A FOURTEEN-YEAR OLD girl has helped to demolish the myth that the dead Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh was a martyr destroyed by a ruthless FBI operation at Waco, Texas, in April 1995.
In evidence to Congress, which is investigating the episode, Kiri Jewel described how the self-proclaimed messiah used the sect as a cover for rape.
Koresh has become a legend in some quarters of America among people who are anxious to portray his death as a government conspiracy. His burnt-out compound, where he apparently shot himself, is a mecca for militias and other groups.
The Oklahoma bombing was timed for the second anniversary of the fire - and the man allegedly responsible, Timothy McVeigh, has said he visited Waco, where a militia group has erected a memorial to Koresh.
Kiri, with her father holding her hand, sat before a roomful of congressmen on Capitol Hill, and gave a dramatic account of the activities of the "prophet" and his "new kingdom".
The teenager said she was five when her mother, who also died in the fire, took her to join Koresh's sect. He was obsessed with the biblical Apocalypse and sex. "David was planning to lead the group to Israel to re-take Jerusalem. He taught that there would be a big battle between the forces of the world and his people."
However, this was a cover for abuse. Koresh used a wooden stick to hit the children. "It was called Kelper."
Kiri said that she slept with Koresh and her mother in one bed. She recalled a childhood friend who, at the age of 14, "has a baby for David".
There was an uneasy silence in the congressional chamber as Kiri began to talk of her first sexual encounter with the cult leader at a motel in Waco when she was 10.
He asked her to sit beside him on a bed. "He kissed me. I just sat there, but he then laid me down," she said. After committing a sex act, he instructed her to take a shower and then read from the Bible. Close to tears, Kiri said: "He sat on the bed and read the Song of Solomon."
Recounting more of her sexual initiation, she said that he used Biblical quotations to explain himself. He told her that, "King David from the Bible would sleep with young virgins to keep him warm."
She said: "I had known this would happen sometime, so I just laid there and stared at the ceiling. I was 10 when this happened."