By Tony Rizzo
A woman who said she was forced to work without pay for a decade — beginning when she was 11 — is suing the spiritual leader of a group she describes as a cult based in Kansas City, Kan. [Kansas]
Kendra Ross, who is now 26, alleges that from the age of 11 until 2012, when she “gathered her courage and strength to escape,” she was the victim of human trafficking at the hands of Royall Jenkins and his organization, The Value Creators.
The group, formerly known as the United Nation of Islam, forced Ross to work in restaurants and as a maid, cook and childcare provider in several cities, including Kansas City, Kan., Atlanta, Dayton, Ohio, and New York, the suit alleges.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., estimates that Ross performed more than 40,000 hours of uncompensated labor for the group.
“The defendants’ actions forced Ms. Ross into involuntary servitude, and denied her fundamental rights of freedom, education, basic medical attention and fair pay,” the suit alleges.
She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and “still suffers from the psychological effects of a childhood of trafficking,” according to the lawsuit.
A phone number listed on The Value Creators Facebook page was answered Monday by a man who said the organization had not yet seen the suit and he had no comment.
People at two addresses affiliated with the group in Kansas City, Kan., said Monday that they also had no comment.
Jenkins, who now lives in Arizona, was a member of the Nation of Islam until 1978 when he formed the separate United Nation of Islam (UNOI).
According to the suit, Jenkins formed the UNOI after “angels and/or scientists” abducted him and escorted him through the galaxy on a spaceship and instructed him on how to govern earth.
The suit contends that he subsequently told his followers to refer to him as “Allah on Earth,” “Allah in Person,” or “The Supreme Being.”
The group’s Facebook profile photo displays the slogan “Wealthful Growth” and shows what appears to be a spaceship shining light on a pile of gold bars.
Jenkins established a small community of followers and business in an economically depressed area of Kansas City, Kan., and later established similar communities in a number of other cities.
Many in the Kansas City, Kan., community praised the group for improving the area and bringing needed economic development. But most of the businesses started by the group along Quindaro Boulevard appear to have since been closed.
The suit alleges that the UNOI used a hierarchical chain of command with Jenkins at the pinnacle.
It employed strict system of discipline, operated its own schools and regulated when and with who members could marry. Ross was married to a group member when she was 20 after a “psychic doctor” determined that they were compatible, according to the suit.
The UNOI also taught a philosophy of the superiority of black males over white males and the superiority of men over women.
“UNOI required female members to attend regular women’s meetings, where women learned how to be ‘good housewives’ and how to ‘submit’ to their husbands,” the lawsuit alleges.
Among punishments meted out were fines that had to be paid by female members if they exceeded an “ideal” weight, the suit alleges.
Several years ago, the group changed its name to The Value Creators.
“The Value Creators is effectively UNOI under a different name, and it includes all of the same (or similar) businesses and members,” according to the suit.
Since 2015, Ross has lived in a safe house in an undisclosed state to “avoid detection by her former traffickers,” according to the suit.
Besides the money she says is owed her for the years of work she was not paid for, her suit seeks compensation for “her pain, and suffering of the trafficking and losing her childhood to the defendants, and to punish the defendants for their abhorrent and malicious trafficking practices.”