in custody since his arrest.