MANILA – A federal grand jury in the United States has indicted Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Philippine-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC), over an alleged scheme that coerced girls and young women to have sex with him under threats of “eternal damnation.”
The US Department of Justice said the new indictment, released on November 18, charged Quiboloy and two other top church officials -- Teresita Dandan and Felina Salinas -- with participating in a conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, as well as the sex trafficking of children.
"These three defendants allegedly recruited females ranging from approximately 12 to 25 years of age to work as personal assistants, or 'pastorals,' for Quiboloy," it said.
The Philippine News Agency (PNA) sought Quiboloy's comment but was told the pastor would release a statement soon.
The victims allegedly prepared Quiboloy’s meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages, and were required to have sex with him in what the pastorals called the ‘night duty’," the agency said.
“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 alleged.
“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.’”
According to the US DOJ, three of the five female victims were minors when the alleged sex trafficking began.
The new indictment expands the scope of the allegation made early last year against three Los Angeles-based administrators of the church, by adding six new defendants, including Quiboloy.
The US DOJ said the nine defendants are charged with participating in a labor trafficking scheme that brought church members to the US, "via fraudulently obtained" visas, and forced the members to solicit donations for a bogus charity "that actually were used to finance church operations and the lavish lifestyles of its leaders."
Three of the new defendants were arrested on November 18 by federal authorities and are expected to make their initial appearance at the US District Court in Los Angeles and Honolulu.
The remaining three, including Quiboloy, are believed to be in the Philippines, the US DOJ said.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.
The US DOJ said every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
An ongoing investigation into KOJC, meanwhile, is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the US Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and other US agencies.
The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, meanwhile, is closely monitoring the case against Quiboloy and the other church officials.
"The Consulate General fully respects the laws of the state of California and the United States of America and will seek avenues to extend consular assistance to both the accused and the victims as appropriate," it said in a statement. (PNA)