News in brief from Northern California

Associated Press/February 13, 2004

Sacramento, Calif. -- Self-proclaimed religious prophet Allen Harrod has been indicted in federal court along with his wife on nine counts of transporting children across state lines to engage unlawful sexual conduct.

Harrod, 56, has been accused of writing his own interpretations of Scripture to justify the molestation of children. He was convicted in state court last month on criminal charges related to the same group of children.

Harrod could face life in prison when he returns to state court Feb. 23. His wife, Irene Hunt, 49, faces up to 18 years for her role in what prosecutors called a religious cult. The couple is from Folsom.

In announcing their indictment Thursday, federal prosecutors alleged the couple, along with their co-defendants, Michael and Juliette Labrecque, transported at least five children across state lines for purposes of sexual abuse. The Labrecques are formerly from Fort Worth, Texas.

Indictments were filed last year against the Labrecques, who are alleged to be followers of Harrod. Federal prosecutors waited until the Harrods' state case was completed before filing an indictment against them.

Harrod "created his own religion wherein he engaged in ritualistic acts of child sexual abuse and molestation," according to a criminal complaint filed last year.

When the Harrods were arrested in 2001, four of the Labrecques' daughters were living with them. In state court, one daughter said that she and her sisters were sent to Harrod for "religious training," consisting of specific sexual acts.

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