Philippine church leader charged with child sex trafficking
Angels A Philippines-based church leader has been charged with having sex with underage women and girls who have faced threats of assault and an “eternal curse” unless they serve the “Son of God,” federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Apollo Karion Quipoloi and two of his top managers are among nine people named in an invalid indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week and revealed Thursday. The indictment includes three directors of the Quipului Church in Los Angeles who were indicted last year. The new indictment also designates a director of a church in Hawaii.
Quipuloi, 71, is the head of the Church of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which was founded in 1985. The church claims to have 6 million members in about 200 countries. It is headquartered in the United States in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles.
The church supported the 2016 candidacy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is a close friend of Quipuloi. Duterte has used the group’s radio and TV shows in the southern city of Davao to express his views on issues dating back to when he was mayor of the southern port city.
Quiboloy claims to be “God’s appointed son” and in 2019 claimed to have prevented a major earthquake from hitting the southern Philippines.
The indictment that has been dismissed contains a range of charges, including conspiracy, child sex trafficking, forced sex trafficking, fraud and coercion, marriage fraud, money laundering, cash smuggling and visa fraud.
It is believed that the city of Quipuloi is in the Philippines. Emails seeking comment from Israelito Torreon, the church’s attorney in that country, were not immediately returned.
The indictment accuses Quibuloi and others of recruiting women and girls, usually between the ages of 12 and 25, as “priests” who cook his meals, clean his homes, massage him and travel with him around the world. Some of them also had sex with a koipului on schedule. “Night duty,” including some minors such as a 15-year-old girl, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, they were forced to perform “night duty” under the threat of “physical and verbal abuse and eternal punishment.”
Quiboloy and the others were also accused of bringing church members to the United States on fraudulently obtained student visas or fictitious marriages to solicit donations to the Church Charity, which is based in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale.
Workers who managed to escape the church told the FBI that they worked year-round and were beaten and psychologically abused if they did not set daily quotas, according to court documents from the previous indictment. Some described having to live in cars at truck stops.
The money for the American non-profit Children’s Joy Foundation was supposed to go to the poor children of the Philippines. But prosecutors said most of it funded the church’s operations and the lavish lifestyle of Quibuli and other church leaders.
At least $20 million was returned to the church in the Philippines between 2014 and 2019, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the previous indictment.
This story corrects the name of the church in the summary of Jesus Christ’s kingdom and corrects the title of Commander to Quiboloy throughout the story.
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