FBI: Mega-church founder who called himself ‘son of God’ was ringleader of criminal enterprise
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal investigators have charged the flamboyant founder of a Philippines-based mega-church in connection with a massive sex trafficking operation, alleging he coerced girls and young women to have sex with him under threats of “eternal damnation.”
The leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, is believed to be in the Philippines. But he has strong ties to Hawaii, and authorities said he maintains a residence in Kapolei.
“The founder of the church and two top administrators were charged for orchestrating a sex trafficking operation that recruited and coerced girls as young as 12 years old,” said Matthew Moon, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
Moon said a total of five women were trafficked ― and that three of them were minors.
Attorney Victor Bakke represented one of those victims.
“She was sexually abused, forced into labor, she was physically abused and then when she reported it, they retaliated against her,” Bakke said.
Federal authorities also alleged the church forced young members to work long hours in the hot streets soliciting donations for a bogus charity.
“The funds were actually used to fund church operations and the very lavish lifestyles of its leaders,” Moon said.
Quiboloy, who has referred to himself as the “appointed son of God,” is the leader of a church with a worldwide reach. He has claimed to have more than 6 million members in more than 200 countries.
He previously denied the sex trafficking allegations after a 2018 Hawaii News Now investigation reported that the church ran a child sex ring.
His attorney, Michael Green, said the new indictment is based on false testimony from former church members. “We have the documents and we have the audits. We can show that they lied and we can basically show the reason they lied,” said Green.
In the superseding indictment unsealed Friday, federal authorities expanded the scope of previous charges by adding six new defendants, including Quiboloy. The 71-year-old lives in a compound in the Philippines and so remains at large, officials said, but also has homes in Hawaii, California and Nevada.
Also charged in the superseding indictment was Felina Salinas, 50, of Kapolei.
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Federal authorities said she was responsible for collecting and securing church workers in Hawaii as well as directing solicited funds to church officials in the Philippines. She was arrested Thursday.
She previously served 30 days in prison for making false statements over the ownership of more than $300,000 in cash ― cash that was allegedly smuggled out of Hawaii in 2018 in Quiboloy’s private jet.
The superseding indictment charges Quiboloy, Salinas and Teresita Tolibas Dandan ― identified as the “international administrator” for the mega-church ― with participating in a massive conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force or fraud as well as in the sex trafficking of children.
Authorities said the three recruited women and girls, who ranged in age from 12 to 25, to work as personal assistants (or “pastorals”) to Quiboloy.
The victims prepared Quiboloy’s meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages and were required to have sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called “night duty,” authorities allege.
“Defendant Quiboloy and other KOJC administrators coerced pastorals into performing ‘night duty’ ― that is, sex ― with defendant Quiboloy under the threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation by defendant Quiboloy and other KOJC administrators,” the indictment alleges.
“Defendant Quiboloy and other KOJC administrators told pastorals that performing ‘night duty’ was ‘God’s will’ and a privilege, as well as a necessary demonstration of the pastoral’s commitment to give her body to defendant Quiboloy as ‘the appointed son of God.’”
The indictment said the scheme started no later than 2002 and continued through at least 2018.
Authorities said victims who were “obedient” were rewarded with luxurious hotel rooms, trips to tourist spots and yearly cash payments.
Those who expressed hesitation were told they had “the devil in them and risked eternal damnation.”
The indictment said Quiboloy would also threaten and physically abuse victims who attempted to leave KOJC or who talked to other men. Victims who managed to escape KOJC suffered retaliation in the form of threats, harassment and allegations of criminal misconduct, the indictment said.
Federal prosecutors said “Quiboloy would give sermons, broadcasted to KOJC members around the world, in which he would allege that victims who escaped had engaged in criminal conduct and sexually promiscuous activity, and therefore faced eternal damnation.”
The superseding indictment also outlines KOJC’s alleged soliciting operations nationwide, which authorities said gave rise to additional criminal conduct ― from forced labor to labor trafficking, document servitude, marriage fraud and money laundering.
Federal authorities said they plan to extradite Quiboloy, who is a close friend of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. But Green said that’s not going to happen.
“I don’t know if the president of the Philippines will go along with it,” Green said.
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