Gwinnett jury awards $46M judgment in toddler starvation cult case

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/November 19, 2018

By Amanda C. Coyne

A Gwinnett County jury ruled that the estate of a toddler starved to death allegedly under the direction of a suspected cult member is entitled to $46 million, court documents show.

The jury ruled Nov. 12 that Calvin McIntosh was 60 percent liable for 15-month-old Alcenti McIntosh’s death. The ruling means he is responsible for $27.6 million of that judgment. That is unlikely to be paid out, as McIntosh is serving life in prison. 

In September, Calvin McIntosh, 48, entered an Alford plea to murder and child cruelty charges relating to the toddler’s death. An Alford plea allows a defendant to accept punishment for crimes while maintaining their innocence. 

Extended Stay America, the company that owns the hotel where Alcenti McIntosh was born and held until her 2014 death, was found 30 percent liable, meaning the company will have to pay $13.8 million to the child’s estate. The estate is controlled by her mother, 25-year-old Iasia Sweeting. 

Representatives for Extended Stay America and Sweeting did not return requests for comment.

Sweeting was kidnapped by Calvin McIntosh at age 16, her parents have said, but he was never charged with kidnapping. Police believed Sweeting was a runaway. She was allegedly held in the Extended Stay America on Jimmy Carter Boulevard by Calvin McIntosh and his adult daughter Najlaa McIntosh until 2014, when Alcenti McIntosh was brought to the hospital. The child was dead on arrival to the hospital, and the cause of her death was later determined to be starvation. 

Sweeting was allegedly raped by Calvin McIntosh during her captivity, leading to Alcenti McIntosh’s birth, police have said. Both Sweeting and the child were starved; Alcenti McIntosh weighed 7.5 pounds when she died, and Sweeting weighed 59 pounds and could not speak or walk when police found her in November 2014. Food was regularly withheld as a punishment, according to police. 

Authorities believe Calvin McIntosh is a member of the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a group described as a black supremacist cult. Literature from the group was found in the hotel room where Sweeting, Alcenti McIntosh and two other children were being held.

Extended Stay America argued in court documents last month that they were not liable for the toddler’s death because Sweeting “consensually” ran away with Calvin McIntosh and did not tell hotel employees or authorities that she was being held against her will. 

“The evidence ultimately shows that Iasia Sweeting was never kidnapped or held captive, as Plaintiff contends, and that those on the outside of whatever relationship she had with the McIntoshes would not have suspected anything untoward,” the company said in the court filing. 

The company argued that Calvin McIntosh, Najlaa McIntosh, a son of Calvin McIntosh who was present in the hotel room and Sweeting herself should be the ones held liable in this case. 

The jury found Najlaa McIntosh 9 percent liable and Sweeting 1 percent liable. The son was found not liable. Najlaa McIntosh, now 27, is awaiting trial on criminal charges in this case, but a date has not been set. 

Staff writer Joshua Sharpe contributed to this story.

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