More charges coming in Yahweh case

MONTEGO BAY, St James – New charges will be filed in the case involving 13 members of the St James religious group Qahal Yahweh, who were arrested and charged with violations of the Child Care and Protection Act.

The case came up in the St James Parish Court before presiding Judge Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley on Friday, but the hearing was rescheduled due to the prosecution’s incomplete case file.

The court was informed that several statements and additional charges have yet to be added to the case file.

The individuals charged are: Rebecca Gallimore, Christopher Anderson, Nekeisha Harding, Derrick Clarke, Roanalee Maitland, Alicia Meadley, Fabian Nelson, Franchain Paris, Jodian Spence, Jose Foskin, Oral Spence, Rayon Letman, and Ingrid Williams.

They were taken into custody during a joint special operation by the security forces at their Paradise Avenue religious compound in Montego Bay, on June 30.

The charges came three weeks after children of many of the accused were placed in State care.

The police confirmed that investigators removed several exhibits, photographs, and other material of evidentiary value from the compound.

The Qahal Yahweh compound, which is two doors away from the late Kevin Smith’s Pathway International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, made headlines in 2019 when authorities raided the property, leading to the arrest of the church’s leader and the removal of three children from the compound.

The raid followed months of complaints from residents concerned about the fate of children within the compound.

The 13 defendants, who are all represented by King’s Counsel Peter Champagnie, had their bail extended until December 15.

Neil Spence, who previously pleaded guilty to assault and whose matter was being heard separately from the other 13 defendants, has already received a non-custodial sentence. He was represented by attorney-at-law Adrian Dayes.