Prosecutors in the United States announced sex-trafficking charges on Thursday, alleging that girls and young women were coerced into having sex with the founder of a church in the Philippines who is a friend and adviser to Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
A 74-page indictment accuses Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC), and other church officials, including two church administrators based in the United States, of running a sex-trafficking operation that threatened victims as young as 12 with “eternal damnation” and physical abuse.
According to federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, the new indictment expands on allegations made against three church administrators in the city last year. It accuses nine defendants of taking part in a scheme in which church members were brought to the United States on false visas and forced to solicit donations for a phony children’s charity.
Prosecutors claimed the donations were used to fund the church leaders’ “opulent lifestyles.”
The most recent indictment adds Quiboloy and five other new defendants to a previous indictment filed in 2020. Prosecutors said three of the new defendants were arrested in the United States on Thursday, but three others, including Quiboloy, were believed to be in the Philippines.
Lawyers for the new defendants could not be reached immediately, and the Philippines embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the indictment, Quiboloy and two other defendants hired females aged 12 to 25 as personal assistants, or “pastorals,” who were required to prepare Quiboloy’s meals, clean his residences, give him massages, and have sex with him during “night duty.”
Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed “Owner of the Universe” and “Appointed Son of God,” has been a close friend and spiritual adviser to Duterte for many years. Millions of Filipinos follow the influential evangelist.
In September, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, a presidential candidate who has frequently clashed with Duterte, sued Quiboloy for libel after accusing the multiple world champion of embezzling funds intended for a sports complex.
Church leaders wield considerable power in Philippine elections.
The constitution forbids Duterte from running for a second term as president. He has previously reacted negatively to attacks on allies, and last year vowed to terminate a key military pact with the US after a Philippine senator who was an ally was denied a visa to the US. (Mark Hosenball and David Brunnstrom contributed reporting, and Dan Grebler edited the piece.)
Apollo Quiboloy, founder of Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, indicted for sex trafficking|ABS-CBN News