Members Of Kansas City, Kansas, Sect That Engaged In Human Trafficking Lose Defamation Claims
Kendra Ross had been forced to work without pay for businesses run by The United Nation of Islam from the time she was 11 years old. A judge awarded her nearly $8 million.
A federal judge has dismissed the breach of contract and defamation claims of four members of a Kansas City, Kansas-based sect that was hit with a nearly $8 million judgment for human trafficking more than three years ago.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that the members of the group formerly known as The United Nation of Islam had failed to state plausible claims for relief and barred them from refiling their claims.
The four sued Kendra Ross, who won the nearly $8 million judgment, claiming she breached the group’s membership agreement, which essentially requires lifelong servitude to the group.
They also alleged that she defamed the group when she sued, when she granted an interview to Megyn Kelly on NBC’s Today Show and when the A&E cable network later aired an episode about The United Nation of Islam.
"We are pleased with Judge Crabtree’s decision dismissing all claims against Kendra Ross," Anand Ramana, one of Ross' attorneys, said in an email. "I am hopeful that the court’s thorough and thoughtful opinion will teach these individuals, and others like them, that Kendra has done no wrong. Perhaps they will realize that they have been misguided. The attacks on Kendra must end."
Each of the four members of the sect filed separate lawsuits and represented themselves. They acted after Ross prevailed in her lawsuit, which alleged she had been forced to work without pay for businesses run by The United Nation of Islam from the time she was 11 years old until she was about 21.
After the group and its founder, Royall Jenkins, failed to respond to Ross’ lawsuit, Crabtree awarded her a $7.9 million default judgment in May 2018 – thought to be the largest award ever handed down in a human trafficking case. Ross has been trying to collect on the judgment ever since.
Another federal judge, Julie Robinson, froze the group's assets after finding it had fraudulently transferred assets to prevent Ross from collecting the money.
Jenkins' whereabouts unknown
Crabtree issued a bench warrant for Jenkins’ arrest in November 2018 after finding he had ignored multiple court orders. Jenkins so far has eluded arrest and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Jenkins, a long-distance trucker, declared himself to be Allah more than four decades ago.
“At the end of the testing period (1978 ½), two scientists (angels) actually came physically and took me on a small craft around the universe to acquaint me with who I am and what already exists, to ensure my success in being myself, Allah, The Supreme Being,” Jenkins wrote on his website, according to a detailed investigation by The Pitch magazine in 2003.
Jenkins later renamed the group The Value Creators. It operated a variety of businesses in Kansas City, Kansas, with the word “Your” in their names: Your Diner, Your Supermarket, Your Service Station and Your Colonic Center.
A few years ago The Value Creators opened a “teaching restaurant” called The Royall Touch directly across the street from the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, where Ross sued the group and where Crabtree sits as a judge.
Jenkins was a member of the Nation of Islam, the group founded by Elijah Muhammad, but after Elijah Muhammad's death, Jenkins left the organization and founded The United Nation of Islam.
In her lawsuit, Ross alleged that Jenkins had at least 13 wives and 20 children. She said she was forced to cook, clean, babysit and work without pay or benefits for businesses owned by the group. She also said she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse, and was rarely given time off.
In rejecting the breach of contract claims by the four members of the group, Crabtree said that they never identified the contract that Kendra Ross allegedly violated. And in rejecting their defamation claims, he said they never identified any false statements Ross made, a necessary element of a defamation claim.
Crabtree’s ruling came after a federal judge in Maryland earlier this month dismissed similar breach of contract and defamation claims brought against Ross by members of her own family, including her sister and brother-in-law. Like the plaintiffs who sued her in Kansas City, Kansas, they all represented themselves.