Cult Leader Can't Meet Follower

The Associated Press/August 16, 2001
By Miranda Leitsinger

Miami -- A cult leader linked to a series of random killings cannot have any contact with followers after his release from prison unless he gets approval from a probation officer first, a judge ruled.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh, convicted of federal racketeering for his connection to the killings, sought an injunction against the U.S. Parole Commission's decision to bar him from communicating with followers.

He is due to be released to a halfway house Friday after 11 years in prison. But his attorneys say the strict conditions of his release are unconstitutional.

Yahweh wants to retake his leadership position with the group, which attracted about 1,000 people to a gathering last year in Montreal.

In his opinion Wednesday, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore said the commission was justified in its decision. He said the government "may reach its hand farther into the religious freedoms of a parolee than of an innocent citizen," if it has a "compelling and legitimate interest" and "reaches no farther than it must."

U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis agreed, saying "the Court balanced the goals of protecting the public interest and assuring that First Amendment rights are protected."

Defense attorney John May called the decision a victory for Yahweh because it sent "a clear message to the parole commission that it cannot act arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a reasonable request of Yahweh Ben Yahweh to have contact with members of his faith."

The cult was blamed for 23 murders before its leader was imprisoned in 1990. Yahweh was accused of dispatching his closest followers in 1986 to kill "white devils" and return with body parts as proof.

Yahweh was charged in three murders; he was acquitted in one and the other two cases were dropped.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.