MONTEGO BAY – The estranged wife of Omar Thompson, leader of the Assembly of Qahal Yahweh in Montego Bay, Jamaica, has corroborated allegations that the controversial religious sect has conducted child marriages as a probe by the police and welfare agencies deepens.
Thompson’s wife, whose name is being withheld because she has expressed fears about her security, said she is still trying to overcome the emotional torture of years of indoctrination by the religious group. It has since banished Thompson for rebelling against the instructions of Yahweh.
The Qahal Yahweh church’s leaders, brothers Omar and Javaughn Thompson, and teacher Vera Woollery were brought before the St James Family Court last Thursday to answer charges of neglect after a mother who lived at the compound broke ranks with the group.
In the face of defiance from boisterous adherents, police and soldiers stormed the sect’s premises three days ago to take into custody three children who were said to be victims of neglect. Six children have been taken from the compound since last Thursday.
The estranged wife is convinced that her husband was radicalised by the founder, Neville Woollery, who died three years ago. Omar Thompson succeeded him as religious leader and also wedded his widow, Vera.
The religious sect has been accused of engaging in systemic brainwashing of members, but the police are also probing allegations of human trafficking, child abuse, sexual offences, and wife swapping.
Thompson’s wife admitted that marriage ceremonies are conducted in contravention of Jamaican law.
“I don’t know about no abduction and no trafficking. Nothing like that is taking place there, at least not that I know of, but children are forced into marriage for sure,” she said. “These children are afraid. Everybody there is afraid.
Everybody has lost their will, or the fear has gripped them. I was there.” (The Gleaner)