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Unsealed FBI files accuse Martin Luther King of 40 affairs and 'laughing at rape'

The i logo The i 26/05/2019 Nick Duffy
Martin Luther King, Jr. wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Unsealed FBI documents allege that Martin Luther King was present while a friend raped a woman.

The claims were unearthed by the civil rights leader's biographer David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer prize for his 1987 book Bearing the Cross.

The unsealed documents confirm the extent of government surveillance against Dr King, with recording devices concealed in hotel rooms he stayed in.

According to The Sunday Times, FBI surveillance documents also make a number of claims about Dr King's sexual behaviour, with one incident allegedly caught on tape at a hotel in Washington DC.

Martin Luther King, Jr. et al. posing for a photo © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Looked on and laughed

FBI reports allege that Baptist pastor Logan Kearse invited several women back to his room with Dr King, where the pair were recorded discussing sex acts with the women.

An FBI document claims: “When one of the women protested that she did not approve, [Mr Kearse] immediately and forcibly raped her.”

It adds that Dr King "looked on, laughed and offered advice" during the ordeal.

Dr King, a Baptist minister who had a daughter with wife Coretta Scott King, was reportedly monitored engaging in sex acts with around 40 women, with the files claiming he was surveilled participating "in acts of degeneracy... [at] sex orgy."

Gallery: Unforgettable speeches from the past century (Picture Services)

The FBI anonymously threatened to publicly expose Martin Luther King's unfaithfulness to wife Coretta (Photo: AP/Gene Herrick, File)

On one occasion, the documents claim, Dr King coerced a woman into a sex act by claiming it "helps your soul."

Documents also suggest that Dr King may have secretly fathered a daughter outside marriage.

FBI threatened to expose 'adulterous acts'

FBI officials attempted to leverage the intelligence about Dr King's personal life, sending him an anonymous letter threatening to expose "your adulterous acts, your sexual orgies."

The letter suggested Dr King should commit suicide “before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

Martin Luther King Jr. Leading Prayer March. (Photo by Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images) Martin Luther King Jr. Leading Prayer March. (Photo by Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images)

Hours of surveillance tapes of Dr King still exist, according to Mr Garrow, but remain under seal in the US National Archives until 2027.

The biographer is set to publish his findings in June's Standpoint magazine.

He told The Sunday Times that the rape allegations "pose so fundamental a challenge to his historical stature as to require the most complete and extensive historical review possible."

Mr Garrow noted that if a rape took place, the FBI agents surveilling Dr King also made no attempt to stop it.

He said: "A lot of women will see this as one more historical maltreatment of black women, not only by black ministers. The FBI didn't give a hoot either."

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