Eight members of the Kansas-based religious organization known as the United Nation of Islam were charged with child abuse last week, as well as conspiracy and forced labor. Prosecutors alleged that UNOI – which was labeled a cult by a federal judge in 2018 – abused children and forced them to work without pay for several years.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday indicated that the eight leaders were charged in connection to alleged abuse that occurred from 2000 to 2012. The leaders convinced parents and members of UNOI to send their children to the unlicensed Kansas City, Kansas school, University of Arts and Logistics of Civilization. The leaders promised a first-rate education that would develop the children’s life skills while simultaneously covering a diverse curriculum.
Instead, many children who attended the University of Arts and Logistics of Civilization were sent away to work, often in other states, for no pay. Minors as young as 8 years old were forced to work in various businesses without the proper education the institution promised and some were trafficked to cities around the country. The United Nation of Islam often sent children to restaurants, gas stations, factories, and bakeries. Reports claimed children worked shifts as long as 16 hours.
Some of those children were then forced to stay in UNOI-sponsored dormitories which were often overcrowded and poorly run. The minors and young adults were put under the supervision of strangers who were known to be strict and often abusive. Court records indicated that the United Nation of Islam leaders abused the youth living in their sponsored housing, controlling what they ate, read, and consumed.
Many of the children were forbidden to talk without permission and were kept away from their family members. One report claimed the youth were required to weigh in and were often subjected to colonics that required them to drink only lemon water for long bouts of time. Many of the children were only allowed to eat twice a day.
Despite the cruel and overcrowded living conditions forced upon the children, the indictment acknowledged that “the defendants and their immediate families typically resided in spacious accommodations, ate what they wanted, and worked at their own discretion.”
According to the indictment, members of the Kansas City, Kansas religious group also reportedly beat children as punishment, especially the young male members. “Fruit of Islam Beatdowns” were reportedly organized by three of the defendants and were used to punish children for stealing or other code violations.
Randolph Hadley, Jacelyn Greenwell, Etinia Kinnard, Dana Peach, Daniel Jenkins, James Staton, Yunus Rassoul, and Kaaba Majeed – all UNOI leaders – were arrested in various cities around the United States and later named in the indictment. They face child abuse charges and “are accused of conspiracy to commit forced labor and forced labor”, according to ABC News.
According to a report, Randolph Hadley, Jacelyn Greenwell, Etinia Kinnard, Dana Peach, Daniel Jenkins, James Staton, Yunus Rassoul, and Kaaba Majeed each face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 20 years for the forced labor charge.
The United Nation of Islam was originally founded in 1978 after Royall Jenkins left the Black separatist group Nation of Islam. Jenkins, a truck driver who believed he was God, founded the organization after he claimed he was abducted by angels who showed him the right way to rule the Earth. The indictment indicated that he believed he was instead “taken through the galaxy by aliens on a spaceship.”
Royall Jenkins amassed a significant following, including hundreds of people who were convinced of his tale. It was said that despite the organization’s name, it has no tie to the Islamic faith. The United Nation of Islam was previously known as the Value Creators.
Originally based in Maryland, the United Nation of Islam moved its headquarters to Kansas City, Kansas in 1990. Jenkins garnered hundreds of followers and lead to group alongside his many wives until 2012.
According to the indictment, the children were forced to work for the United Nation of Islam from October 2000 to November 2012, with some working the entire 12 years without compensation.
One of the victims, listed as Kendra Ross, was said to have spent 10 years performing unpaid labor for the religious organization. In May 2018, U.S. Judge Daniel Crabtree from Kansas deemed UNOI a cult and ordered it to pay Ross $8 million.
Around that time, a federal judge issued a warrant for Jenkin’s arrest. Royall Jenkins reportedly ignored multiple court orders, though, despite the warrant, he has not been apprehended. Royall Jenkins was also not charged in the current indictment and his whereabouts were unknown. According to The Washington Post, a man claimed that Jenkins had died, though that has not been independently verified.