By a Biometrica staffer
U.S. prosecutors recently announced that they have filed sex trafficking charges against Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the Philippine national who founded a church called Kingdom of Jesus Christ, as well as two U.S.-based administrators of that church. The superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in early November.
The 74-page indictment says that Quiboloy, 71, and other church officials coerced young girls and women (some only 12 years old) to have sex by threatening them physically and by saying that if they did not, they would face “eternal damnation.” The victims were allegedly forced into some sort of servitude that mandated they prepare Quiboloy’s meals and clean for him, in addition to giving him massages and having sex with him. This scheme allegedly ran between 2002 and 2018.
According to reporting from CNN, three church administrators based in Los Angeles were last year alleged to have run a trafficking ring that brought church members to the U.S. using “fraudulently obtained visas.” The U.S. jurisdiction stems from the fact that the church has an American headquarters in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, and that the entire sex trafficking operation was “supported by funds solicited [from] U.S. donors.” These donations were also used to fund church leaders’ “lavish” lifestyles.
This indictment adds Quiboloy and five others to that 2020 indictment. Of these six, however, only three were arrested by U.S. authorities. The others, including Quiboloy, are thought to be in the Philippines. As of now, the Justice Secretary of the Philippines says Quiboloy is not facing any action in his home country in relation to these latest charges filed in the U.S.
There is, however, an appeal underway in the Philippines on a separate rape charge filed against Quiboloy last year, though charges were dismissed. That case involved accusations of “child abuse, trafficking in persons through forced labor and trafficking in persons through sexual abuse.”
Media in the Philippines are reporting that there is a chance Quiboloy could be extradited to the U.S. to face these charges, under the RP-US Extradition Treaty, regardless of the status of that case pending before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office. The process, however, is likely to be lengthy as it involves extensive litigation. If the U.S. does put in a request to have him extradited, authorities would have to decide first whether the treaty is applicable in this case. If it is, then a petition of extradition needs to be filed before a local court, and that process has to be completed before the prisoner can be formally handed over.
The Kingdom of Jesus Christ church was founded in 1985 and is alleged to have a presence in 200 countries, comprising around 6 million people. Quiboloy is considered to be close to Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, stoking fears that this move might stress the relationship between that country and the U.S.