Family Cult, Part 2

Life on the Outside

"Dwight, or Malachi, York, is the founder of the Nuwabian Nation. I grew up on the compound," says 21-year-old Taariq, who left the group at 14. "Growing up, I knew Malachi York as my father. To be associated as one of his sons was a proud feeling."

"I lived in the community from age 11 to 25," says his sister, Nichole. She says that York was also known as Imam Isa, Doc and Pops. "We were raised to believe that Doc was a god or a godlike person."

Nichole explains how the group's belief system metamorphosed during the time she spent there. "Originally, it was a Muslim community. After a while, it moved away from Islam into Christian beliefs. It went into Native American beliefs, then atheist, Jewish, ancient Egyptian. We built pyramids. It was kind of confusing," she reveals. "It was very hard, many times, to keep up. One day we're in cowboy clothes, the next day, we're in Indian clothes."

"We believed in UFOs, alien races," Taariq adds. "I was about 13 or 14 when I started to be aware of the wrong things going on."

"Most people were either stressed, overworked, underfed, malnourished. At one point, I was even hospitalized for my potassium level," Nichole recalls. Then she reveals something even more sinister. "Doc had sex with girls as young as 7 and with boys as young as 5. I was molested by Doc since I was 13. I believe Doc had sex with at least 50 girls."

[AD]"I was molested by Dwight York when I was 7 years old, up until I was 14 years old," Taariq reveals. "It really was confusing to think of him as my father and going through the abuse at the same time."

Dwight York is currently serving 135 years in a federal penitentiary, and Nichole and Taariq's testimony helped to put him away. Yet, the siblings say they still struggle to move on. "I feel confused when I think about him," Taariq shares. "I still feel angry. I have a sense that it's just not over."

When Taariq left the group in 2001, he says he was mystified by life on the outside. "I've never been on an escalator, elevator, train, the bus. I had to learn how to drive," he says. 

"When I first got out, I had to use a payphone. Because I wasn't accustomed to using it or having money, I tried to put pennies in the payphone," Nichole remembers.

[AD]Nichole shows off her home, relishing her independence. "I have a new refrigerator, food I don't have to share with 100 people," she says. "I still get a little anxious if I'm going out with a bunch of people, but it's really cool that I can make those choices on my own. I feel very different from people. Either I don't belong, or I respond or react differently than a normal person would to certain situations."

"You can forgive someone, but you can't forget what they've done," Taariq says.

When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil praises the siblings. "I'm so glad y'all are here, and that you're out there moving on with your lives and doing the things you need to do," he says. "Was it hard watching the tape and seeing this guy?"

"It was hard watching the tape," Nichole replies.

Taariq agrees. "It kind of brings back that sense that it's still not over," he says.

Dr. Phil points out that Taariq is still being contacted by members of the group, who accuse him of betraying Dwight York. "What's that all about?" he asks.

"I live in Atlanta, so a lot of the followers are still based somewhere in Georgia, or in Atlanta or Athens, so they're in close proximity to me," the young man replies. "They'll come as a friendly approach " 'How have you been? What's been going on with you?' As you start to open up to them and communicate with them, they'll say, ‘Well, what can you do to help Pops out?' and try to get you to sign an affidavit."

[AD]Dr. Phil refers to an e-mail addressed to Taariq. "‘Accept the truth. You've actually said that to me. It's on you to fix what you all have done. It's on your soul, not mine. I mean, it's going to work out whether you believe that or not. I can't believe you did this. I watched you grow up and get nothing but love from Pops. How the hell can you do this? How can you help to try to kill Pops? How can you look him in the face and try to serve him up to the damn crackers? Just realize he will be free,'" he reads. "Even with everything that's been exposed, there are still people out there who are so indoctrinated by this guy that they're still bugging you and harassing you."

Dr. Phil turns to Nichole. "This hasn't been easy for you either," he says.

"With a lot of the people who testified against him, there are a lot of them who are either ashamed or made to feel guilty," Nichole says. "They'll push, ‘Oh, you're helping the white man bring a black leader down. The government, regular society, is just afraid or intimidated by a black leader trying to uplift his people,' but really, he did a lot of bad things."

"Does it get to you?"

"Yeah, it does," she replies. "We were raised really crazy, but at the same time, that's all we knew. It was just life to us. To be on the outside, and you're talking to people and they're like, ‘That's not normal,' it makes you upset that you went through it."

Dr. Phil references York's ecumenical brand of religion. "Did people talk among themselves when one day it was Islamic, one day it was Jewish, one day it was cowboys and Indians, one day it was aliens?" he asks. "Did anybody sit back and secretly say, ‘This guy is kind of whacked out'?"

[AD]"For the most part of the organization, it was Islamic, Islamic Hebrew-ish. That was one of the hardest changes for a lot of people when he was fading out of Islam, because when we were Muslim, he put out books about why you should wear the veil, you should be a virgin when you're married, you're going to go to hell if you're not," she answers. "The main focus, really, is about pushing you to prove your loyalty to him."

Nichole and Taariq were awarded the Louis E. Peters Award, the FBI's highest civilian honors, for helping to put Dwight York behind bars with their testimony. 

Dr. Phil introduces Bill Osinski, an investigative reporter and the author of Ungodly, which chronicles Dwight York and the Nuwabians. Bill explains how the group came to his attention. "I came across this strange collection of pyramids and sphinxes right on the side of a black-top, two-lane road in the middle of Nowhere, Georgia," he tells Dr. Phil. "I learned that [York] had been from New York. I went up there. I learned about past criminal allegations against him and started writing that story. After that story, people who were inside the cult saw it and wrote anonymous letters saying the children had been molested."

"So you noticed some pyramids in the middle of Georgia," Dr. Phil muses. "That's a clue."

"What really shocked me was the man's contempt for the people who followed him. They gave him everything they had " every material possession, their children " and he thought they were fools and idiots," Bill says. "He was only in it for sex and money." 

[AD]"There's nothing fair about this," Dr. Phil tells the siblings. "But what you do know is you're still here, you survived this, you got out. Despite all of that contamination, you are definitely, definitely contributing members of society."

He points out that Nicole is currently a college student. "You're pursuing a career. You're going to be a graphic artist," he says. "You've got a direction; you've got a focus." 

Dr. Phil says that Taariq shouldn't continue to engage naysayers from the religious group. "It's time for you to be selfish. It's time for you to set your compass and say, ‘I have to take care of myself before I take care of others,'" he advises.