Nuwaubian leader pleads guilty on child charges

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/January 24, 2003
By Bill Osinski

Nuwaubian leader Dwight York pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges of transporting children across state lines for purposes of illegal sex.

Today, York is scheduled to enter another guilty plea in a related state case: He was indicted last May on 197 counts of child molestation.

According to defense and prosecution sources, York's recommended sentence in both courts will be 50 years, with a minimum of 15 years before he is eligible for parole.

Both sides declined to release details of today's plea agreement on the state charges.

York, 57, also agreed to forfeit the more than $400,000 in cash that was confiscated when more than 300 federal and local police officers raided his Putnam County farm after his arrest last May. Part of the money will be distributed to York's victims, for counseling and other related expenses.

The plea bargain effectively ends a four-year federal and local investigation into child abuse allegations, which led to what prosecutors saywas the nation's largest prosecution of a single defendant in a child molestation case.

York had been scheduled to go to trial next week in Newton County. There were 216 counts related to child molestation against York in the state indictment, and the state had named 13 victims. Though some are now adults, all are children of followers of York in his group, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, and all were children at the time they were molested.

Prosecutors said the number of counts could have reached the thousands, but the victims were unable to provide specific dates for all the times York sexually abused them.

York's guilty pleas, entered in Macon, eliminate the need for a trial, which had potential pitfalls for both sides.

From the defense viewpoint, it would have been highly difficult to cross-examine the child witnesses aggressively. Also, by going to trial, York would have risked receiving a much longer sentence, had he been found guilty.

From the prosecution viewpoint, the plea bargain means that the victims will not have the traumatic experience of testifying about the abuse. The deal assures York will spend most of the rest of his life in prison. At a trial, there would always have been the chance of a hung jury, or an acquittal.

York and approximately 100 of his followers left their base in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1993, and moved to a 400-acre farm property in Putnam County. In New York, they had been a purportedly Muslim group called Ansaru Allah Community.

But after they moved to Georgia, the group adopted a new, Egyptian-styled ideology and costumes. York re-named them the United Nuwaubian nation of Moors.

Along the entrance to their property on Ga. 142, they built pyramids, obelisks and Egyptian-styled statuary. They called the property Egypt of the West.

However, the state's case against York was that all the trappings were merely camouflage for York's practices of taking his followers' wealth and having unfettered, repeated sex with their children.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the state's search warrant served on York's farm, his followers believed that he was a supreme, god-like being.

The child victims were selected by York, separated from their parents, and brought closer to him, according to the affidavit.

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