A federal agent testifying during a bond hearing Monday in Macon said Malachi York molested as many as 30 or 35 children as young as 4, and a Putnam County grand jury indicted York on 116 counts ranging from child molestation to rape.
Also Monday, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Phil Spivey ruled that five children removed from the 476-acre United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors village in Putnam County during a raid last week will remain in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services. The parents are entitled to another hearing in 10 days, but no hearing was scheduled Monday.
York's bond hearing will resume at 9:30 a.m. today in federal Magistrate Judge Claude Hicks' courtroom. Hicks continued Monday's hearing after agreeing to allow York's new defense attorney Ed Garland access to certain previously sealed documents.
FBI agent Jalaine Ward said law enforcement has been in touch with 18 "cooperating victims" who have provided authorities with detailed information not only of the alleged child molestations but also the daily activities of the people involved in York's group.
"York himself makes all the rules," Ward said. The group's leader tells his followers what kind of food they can eat, when they can leave, where they live and what they wear, Ward said. "The men are not allowed to talk to the women without York's permission. ... The children live in housing according to gender and age, (and parents are) only allowed to visit (with their children) with York's permission."
York, the 56-year-old leader of the Nuwaubian nation, and the 33-year-old woman referred to by victims and witnesses as "York's main wife," Kathy Johnson, were arrested Wednesday on warrants stemming from a four-count federal indictment accusing York of transporting children across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. Johnson is named as a co-defendant in one of those indictments.
In the federal indictment, York is accused of taking children from Sullivan County, N.Y., where York had a village similar to the one in Putnam County before moving South in 1993. York's organization was then known as the Ansaru Allah Community and was based in the Bushwick Avenue neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City.
York also is accused of one count of taking children from Putnam County to Orlando, Fla. Ward said Monday that authorities were told York took victims to Disney World. In the past four years, York has made 15 to 20 trips to Disney World, Ward said.
The government is opposing bond for York, and Ward testified about his income and ability to access cash. From as many as a dozen bookstores in different parts of the country where York sells his books and trinkets, Ward said York receives an income of about $14,000 every two weeks. Meetings held at the Nuwaubian village provide York with another $4,000 a week, and larger events held during the year bring in as much as $500,000 per event. One of those events, an annual celebration known as Savior's Day that centers around York's birthday, takes place in June.
Ward also testified that York has a wife and children in the Sudan and in 1988 was convicted of using a false birth certificate to obtain a passport.
Following York's arrest, more than 150 federal agents and sheriff's deputies from Putnam and other counties raided the Nuwaubian village to execute state and federal search warrants. During the raid, authorities took into protective custody five children identified as possible victims by witnesses cooperating with law enforcement. Authorities also found numerous weapons and confiscated truckloads of potential evidence, among them hundreds of videotapes.
Among the evidence obtained during the search was a Pink Panther doll with male genitalia sewn onto it that victims told authorities would be in York's bedroom and a blanket with an animal print the victims said York used while taking pornographic pictures of them, Ward said.
Garland said after the hearing that York is "a valued and important part of community." Garland said as many as 15 character witnesses will testify that York is not a flight risk and should be given bail.
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said York was indicted in Putnam County Superior Court on 74 counts of child molestation, 29 counts of aggravated child molestation, four counts of statutory rape, one count of rape, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of influencing a witness and five counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes.
Johnson was indicted on four counts of child molestation and one count of aggravated child molestation, Bright said.
In addition to the two co-defendants in federal custody, Bright said the grand jury indicted three other women associated with the Nuwaubians: Esther Cole on one count of child molestation; Nedjula Lampkin, also known as Chandra Lampkin, on three counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation; and Nedjula Merritt, also known as Kadijah Marritt, on three counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation.
"The defendant, Malachi York or Dwight York, was indicted for molesting at least five different victims, young boys and girls, in every way imaginable, including orally, vaginally and anally; this was done repeatedly from 1993 through 2001," Bright said.
Bright said the federal charges allege transporting children across state lines for illicit purposes, but the state charges allege the actual acts of molestation and only include those acts allegedly committed in Putnam County. All of the incidents in which York was indicted Monday allegedly happened at the Nuwaubian village.
Bright also said the co-defendants indicted Monday with York are accused of acting in conjunction with York.
Bright said he did not know if York would be tried first in state or federal court but that he intends to prosecute all five defendants on the state level regardless the outcome of the federal charges.
Bright noted that his office has never had so many counts of child molestation against one defendant before, but "it's a lot of acts of child molestation," Bright said.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills confirmed that Johnson has a child among the five taken into protective custody last week and that law enforcement has received information that Johnson's child is among those allegedly being molested.