Jury deliberates cult leaders case

Either cult leader Malachi York used his organization to supply him with girls for sex, or he is the victim of a conspiracy by former members who want to bring him down, attorneys said in closing arguments at Yorks trial Thursday.

York, 58, is on trial in U.S. District Court for 13 counts of child molestation and racketeering. Hes accused of transporting girls from his Muslim commune in New York to his neo-Egyptian compound in rural Georgia to molest them.

The jury began deliberating the case Thursday afternoon but recessed after 3 1/2 hours without reaching a verdict. They asked one question _ whether they could see a book of Yorks writings called The Holy Tablet _ but the judge refused because it hadnt been entered into evidence.

Prosecutors outlined their case against York, summing up the testimony of 14 girls and boys who said York molested them from 1998 through 2002. They showed part of a pornographic cartoon found at the compound and attempted to discredit the idea that the charges were trumped up by girls angry at being ousted from the sect.

I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that you will not be swayed by schemes and plots proposed by Mr. York, said federal prosecutor Richard Moultrie.

Seven witnesses said on the stand that York did not molest them. Some said the molestation accusations were part of a concocted conspiracy by Yorks son to frame his father.

Defense attorney Adrian Patrick displayed a chart that tried to connect Yorks son, Jacob York, with all the victims who testified against York.

Jacob York has a vendetta against his father, Patrick said. Defense witnesses said Jacob York hated his father because York wouldnt pay for his musical career.

Patrick also questioned whether it was physically possible for York to have so much sex with the alleged victims who testified. He added up the number of times they said York molested them to show that he would have been having sex with them 121 times a month from 1993 to 2001.

The case will come down to whom the jurors believe _ the alleged victims who said they were molested, or cult members who say the government and the victims conspired against him, Moultrie said.

This case is not the United States against the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, Moultrie said. Its about Mr. York.

The jury was considering the governments claims that York recruited older girls to groom younger girls for sex with him, and that he used the cult for monetary enrichment.

Members of the group werent paid for their work _ instead, York managed the money and decided who to reward and punish, prosecutors said.

During the deliberations, the jury wont be allowed to leave.

Yorks trial was moved from Macon to Brunswick because of pretrial publicity. He did not testify in his defense.

Over the years, York has incorporated Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Egyptian mysticism and space aliens into his quasi-religious teachings. He has unsuccessfully argued he has American Indian heritage and should not be judged by the U.S. court system.

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