A federal judge has frozen the assets of a Kansas City, Kansas-based sect that was hit with a $7.9 million judgment last year for human trafficking.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found that members of the group formerly known as the United Nation of Islam had fraudulently transferred assets to non-profit groups they created in order to prevent Kendra Ross, the woman who obtained the judgment, from collecting the money.
The United Nation of Islam was formed four decades ago by a Kansas City, Kansas, truck driver named Royall Jenkins who once proclaimed himself to be Allah. Once a member of the Nation of Islam, Jenkins formed the splinter group after he fell out with the Nation of Islam.
Last May, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ordered Jenkins and The Value Creators Inc., a successor group to the United Nation of Islam, to pay $7.9 million in damages to Ross for making her work for them without pay over the course of a decade. The judgment is thought to be the largest ever handed down in a human trafficking case.
“Here, with reckless disregard for plaintiff’s health and safety, defendants intentionally and maliciously trafficked and forced her to work in their residences for excessive hours – all with no pay or benefits,” Crabtree wrote in his 57-page ruling.
Ross, who said she was forced to work for the sect starting when she was 11 years old, 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. She also said she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse, and was rarely given time off.
She now lives at an undisclosed location.
In November, Crabtree issued a bench warrant for Jenkins' arrest after finding that he had ignored court orders. Jenkins remains at large.
The Value Creators once operated a variety of businesses in the Quindaro district of Kansas City, Kansas, with names like Your Diner, Your Supermarket, Your Service Station and Your Colonic Center.
More recently, it opened a “teaching restaurant” called The Royall Touch directly across the street from the federal courthouse where it was sued by Ross. The Kansas City Business Journal reported in December that the restaurant received zoning, planning and building inspection approvals from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas and passed a health inspection.
Members of The Value Creators did not return a phone message left for them at the restaurant.
On the day Crabtree handed down his judgment, a member of The Value Creators incorporated a nonprofit called The Promise Keepers, Inc. and a few months later another group called The Promise Keepers 417 Inc. The assets of The Value Creators were subsequently transferred to the newly formed groups.
Judge Robinson’s temporary restraining order prohibits new groups from disposing of their assets. It also bars them from opening or closing accounts and from opening “any new entities or trusts” without prior court approval.
Elizabeth Hutson, one of Ross’ attorneys, said she was pleased with the ruling.
“Our goal is to prevent the transfer of assets in further frustration of Ms. Ross' ability to collect on the judgment entered last May,” she said.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.