May 8, 2002 Dwight York and Kathy Johnson arrested.
October 25, 2002 Hearing held in Putnam County. York denied the 208 counts of child molestation. A change of venue motion requested.
January 24, 2003 Plea agreement negotiated. York pleads guilty for 2 counts of sex with minors. In return, York’s defense team asks for 15 years in federal prison and 3 years of supervised release.
June 2003 US District Judge Hugh Lawson rejects the plea agreement
In response, York claims the United States government has no jurisdiction over him as he was the “Chief Black Eagle” or the “Yamassee” Native American tribe.
July 2003 Judge requests York be psychologically tested. He was deemed sound of mind.
November 2003 Judge declares jury pool “tainted” because of sensational journalism and trial is moved to Brunswick. Because of additional charges of evading federal financial reporting requirements and racketeering, the trial was eventually moved back to Macon.
December 2003 York fires his current law team, including his head lawyer, Ed Garland, whom he believes is racist and colluding against him. His new legal team is headed by African-American Adrian Patrick who begins on the case six days previous to the trial’s start.1
January 2004 Though the trial was originally scheduled for August 2003, it was delayed due to the change of venue, psychological testing, and the recusal of one of the judges. The trial was controversial, the prosecuting side claiming sexual abuse and racketeering while the defense claimed religious and racial discrimination. York never took the stand, and the fourteen witnesses that did had conflicting, even evolving testimonies. After a heavily covered and highly guarded trial and seven hours of deliberation, York was convicted.
February 2004 Court transcripts sealed to protect minors.
April 2004 Abigail Washington, a key witness, recants. She admits feeling pressure to testify falsely due to intimidation and to protect herself from possible financial accusations.
August 2004 Following an order from Judge Royal issued in July, federal officials seized the compound, Tama-Re, who in turn put the property up for sale.2 In the same month, Abigail Washington rescinds her recantation.
September 2005 Patrick appeals York’s conviction based on the improper combination of state and federal charges, media influence, and conspiracy of ex-members. His appeal is unsuccessful.3
1 Susan Palmer, The Nuwaubian Nation: Black Spirituality and State Control, (Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010), 103-113.
2 Bailey, Julius. “The Final Frontier: Secrecy, Identity, and the Media in the Rise and Fall of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, no. 2, 2006, 313-316.
3 Palmer, 124.
Towns III, Peyton and Kirk Gilbert. “FBI Arrests Nuwaubian Head.” Union Recorder (Macon, GA), May 9, 2002. Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia History Room.
Richeson, Don. “York Denies All.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Oct. 31, 2002. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Fincher, Cheryl. “York’s Arrest on Child Sex Charges Fuels Fears.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), May 16, 2002. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Towns III, Peyton. “Agent Testifies Nuwaubian Leader Molested more than 30 Children.” Union Recorder (Macon, GA), May 14, 2002. Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia History Room.
Towns III, Peyton. “York, Woman Plead Not Guilty.” Union Recorder (Macon, GA), May 10, 2002. Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia History Room.
Jones, Jay. “Sills, Newton Officials Prepare for York’s Trial.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Dec. 26, 2002. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Mitchell, Cheryl. “Putnam County Sheriff: York Lived ‘Like a King.'” Union Recorder (Macon, GA), May 16, 2002. Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia History Room.
Peecher, Rob. “Sills Reflects on York Trial.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Jan. 29, 2004. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Brunson, Robyn. “Former Nuwaubian Member writes Book about Cult Leader.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), May 26, 2005. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Peecher, Rob. “York Defense: Son Master Minded Conspiracy.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Jan. 29, 2004. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Peecher, Rob. “Nuwaubians Off Compound.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Aug. 12, 2004. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/
Peecher, Rob. “Federal Judge Denies Cult Leader’s Motion for New Trial.” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Aug. 19, 2004. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/