York’s ‘wife’ gets prison

Cult leader’s ‘main wife’ pleads guilty to molesting children

EATONTON – A companion of cult leader and convicted child molester Malachi York will spend two years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to molesting four children.

As part of the plea agreement with Kathy Johnson, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said federal prosecutors have agreed to ask a federal judge to drop their case against her.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment Tuesday afternoon because the case is still pending.

Johnson, 35, was taken to the Putnam County Jail shortly after entering her guilty plea in Superior Court to seven counts of child molestation.

Although they were never legally married to York, prosecutors said Tuesday that Johnson was York’s “main wife” and one of five top women in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors camp.

“She has never shown an ounce of remorse,” Ocmulgee Circuit prosecutor Dawn Baskin said. “She is just as guilty in this as York is himself. She made her own greed more important than the souls of those children.”

Superior Court Judge William A. Prior sentenced Johnson to 20 years in prison, of which two must be served and the remainder on probation. Johnson also was banished from every Georgia county except Clayton County and will not get any credit for the five months she spent in federal custody in 2002.

According to state law, any person who is banished has to be allowed to live in one Georgia county. Prosecutors chose Clayton County because the Atlanta airport is located there.

“Many of the victims in this case are just ready for this to be over with,” Baskin said. “We have victims calling us and begging us to bring this to an end.”

Putnam County prosecutors also dropped four counts against Johnson in exchange for the plea agreement.

Prosecutors allege Johnson used children to keep favor with York, who already has pleaded guilty in Putnam Superior Court to charges of child molestation in the case. Baskin said Johnson would sometimes take children to York for him to molest, but sometimes she would have sex with them herself.

All of the children, both male and female, were between the ages of 8 and 12.

Although prosecutors said more than 50 victims have come forward, the state’s indictment against York, Johnson and three other women only deal with sexual acts performed on 13.

Two women – Khadijah Merritt and Chandra Lampkin – were sentenced to 10 years probation last year after each pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated child molestation.

A fourth woman – Isytir Cole – is still facing a charge on one count of child molestation for allegedly having sex in front of a minor.

York, who is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court next week, founded the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors in the early 1970s in Brooklyn, N.Y. The group was then known as the Nubian Islamic Hebrews and was an Islamic sect. In the 1980s, the group moved its base from the Bushwick Avenue neighborhood in Brooklyn to a camp outside Liberty, N.Y., in the Catskill Mountains. In 1993, York and his followers moved to Putnam County, where York claimed to be from another planet.

Beginning in 1998, the Nuwaubians and Putnam County officials engaged in a public battle over county zoning requirements. The Nuwaubians erected Egyptian-style statues and pyramids on the compound, often without building permits. The county sued York and some of his followers over the illegal buildings.

But in May 2002, after a lengthy investigation into allegations that York was molesting children in the compound, officials from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI arrested York at a grocery store in Milledgeville and then raided the group’s compound.

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