Church Leader Allegedly Threatened Women With 'Eternal Damnation' to Coerce Into Sex

Federal prosecutors charged the leader of a Philippines-based church with having sex with women and underage girls under threats of abuse and "eternal damnation."

The Associated Press reported that Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, 71, the self-proclaimed "son of God," and eight others have been named in a superseding indictment by a federal grand jury Thursday.

Quiboloy is head of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, founded in 1985. The church claims to have 6 million members in 200 countries, with the U.S. center of operations in Van Nuys, Los Angeles. Three Los Angeles-based church officials were also named in the indictment.

The indictment accuses Quiboloy and the others of recruiting women and girls, ranging from 12 to 25 years old, to work for him as "pastorals." They would cook and clean for him, as well as travel with him.

"Pastorals" who worked "night duty" for him would be coerced into having sex with him under "the threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation," the indictment said. Some of the girls who did "night duty" were as young as 15.

Workers who managed to escape told the FBI they had to work year-round and would be physically and psychologically abused if they did not meet daily quotas.

According to AP, Quiboloy is believed to be in the Philippines, ready to face legal issues.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, church leader
Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the leader of the Philippines-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, was charged with having sex with women and underage girls, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday. Above, Quiboloy appears on his talk show on May 23, 2016, in Davao City, southern Philippines. File/AP Photo

The superseding indictment contains a raft of charges, including conspiracy, sex trafficking of children, sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, marriage fraud, money laundering, cash smuggling and visa fraud.

Quiboloy is believed to be in the Philippines, where his camp said that he and the other accused church leaders were ready to face legal issues although they did not answer the charges in a statement posted on his group's news website, SMNI News Channel.

"We are confident and ready to face whatever is hurled against pastor Quiboloy and the kingdom leaders," said the statement, which was attributed to an unnamed church legal counsel and accused "dissidents" of bringing up the charges to destroy Quiboloy. "We trust the process of justice and we certainly expect the truth to prevail and the kingdom ministry will continue to prosper."

The church backed the 2016 candidacy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of Quiboloy. Duterte used the group's radio and TV program in southern Davao city to express his views on issues way back when he was mayor of the southern port city.

Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Quiboloy was not facing any complaint in his country related to the U.S. charges. He said without elaborating that a separate complaint for rape was filed against Quiboloy in Davao city last year but it has been dismissed but the decision was on appeal before the Department of Justice in Manila. The dismissed complaint included charges of child abuse, trafficking in persons through forced labor and trafficking in persons through sexual abuse, Guevarra told reporters in Manila.

Quiboloy and the others also are accused of bringing church members to the U.S. with fraudulently obtained student visas or sham marriages to solicit donations for the church's charity, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale.

The money for the nonprofit Children's Joy Foundation USA was supposed to benefit poor children in the Philippines. But prosecutors said most of it financed church operations and the lavish lifestyle of Quiboloy and other church leaders.

At least $20 million was sent back to the church in the Philippines between 2014 and 2019, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the previous indictment.

Kingdom of Jesus Christ, church
Apollo Carreon Quiboloy and other leaders of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church face charges including coercing women and underage girls into having sex with Quiboloy. Above, FBI agents cover a fence on the grounds of the church in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on January 29, 2020. Richard Vogel,File/AP Photo