MACON, GA (AP) -- A judge has sentenced the leader of a quasi-religious sect to 135 years in prison for molesting boys and girls at the group's ancient Egyptian-style compound. Malachi York -- the 58-year-old "Master Teacher" of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors -- also will have to forfeit the 476-acre compound, adorned with pyramids and a sphinx.
A jury convicted him in January on eleven counts of child molestation and racketeering. Prosecutors said he recruited older girls to groom younger girls for sex with him, and used the cult for his financial gain.
The sect was founded as a Muslim commune in New York and moved to Eatonton in 1993, where York set himself up as a messiah figure. His lawyer argued that the government was out to get the mostly black sect because its beliefs were outside the mainstream.
Prosecutors had predicted York would be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison, but U-S District Court Judge C- Ashley Royal in Macon sentenced York yesterday to consecutively serve 16-hundred, 20 months -- or 135 years.
York was convicted after a three week trial during which 14 girls and boys testified that York molested them from 1998 through 2002, when federal agents raided the compound.
If girls pleased York, they got prizes such as diamond rings from Wal-Mart or trips to a restaurant, witnesses testified. If they angered him, their food was rationed and they had to fill out forms for necessities such as sanitary napkins and doctor's visits.
York's attorney, Adrian Patrick, had argued that the witnesses concocted their stories in a conspiracy by York's son to frame him for refusing to fund the son's musical career.
- Former Companion of Nuwaubian Leader Sentenced for Child Molestation
- York found guilty of child molestation and racketeering
First Coast News