A day after the US Department of Justice indicted Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder and Philippine President Duterte's spiritual adviser Apollo Quiboloy, and eight others, on child sex trafficking claims, the embattled church's General Counsel worldwide spoke out and denied the allegations.
"This is horrible, horrible things that they've said and people only remember the words that they read. It is breaking his heart," Attorney Michael Green said. "There are a lot of people that are so upset, who spent 20 or 30 years, decades, with this pastor and church, and are personally familiar with tens of thousands lives - children, their parents, their grandparents - who didn't have a roof over their head, clothing, and food. I have statements from them, declarations from all over the world, thanking him for what they did."
The Hawaii-based lawyer claims that a faction of former church members, some who have been accused of embezzlement, have been making these claims in an effort to discredit the megachurch pastor. Green also questions the timing of the superseding indictment which expands on a January 2020 indictment alleging immigration fraud. While it was not formally charged as a crime at the time, the FBI spoke about members being forced to solicit money for a bogus charity.
Green noted, "the original things that came out of the FBI years ago, was that they were enslaving young people that came from the Philippines, forced labor, to work for the church 15 to 18 hours a day. They were being held prisoner. That came from Bhandari and some of these other, what I call, dissidents. So the FBI came out with empty buses with drivers [to] go pick up these people that are being housed against their will, people that are in forced labor. Every place they went, they came in with empty buses. There was nobody there. Nobody was being forced to do anything."
"Common sense, if you have people that are part of some conspiracy to molest females, what are you waiting for? A year and a half to charge them?"
Green said defendants who were arrested on Thursday have all since been released as of Friday, and are all scheduled to appear for their arraignments in Hawaii and Los Angeles sometime early next month. It is unsure yet if or when Quiboloy and the other Philippine-based defendants will be extradited to the US to face charges. Green says the court proceeding might take place in Los Angeles, and he's expecting the case to go on until 2023.
Meanwhile, with several of the defendants and alleged victims being Los Angeles based, the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles said it is monitoring the case. While the case is under the jurisdiction of the US legal system, Consul General Edgar Badajos asserted they are on standby to assist any of the accused or alleged victims that are Filipino citizens.
"It is our responsibility to provide assistance to any of the accused and the victims who are still Filipinos, to extend the necessary and appropriate consular assistance," Badajos said, noting no one has contacted the consulate yet.
Aside from the Van Nuys compound, Kingdom of Jesus Christ did have at least one other Southern California location but it has since closed down during the pandemic. Some church members have told ABS-CBN News that active church members are continuing to hold their services, while sources who know the alleged victims say they have been under the care of local anti-trafficking groups.