Decatur, Georgia — The reported leader of a cult who refers to himself as a God, Christ-like figure and allegedly sexually exploits his members is now in jail in DeKalb County, facing charges that include rape.
One of the first alleged members of that cult, Erikka Carroll, said she is grateful he is behind bars.
"Those people that are [still in the cult], their only hope is for him to be locked up right now. For him to be locked up period. It's too many things he has gotten away with," Carroll said.
Back in 2006, a Facebook post convinced her to move from New York to Honduras to embark on a life-changing experience. She says she was told she’d be able to build a new community there and be in touch with nature.
“I was just in a place in my life where I was searching for some spiritual truth," she said.
Once she arrived, she was picked up at the bus station by a man she still refers to as "Nature Boy," or Eligio Bishop.
Carroll says one of the members of the group donated $300,000 to Bishop, while another gave them a plot of land. She adds that Bishop did not work.
A few months after arriving to Honduras, they drove in a van to Costa Rica and settled there.
"We slept outside in tents. We wouldn’t live in the house. We would get up, eat fruit because we had to eat vegan, or vegetables and we would get to work," she said.
During the day, those who loved to paint had the opportunity to do so, while Carroll, who is an audio engineer, got to do music in a studio Bishop set up for her. At first everything seemed promising... until it didn't.
"When I got there I felt I had a pretty good self-esteem and self-confidence, but after every day being there and told, 'You’re not doing this right, you're so wrong,' when I left, I felt like my self-esteem was so low. I had no confidence," she said.
She said they had to eat vegan food, sleep in tents, and weren't allowed to use restrooms indoors. Instead, they were forced to do it in nature.
Everyone was also given nicknames. Hers was "BP," which stood for blueprint, because she was one of the first members of the group.
But the meetings, she said, were the worst part.
"We’d have to sit in these long meetings – he’d say we’d be facing our demons while doing that. But basically he’s just projecting onto you what he has going on inside of him," she recalled. "It was a lot of verbal and mental abuse.”
The group back then was known as “Melanation." Carroll's turning point, she said, was when she witnessed one of Bishop's girlfriends - who he referred to as "wife" - get beat up by him.
"He beat her," she said. "He hit her in the mouth, he slapped her up and punched her a couple of times and then he told her to go to the tent and give him oral sex. That was the breaking point for me. Once I seen that I was like oh no. She left the day after and I left the day after that."
But walking away from the cult was easier than going back home for her. She struggled to get jobs and started going to therapy.
“I had to check myself into a couple of hospitals and get my mind right. I was seeing spirits, I’m not going to lie to you. I was going through a lot and it was all connected to him," she said.
Carroll - who now lives in her home city of Decatur - said that since leaving in 2007, the cult now known as “Carbon Nation” turned more abusive and sexual.
"His behavior has gotten worse over time," she said. "A lot of things that he's doing now he wasn't doing that when he was there."
According to DeKalb County Jail records, Bishop was arrested this week and faces five charges: rape, false imprisonment, and three counts of "prohibition on nude or sexually explicit electronic transmissions" — under Georgia law, a violation of sending nude or explicit communications of someone "without the consent of the depicted person."
Carroll said she is glad Bishop is behind bars now. She believes that him being in jail will help open the eyes to the current members of the cult.
"He constantly says the same things over and over and over. You can’t watch any other teachers, you can’t read any other books, he wants everything to just be him. If you read how to brainwash somebody that’s basically how you do it," she said. "He [now] has the women fighting each other, he’s putting his hands on the men. He always said he wanted a lot of wives. He wanted ten wives.”
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