Held against their will
Former resident of raided MoBay religious compound describes sex room, claims trafficking in persons took place
WESTERN BUREAU: A designated room for sexual acts and top-tier leaders having multiple wives have been major areas of focus for the police who led a joint military operation at the Qahal Yahweh Church compound at Paradise in Montego Bay, St James,...
A designated room for sexual acts and top-tier leaders having multiple wives have been major areas of focus for the police who led a joint military operation at the Qahal Yahweh Church compound at Paradise in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday morning.
In addition, the head of the Area One Headquarters, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, says a girl who was forced into marriage at age 16 on the compound in 2019 did not get any consent from her parents.
“She was coerced into the process,” he revealed.
The existence of the sex room was confirmed by a former leader of the religious group, 33-year-old Shane Wise*, who spoke with The Gleaner exclusively on Thursday.
Wise, who lived on the compound for five years, and has since left the island, returned to Jamaica earlier this week just so he could file an official report with the police. His report to the police was confirmed by Chambers.
Wise, who said he was gifted a wife who was one month shy of her 18th birthday after he was appointed a leader at age 29 in 2017, told The Gleaner that two other leaders have taken on to themselves eight wives.
“No other leader is allowed more than one wife,” he stated.
Wise said the sex room was only used by married couples, but the children on the compound knew exactly what was happening, and there were times when semen would be left on the beds and those who didn’t have clean sheets to spread would be forced to use the area.
The small room, he said, was where procreation by minions took place, while the leaders had their own lodging, where they would have sexual intercourse with their wives. “If someone was using the room, you had to wait. And if the leaders were having sex with their partners, the other women would walk the compound.”
According to him, there are five rooms on the main building of the compound. Within each room are several bunk beds. The space was so tight, some people would become miserable, many opting to sleep on the floor at nights. The beds, he said, are five feet in length and approximately three feet wide, so a man couldn’t even sleep on them with his partner.
Over 100 residents lived on the compound.
“The idea and philosophy behind the compound was to have it as a communal setting, where every family have their own room, but they couldn’t manage the expense of construction, so they stuck everyone in one place.”
Coupled with the fact that the religious group leaders started referring to themselves as gods, forcing their disciples to pray to them, instead of Yahweh, Wise says being kept there against their will was one of the main issues he had.
He described it as trafficking and Chambers concurred.
“It is trafficking in person, not human trafficking,” Chambers explained, adding that trafficking in persons is when one is held against their will, coerced or tricked, or there is fraud.
“And that is why we got CTOC involved at one time, but they weren’t unearthing this type of information back then, so they backed out,” revealed the assistant commissioner in charge of Area One Headquarters.
Chambers said there is a view that the leaders of the facility want the children who are birthed as a result of the forced marriages to be fully indoctrinated into the whole process.
“One of the youngsters that was taken from there in 2019 has been helping us tremendously, we are just ensuring that what we have is solid evidence,” he noted.
In 2019, the security forces had to battle their way on to the church compound to remove three children reportedly in need of care and protection at what was then styled as a cultic stronghold of abuse, sexual assault, and wife-swapping.
This time around, even more members of the security forces were dispatched to the facility. However, there seemed to have been no need, as the leaders were very cooperative said the ACP. The group is now on a watch list with none of its members allowed to leave the island.
The Ministry of Education and Youth and the Ministry of Health & Wellness were the only ones not on the scene on Wednesday.
Javaun Thompson, who also goes by the name Eliyah Mashiach, in an Instagram video message accused the authorities of victimising him and his family for the last three years and six months.
“We worship Yahweh and we do have our human rights. You come searching our dwelling place for shallow graves and you found none; you come searching for illegal firearms and you found none. You come searching our dwelling place for scamming papers, yet you found none. Yet you continue to terrorise my home.
“My children have been traumatised by you,” he accused the authorities.
He said he has received correspondence from the Ministry of Education acknowledging their facility as a school and has proof of GSAT passes recorded in the government system, yet they have removed all the children from the compound. On Wednesday, 23 children were removed from the facility and placed in state custody after attending the St James Family Court.
*Name changed to protect identity
In tomorrow’s Gleaner Wise speaks about how he was beaten; how the children are abused; the $24 million he has donated to construction of the buildings, etc.