Former cult members says girls were groomed for sex

A former cult member told a jury Wednesday how the group transformed from a Muslim commune in New York to an extremist sect that groomed girls for sex with its leader, Malachi York.

York, originally a Muslim cleric in Brooklyn, is on trial for molesting up to 13 girls and boys and bringing them to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors compound in rural Georgia for sex.

The woman who testified Wednesday, now 28 years old, said York methodically broke down girls inhibitions as he prepared them for sex with him.

York would first give the girls special privileges, such as soda, pizza and TV, she said. Then the girls would be moved on to pornographic movies and sex toys in preparation for sex with York.

The girls were told it was traditional for members of the group to have sex with the leader of the group so they could learn about intercourse and later please their husbands, the witness said.

A male member of the family would teach a girl about sex, she said. At first, I felt kind of funny about it, but after a while I said OK.

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The alleged victim, then 13 years old, left the neo-Egyptian Nuwaubian compound in Georgia in 2000 and later helped her sister escape. She testified Wednesday as part of a deal with the government not to be prosecuted if she took the stand.

York, 58, faces 13 federal counts of child molestation and racketeering for using his power as leader of the Nuwaubians to have sex with children between the ages of 5 and 17.

The woman hadnt been questioned by the defense yet Wednesday when court adjourned.

Earlier Wednesday, Yorks attorneys questioned the credibility of an 18-year-old woman who said York used toffee candy and diamonds to seduce girls into sex.

The attorney, Adrian Patrick, asked her about inconsistencies between what she told the FBI and what she said in court. She had previously said she first had sex with York in his trailer, although under oath Wednesday she said the incident happened at his home.

I wasnt lying intentionally. They were asking me a lot of questions … it was a mistake, she said. She said Wednesday that she was sure that the incident happened in the home.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, was moved 225 miles from Macon to Brunswick because of pretrial publicity, including months of protests by followers dressed as Egyptian pharaohs, mummies and birds.

York has unsuccessfully argued he has American Indian heritage and should not be judged by the U.S. court system.

U.S. District Court Judge Ashley Royal closed the proceedings to all spectators but the media. The hundreds of Nuwaubian supporters expected to protest at the trial have not materialized, but about 30 were allowed to watch the proceedings from a closed-circuit TV in a separate courtroom.

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Associated Press, USA
Jan. 7, 2004

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