Judge Denies Sect Leader's Request for New Trial

A federal judge has denied a request for a new trial by the leader of a quasi-religious sect convicted of child molestation and racketeering.

Malachi York, head of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, has been serving a 135-year sentence since his January conviction on charges he regularly molested children and manipulated the sect's finances from 1998 to 2000, when federal agents raided their Putnam County compound.

U.S. District Court Judge Ashley Royal held a hearing Friday on York's request, after a key government witness said she lied during the trial and that she was not molested by York.

But during the hearing, 28-year-old Habiybah Washington ultimately stood by her testimony, saying she only tried to recant because she felt sorry for York.

The judge issued his decision Monday.

York, 58, still awaits sentencing in Putnam County Superior Court, after he pleaded guilty in January 2003 to 77 counts of child molestation, aggravated child molestation and exploitation of children.